International Student Identity Card

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International Student Identity Card
Motto"To make student life better"
TypeNonprofit organization
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersCopenhagen, Denmark
Region served
over 130 countries worldwide
Official language
English (internal communication)
ISIC Association Board Chair
Matthew J East
Main organ
ISIC Association Board

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is an internationally accepted proof of bona fide student status. This ID verifies students and grants them access to a diverse selection of benefits and discounts around the world. With the ISIC card a student may redeem discounts for travel, accommodation, visiting cultural institutions and other various benefits. The ISIC Association also issues the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC) for non-students, and the International Teacher Identity Card (ITIC) for teachers and professors. The membership fee varies country by country.

As the card is recognized internationally, ISIC cardholders can use the card to identify themselves as a student around the world. The ISIC card is managed and administered by the ISIC Association. The objective of the ISIC Association is to help improve intercultural understanding and increase education opportunities. The ISIC card is issued in over 130 countries.[citation needed]

ISIC Association[edit]

The ISIC Association is a non-profit membership organisation legally registered in Denmark.[1] The members are the organisations that hold the exclusive rights to distribute, promote and develop the ISIC card within their territory or country. These organisations are referred to as 'ISIC Exclusive Representatives' (ER). The main organ of ISIC Association is the ISIC Board of Directors, the Exclusive Representatives (Association Members) elects up to 10 Board Members, including a Chair person. The ISIC Association and ISIC Board are governed by the rules set out by the ISIC Association Constitution and Convention.

The ISIC card is administered and managed at a global level by the ISIC Service Office d.o.o. The ISIC Service Office d.o.o is a company seated in Belgrade, Serbia. The ISIC Service Office d.o.o is wholly owned by the ISIC Association.[1]

Year Board Chair
1984-1990 Rod Hurd
1991-1991 Francis Stivalla
1992-1993 Roberto Corbella
1994-1994 David Jones
1995-1997 Alex Thomas
1998-2002 Joop van Putten
2003-2008 Toni Brandi
2008-2010 Peter Liney
2010- Matthew J East

History of the ISIC card[edit]

ISIC (1981)

Formation of the ISIC card[edit]

Following the 2nd World War, the Western world was focused on mutual cooperation and understanding in order to prevent a resurgence of fascism. This atmosphere gave impetus for student organisations to form, with the aim of working together for peace and cooperation throughout the world. One such student organisation, the International Student Conference (ISC) held their 3rd ISC at the Studenterforeningen's Hus in Copenhagen in 1953. It was attended by the National Unions of Students and Coordinating Secretariat of National Unions of Students (COSEC), Denmark, amongst others. The attending student organisations made the decision to establish a single international identity document valid for the perceived need of travel concessions. This is the first documented mention of the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). Representatives of the ISIC were also representatives of the International Student Travel Conference (ISTC). At the 4th ISTC conference, and following the decision made at the 3rd ISC, the Norwegian and Dutch Union of Students, in co-operation with COSEC, presented a document based on a Survey of the Council of Europe. The document concluded that the formation of an international student card would be of benefit to students while travelling. They accepted responsibility to form a Travel Aids Commission and "take the necessary steps to ensure that an International Student Identity Card be made available as soon as possible in as large a part of the world as possible". International Student Identity Card was founded with the aim to provide students worldwide with access to student facilities, wherever they travelled. It was agreed that the real value of the card would prove that the holder was a "bona fide" student. The first ISIC cards were produced by the Travel Aids Commission managed by the ISTC. Fifty-six thousand cards were issued amongst 31 countries in the first year.

ISIC – from travel to the lifestyle[edit]

In the 21st century, the ISIC card took on a different dimension and a new purpose. The need for a student card orientated just to travel concessions was becoming less relevant, because of the social changes such as worldwide economic decline, the introduction of low budget airlines, online flight booking and direct airline sales. Due to this decline, it was identified that the ISIC card and its main purpose must be redefined. Up until 2001, the ISIC card existed primary as a travel card and a student identity card but it was agreed that the benefit and discount aspect must be utilised and the card refocused as an everyday student lifestyle card.

