ISO 3166-1 alpha-3

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ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 codes are three-letter country codes defined in ISO 3166-1, part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to represent countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest. They allow a better visual association between the codes and the country names than the two-letter alpha-2 codes (the third set of codes is numeric and hence offers no visual association).[1] They were first included as part of the ISO 3166 standard in its first edition in 1974.

Uses and applications[edit]

The ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 codes are used most prominently in ISO/IEC 7501-1 for machine-readable passports, as standardized by the International Civil Aviation Organization, with a number of additional codes for special passports; some of these codes are currently reserved and not used at the present stage in ISO 3166-1.[2]

The United Nations uses a combination of ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 and alpha-3 codes, along with codes that pre-date the creation of ISO 3166, for international vehicle registration codes, which are codes used to identify the issuing country of a vehicle registration plate; some of these codes are currently indeterminately reserved in ISO 3166-1.[3]

Current codes[edit]

Officially assigned code elements[edit]

The following is a complete list of the current officially assigned ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 codes,[4] using a title case version of the English short names officially defined by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency (ISO 3166/MA):

User-assigned code elements[edit]

User-assigned code elements are codes at the disposal of users who need to add further names of countries, territories, or other geographical entities to their in-house application of ISO 3166-1, and the ISO 3166/MA will never use these codes in the updating process of the standard. The following alpha-3 codes can be user-assigned: AAA to AAZ, QMA to QZZ, XAA to XZZ, and ZZA to ZZZ.[5]


The following codes are used in ISO/IEC 7501-1 for special machine-readable passports:[2]

NATO STANAG 1059 INT is built upon ISO alpha-3 codes, but also defines alpha-2 codes incompatible with ISO 3166-1. It introduces several private use codes for fictional countries and organizational entities:

  • XXB "Brownland"
  • XXG "Greyland"
  • XXI "Indigoland"
  • XXL "Limeland"
  • XXP "Purpleland"
  • XXR "Redland"
  • XXW "Whiteland"
  • XXY "Yellowland"
  • XXN NATO "Blue" Command

NATO also continues to use reserved codes for continents:

  • ABB Asia
  • EEE Europe
  • FFF Africa
  • NNN North America
  • SRR South America
  • UUU Oceania
  • NTT NATO countries

Reserved code elements[edit]

Reserved code elements are codes which have become obsolete, or are required in order to enable a particular user application of the standard but do not qualify for inclusion in ISO 3166-1. To avoid transitional application problems and to aid users who require specific additional code elements for the functioning of their coding systems, the ISO 3166/MA, when justified, reserves these codes which it undertakes not to use for other than specified purposes during a limited or indeterminate period of time. The reserved alpha-3 codes can be divided into the following four categories: exceptional reservations, transitional reservations, indeterminate reservations, and codes currently agreed not to use.

Exceptional reservations[edit]

Exceptionally reserved code elements are codes reserved at the request of national ISO member bodies, governments and international organizations, which are required in order to support a particular application, as specified by the requesting body and limited to such use; any further use of such code elements is subject to approval by the ISO 3166/MA. The following alpha-3 codes are currently exceptionally reserved:

The following alpha-3 codes were previously exceptionally reserved, but are now officially assigned:

  • GGY Guernsey – Reserved on request of UPU
  • IMN Isle of Man – Reserved on request of UPU
  • JEY Jersey – Reserved on request of UPU

Transitional reservations[edit]

Transitional reserved code elements are codes reserved after their deletion from ISO 3166-1. These codes may be used only during a transitional period of at least five years while new code elements that may have replaced them are taken into use. These codes may be reassigned by the ISO 3166/MA after the expiration of the transitional period. The following alpha-3 codes are currently transitionally reserved:

Indeterminate reservations[edit]

Indeterminately reserved code elements are codes used to designate road vehicles under the 1949 and 1968 United Nations Conventions on Road Traffic but differing from those contained in ISO 3166-1. These code elements are expected eventually to be either eliminated or replaced by code elements within ISO 3166-1. In the meantime, the ISO 3166/MA has reserved such code elements for an indeterminate period. Any use beyond the application of the two Conventions is discouraged and will not be approved by the ISO 3166/MA. Moreover, these codes may be reassigned by the ISO 3166/MA at any time. The following alpha-3 codes are currently indeterminately reserved:

The following alpha-3 code was previously indeterminately reserved, but has been reassigned to another country as its official code:

Codes currently agreed not to use[edit]

In addition, the ISO 3166/MA will not use the following alpha-3 codes at the present stage, as they are used in ISO/IEC 7501-1 for special machine-readable passports:

Deleted codes[edit]

Besides the codes currently transitionally reserved and two other codes currently exceptionally reserved (FXX for France, Metropolitan and SUN for USSR), the following alpha-3 codes have also been deleted from ISO 3166-1:[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ISO 3166 – FAQs – General questions". International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Archived from the original on 2011-05-14.
  2. ^ a b "Codes for Nationality, Place of Birth, Location of Issuing State/Authority and Other Purposes", Doc 9303, Machine Readable Travel Documents, Part 3: Specifications Common to all MRTDs (PDF) (Eighth ed.), International Civil Aviation Organization, 2021, pp. 21–23
  3. ^ "Distinguishing signs used on vehicles in international traffic" (PDF). United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
  4. ^ "Country names and code elements". ISO.
  5. ^ "Glossary for ISO 3166 - Codes for countries and their subdivisions". ISO.
  6. ^ "European Union laissez-passer (video at 0:47)". Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  7. ^ ISO International Organization for Standardization, ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency (1 February 2002). "RE: Change of alpha-3 Code Element" (PDF). ISO 3166-1 NEWSLETTER No. V-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 26 June 2017. Description of change: Change of the alpha-3 Code element for Romania from ROM to ROU following a request of the Government of Romania.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Clive Feather (2003-07-25). "Country codes in ISO 3166 (Table 2: codes withdrawn from use)".
  9. ^ Gwillim Law (2014-07-17). "Changes in ISO 3166-1".

Sources and external links[edit]