About ISIC

The International Student Identity Card

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the only internationally recognized* student ID card. Since its launch in 1968, the ISIC card has helped over 40 million students to get the most out of their travel experience.

With access to a global network of affordable and specialized student services, the ISIC card is your passport to more than 41,000 discounts and benefits in 120 countries worldwide. The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) Association is a member of the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation (WYSE Travel Confederation), a not-for-profit organization which brings together world-leading specialists in student and youth travel services.

The ISIC Association’s main product is the ISIC card, the only internationally recognized* student ID card. It is endorsed by organizations such as UNESCO, the European Council on Culture and the Andean Community of Nations. The card is recognized by universities, academic institutions, student organizations, national governments and ministries of education around the world. The ISIC Association has maintained a close relationship with UNESCO and together they promote student travel, cultural exchange and international understanding.


The Ealry Years

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) was launched over 50 years ago as a student ID card, giving full-time students around the world access to special discounted air fares. This supported the ISIC Association’s ground-breaking mission statement: “Increasing international understanding through the promotion of travel and exchange opportunities among students, young people and the academic community”.

The ISIC card: born out of the Peace Movement

Following World War II and the Cold War, the Western world was focused on mutual cooperation and ultimately preventing a revival of fascism. During this period many student organizations formed with the aim of working together for peace and cooperation throughout the world.

One such student organization, the International Student Conference (ISC) held their 3rd ISC at the Studenterforeningen’s Hus in Copenhagen in 1953. It was attended by National Unions of Students and Coordinating Secretariat of National Unions of Students (COSEC), Denmark, amongst others. The attending student organizations made the decision to establish a single international identity document for students.


OWhilst ISIC continued to be internationally recognized as the student ID, the growth of internet usage meant that students had new and easy access to low-cost air fares. Inevitably, this has lead to some decrease in travel-related ISIC card sales in the last few years.

On the flipside, ISIC has seen an increase in sales of the card for non-travel purposes – including offers relating to shopping and entertainment – during the same period.

This has ensured continued growth of ISIC sales worldwide.

In many countries, today’s ISIC card has gone through a transition. Next to it’s long standing and solid reputation as the only internationally recognized student ID, the ISIC is now also considered an all-round student lifestyle card. Its members still enjoy discounts and services on flights and public transport. On top of that, they also benefit from discounts related to museums, shopping and entertainment – at home and abroad.


Many of the representatives of the ISC were also representatives of the International Student Travel Conference (ISTC). At the 4th International Student Travel Conference (ISTC), and following the decision made at the 3rd International Student Conference (ISC), the Norwegian and Netherlands Union of Students, in co-operation with COSEC concluded that the formation of an international student identity card would be of great benefit to students while travelling.

The Norwegian and Netherlands Union of Students, in co-operation with COSEC of Denmark 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”.

From there the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) was created with the aim to provide students with access to student facilities and services wherever they travelled to. It was agreed that the real value of the card would prove that the cardholder was a “bona fide” student. The first ISIC cards were produced by the Travel Aids Commission managed by the ISTC. In the first year of distribution 56,000 cards were issued in 31 countries.

Integral to the decision to create the ISIC card was the view that student travel and exchange opportunities among students and youth leads to greater international understanding and tolerance. This belief remains core to the purpose of the ISIC card today.


The United National Education, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) became involved in the International Student Travel Conference from 1955. UNESCO has an interest in the ISIC card due to UNESCO’s similar aims promote intercultural understanding and provide access to education. Since 1968 UNESCO has officially endorsed the ISIC card. UNESCO recognizes the ISIC card as the only internationally accepted proof of full-time student status and a unique document encouraging cultural exchange and international understanding.. As well as UNESCO, endorsements from the European Council on Culture and the Community of Andean Nations illustrate ISIC’s longstanding success and respect as an organization. We are proud to be recognized by national governments, ministries of education, universities, academic institutions and student organizations around the world. The UNESCO logo has appeared on the card since 1993.


The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is distributed in over 125 countries and accepted in even more, creating a truly global community.


In the new millennium the need for a student card orientated to travel concessions was becoming less relevant. The reasons for this included worldwide economic decline, the introduction of budget airlines, online flight booking and direct airline sales. Up until 2001, the ISIC card existed as a travel card and a student identity card but it was agreed that the discount aspect must be utilized and the card repositioned as an everyday student lifestyle card. Having an everyday lifestyle card gives students greater value and benefits in all aspects of their student life.


Since 1953 over 100 million ISIC cards have been issued to support students around the world. ISIC are currently working towards the ISIC Cloud, the virtualization of the ISIC card. Soon all ISIC cardholders will have access to their ISIC profile anywhere they have an internet connection.

ISIC facts & figures

ISIC International Student Identity Card
Year launched 1953
Yearly card sales Over 4.5 million, worldwide
Number of ISIC issuing countries 130
Eligibility Full-time students at school, college or university
Minimum age requirement 12 years old
Upper age limit None
Card validity Maximum 16 months, based on the academic year:

  • In countries with the academic year starting in September (e.g. Europe), the ISIC card is valid 1st September to 31st December the following year.
  • In countries with the academic year starting in December (eg Brazil, Australia), the ISIC card is valid 1st December to 31st March, 16 months later
Number of discounts and benefits Over 120,000 around the world
partnerships with banks worldwide Over 40 worldwide
partnerships with academic institutions Over 250 worldwide
Cost of an ISIC The cost depends on the issuing country