Facts about ISIC[edit]

ISIC International Student Identity Card
Year launched 1953
Ownership The ISIC card is owned by the ISIC Association, a non-profit organisation.
Annual card sales Annually over 4.5 million ISIC cards are issued worldwide.
Eligibility Eligibility for an ISIC is restricted to bona fide students engaged in higher/tertiary education and students in full-time secondary education.
Minimum age requirement 12 years old. There is no upper age limit.
Card validity The card validity is usually 16 months and follows the academic year, with 4 months extra.

ISIC card distribution[edit]

ISIC Exclusive Representatives, who have the exclusive rights to issue ISIC cards in their respective countries, make up a global distribution network for ISIC cards. The ISIC card is available in over 130 countries. In each country, the ISIC Exclusive Representative is exclusively responsible for ISIC card distribution, promotion and development, including the development and managing a portfolio of local and national benefits and discounts, and services available to the ISIC holders.[2]

ISIC card today[edit]

Eligibility for an ISIC card is restricted to bona fide students engaged in higher or tertiary education and students in full-time secondary education. Students must be a minimum of 12 years old to be eligible. There is no upper age limit for an ISIC card.[3] An ISIC card is valid for 16 months. The validity period of an ISIC card corresponds to the academic year in the country of purchase. For example, in countries where the academic year starts in September (e.g. countries in the Northern Hemisphere), the ISIC card is generally valid from 1 September to 31 December the following year. In countries where the academic year begins in February (e.g. countries in the Southern Hemisphere), the ISIC card is valid from 1 February through to 30 May, 16 months later.[3] There is an advised national retail selling price for the ISIC card in each country where the card is issued. The card price in each country is determined by the value of the ISIC in the local market and the country economic development level.

A fresh and new look for ISIC - Brand refresh

The idea to conduct an ISIC Brand refresh originated in 2017, and was subsequently launched in May 2019.[4] The aim of the Brand refresh was to modernise the ISIC Brand's visual identity (especially for the digital environment) and increase co-branding flexibility, and provide extra space on the ISIC card for co-brand partners.

ISIC co-branding[edit]

ISIC Mastercard

Co- branding represents a unique all-in-one card. There are thre types of co-branding: academic, financial and commercial. From this point of view, the ISIC card may be combined with a university identity card (or campus), bank payment cards and many other commercial partners.

Endorsement & Alliances of the ISIC[edit]

The ISIC card is endorsed and supported as an official proof of student status by various organisations and institutions locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Organisations that endorse the ISIC card include national governments, ministries of education and tourism, universities, other academic institutions and student organisations internationally.

UNESCO Endorsement

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been involved in the ISIC development almost since the beginning. UNESCO joined the International Student Travel Conference in 1995 and supported the ISIC card. In 1968 UNESCO issued an official endorsement in full support of the ISIC card. UNESCO recognised the ISIC card as the only internationally accepted proof of full-time student status and a unique document encouraging cultural exchange and international understanding. A renewed Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 1993. The UNESCO logo has appeared on the ISIC card since 1993. UNESCO recognises the ISIC card as a unique document encouraging cultural exchange and international understanding.[5]

UNWTO Affiliate Endorsement

Supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the ISIC Association was accepted as an UNWTO Affiliate Member in August 2013. The Affiliate Membership adds to the official profile of the ISIC card and distinction in the travel industry.

