Introduction to the Code Change Process


Knowledge of human languages at any point in time will never be complete or perfect, but is always expanding. Given the comprehensive nature of ISO 639-3, changes to the code set are inevitable, especially in respect to lesser-known or newly identified languages. An updated version of the code set will be released once each year, and all changes since the inception of the code will be reported on this page.

Initial changes in the code set included minor changes in the forms of some language names (corrections and additions), the addition of a few code elements, and the retirement of one code element. Those changes were made to keep ISO 639-3 aligned with 639-2. When ISO 639-3 was published as an International Standard, the Registration Authority began to manage the Part 3 code set as a separate entity, though always maintaining compatibility with Part 2. Since then a set of changes has been posted each year as requests have been received and approved.

The following pages give the guidelines that the Registration Authority has been instructed to observe in managing the change process. Care is taken in making changes to ensure that existing uses of the code set are not seriously compromised. Instructions for submitting a change request are given on the Submitting Changes page.