ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations
Official Relations Branch

ILO country and area designations and rules for their use
(English -- French -- Spanish)
and corresponding DOSCOM code numbers



English index


This document replaces ILO Circular 12/19 (Rev.9) of 9 March 1992 and its addenda. It will be updated for changes in country and area designations as they occur.

Alphabetical list of ILO member countries

Index français

Indice español


  1. This circular gives the standard office nomenclature relating to country and area designations which must be used in all ILO publications and documents. The nomenclature, which is in line with current United Nations practice, is presented in two sections:

    A. Alphabetical list of ILO member countries.

    B. Alphabetical list of other countries, territories and areas.

  1. Section A contains a trilingual list of ILO member countries, in English alphabetical order. The list gives for each country:
    1. first, the short title which corresponds to the customary unofficial designation of the country normally used for all purposes except in strictly formal contexts or documents. Where no short title is given (indicated by a dash), the full title (see subparagraph (b) below) is to be used. The short title should be used for all ordinary Office purposes and generally in all publications and documents issued by the ILO, whatever their form of reproduction, particularly with regard to titles, headings, tables, lists and enumerations;
    2. the full or official title, which is reserved for more formal uses, e.g. publication in the Official Bulletin or formal communications from governments concerning such matters as membership of the Organization; letters and communications addressed to Heads of State and some ambassadors or heads of permanent missions;(1) communications constituting formal agreements with governments; and certain formal communications to governments (new admissions, withdrawals). In the case of a few countries where no short title is given or where its use is restricted to certain specific contexts (e.g. United Republic of Tanzania) the full title may in some cases be suitably abbreviated (e.g. UR of Tanzania) to meet particular needs, for instance when the nature of a document requires a compact presentation, when space is limited, as in tables, lists or enumerations, or when a country is referred to for the second time or subsequently in the same text. Only where space is so limited that the abbreviated full title cannot be used (as may happen in the case of small or crowded maps, graphs and diagrams) is an even shorter form (e.g. Tanzania) permissible, provided of course that no ambiguity results;
    3. the adjective of nationality used to designate the country. Where there is no known adjective of nationality, an adjectival phrase is given instead (e.g. "of Lesotho");
    4. the noun used to designate nationals of the country is given separately if it is not the same as the adjective of nationality (e.g. Philippine, a Filipino). Where no such noun exists, an adjectival phrase should be used (e.g. "a Lesotho national", "a national of Lesotho").
  1. Similar information in regard to a number of ILO non-member countries is provided in section B, which in addition gives the standard Office designations for other countries, territories and areas which may be mentioned in ILO publications and documents. These designations, which follow United Nations usage in so far as this is known, are also presented in a trilingual list, in English alphabetical order.
  2. In sections A and B the definite article is placed before the country, territory and area designations wherever good usage requires its concomitant use (e.g. the Sudan). The definite article should, however, be omitted in lists, tables and enumerations (e.g. Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland). In the case of El Salvador the article "E1" is an integral part of the country's name and cannot be omitted.

Special cases

  1. As from 1 July 1997, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is an inseparable part of the People's Republic of China. When it has to be mentioned in a text, Hong Kong should be referred to either by its full title "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China" or by its short title "Hong Kong, China" (eg. in lists of countries).


  1. As from 20 December 1999, the Macau Special Administrative Region is an inseparable part of the People's Republic of China. When it has to be mentioned in a text, Macau should be referred to either by using its full title "Macau Special Administrative Region, China", or by its short title "Macau,China" (eg. in lists of countries).


  1. Taiwan should not be treated as a country, since its status is that of a province of the People's Republic of China. If in exceptional cases it has to be mentioned in an ILO publication or document it should be referred to as Taiwan, China.


  1. In the ILO, the term Palestine is used exclusively for the Palestine Liberation Movement and is not applied to any geographical entity. In particular, it should not be used in alphabetic list of States.
    Since May 2010, the adjective
    Palestinian can also be used for the territory, and the proper use is Occupied Palestinian Territory.  This term covers the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
    When there is a need to refer to the occupied Syrian Golan in addition to those territories, the term occupied Arab territories should be used.
    Palestinian Authority is used to denote the administrtion responsible for the territory under its jurisdiction, which should be referred to as territory under the Palestinian Authority.


  1. Kosovo should not be treated as a country. This territory is under an interim international civilian administration (UNMIK) upon decision of the Security Council on 10 June 1999 (Resolution 1244).


  1. There are certain contexts where the nomenclature of this circular does not necessarily apply:
    1. in documents such as records of proceedings and minutes of meetings, which clearly do not represent an expression of opinion on the part of the Office, the country and area designations employed by speakers (e.g. "England" for United Kingdom) should, subject to the usual editorial requirements, be retained in the same form (or in the corresponding translation). The same applies to statements and passages which are reproduced from, or are closely based on, other sources (e.g. papers submitted to the Governing Body or the Conference, information supplied by the authorities of an area concerning that area);
    2. where countries, groups of countries or portions of countries are referred to as geographical areas, and not as political entities, they may be designated by terms other than those given in this circular, provided that the reference is clearly a geographical one. The need for such references is likely to arise particularly in connection with economic, statistical and other technical information.
  1. ILO publications and documents, whatever their form of reproduction, which are intended for distribution particularly outside the Office (e.g. studies, manuals, papers submitted to the Governing Body, reports for the Conference, Sectoral and other ILO meetings, reports for United Nations bodies) and in which references are made to countries, areas or territories, must contain the following standard disclaimer:

      The designations employed in ILO publications, which are in conformity with United Nations practice, and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the International Labour Office concerning the legal status of any country, area or territory or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers.


Index of countries, territories and areas
(yellow  signifies an ILO member country)

Index by Doscom No.



Index of countries, territories and areas (by Doscom No.)
(yellow  signifies an ILO member country)

Alpabetical index 

1. See Instructions for Official Correspondence with Governments (issued by the Official Relations Branch).

Last update 23 September 2019