British Council and Global Study Awards This exciting initiative was launched by the British Council IELTS, Studyportals and the ISIC Association in 2015. The goal of these annual awards is to encourage and support more student undertake study abroad. This award is available in all counties worldwide. In total there have been 17 winners in 5 rounds[6]

Other Global Endorsement[edit]

  • AIESEC[7]
  • Community of Andean Nations[8]
  • International Association of Universities[9]
  • International Pharmaceutical Federation[10]
  • European Students' Union[11][12][13][14][15]
  • European Law Students' Association (ELSA)[16]
  • European Youth Card Association (EYCA)[17]
  • World Youth Student Education Travel Confederation (WYSETC)[18]
  • Hosteling International Partnership (HIP)[19]
  • World Savings Banks Institute (WSBI)[20]

Strategic global partners[edit]

ISIC Event[edit]

The ISIC Event[35] is an annual event for ISIC issuers, global partners, endorsement partners, student union bodies, and other organisations involved in the international student community. With tradition from 2011, representing a great opportunity for connecting and sharing knowledge and experiences. Coordinated and managed by the ISIC Service Office d.o.o, the annual three-day gathering is an event. ISIC Events are hosted by a different country each year.

Year Host
2011 Tallinn, Estonia
2012 Miami, USA
2013 Copenhagen, Denmark
2014 Seoul, South Korea
2015 Belgrade, Serbia
2016 Toronto, Canada
2017 Berlin, Germany
2018 Taipei, Taiwan
2019 Thessaloniki, Greece
2020 Online
2021 Dubai, UAE

ISIC Award[edit]

The ISIC Award was introduced by the ISIC Association in 2011. The ISIC Award recognises and rewards organisations working on a global scale to reduce social, economic and cultural barriers and increase access to education. The ISIC Award was awarded annually up until 2016. Through the ISIC card the ISIC Association aims to ensure individuals who aspire to participate in higher education have the help and resources to enable them to do so. The intention of the ISIC Award was to support existing education accessibility initiatives. The ISIC Award winner is nominated and selected by the ISIC card distributors worldwide. Nominees for the ISIC Award were to be a non-government organisation, institution, association, or similar organisation that are able to clearly demonstrate a commitment to making education more accessible. The ISIC Award winners received a financial contribution to support the continuation of their work to increase access to education. Previous award winners include AIESEC International (2011), the International Association of Universities (IAU) (2012), the University of the People (2013), the Institute of International Education (2014), the edX (2015), and the International Student Exchange Programmes (ISEP) (2016).[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b ISIC Association, "2018 Annual Report of the ISIC Association",
  2. ^ ISIC Association (2018), "2018 Annual Report of the ISIC Association",
  3. ^ a b ISIC Association (1954) "Constitution of the ISIC Association"
  4. ^ (ISIC Association)
  5. ^ UNESCO (2004), "UNESCO", p8 Archived 2012-04-18 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Global Study Awards
  8. ^ Community of Andean Nations (2004), "Endorsement with ISIC and the Community of Andean Nations"
  9. ^ IAU, "IAU"
  10. ^ International Pharmaceutical Federation (2009), "International Pharmaceutical Federation"
  11. ^ European Students' Union (2011) "European Students' Union"
  12. ^ European Students' Union (2011) "Endorsement with ISIC and the European Students' Union"[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ European Students' Union (2011) "Endorsement with ISIC and the European Students' Union"[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ International Union of Students (2011) "Endorsement with ISIC and International Union of Students" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ European Council of Culture (2011) "Endorsement with ISIC and the European Students' Union"
  16. ^ European Law Students' Association (2011) "Endorsement with ISIC and the European Students' Union"
  17. ^ European Youth Card Association (EYCA) (2011)
  18. ^ World Youth Student Education Travel Confederation (WYSETC) (2011)
  19. ^
  20. ^ WSBI
  21. ^ Mastercard
  22. ^ British Council
  23. ^ Education First
  24. ^ ISIC
  25. ^ FlixBus
  26. ^ Hard Rock Café https://Hard Rock Café/
  27. ^ The Economist
  28. ^ Homestay
  29. ^ Hostelsclub
  30. ^ Hostelworld
  31. ^
  32. ^ Lonely Planet
  33. ^ SANDEMANs
  34. ^ Withlocals
  35. ^

External links[edit]