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Prefixes SFS, EN, ISO etc. identify the organization which has approved the standard's text. A standard approved in Finland carries the prefix SFS, one approved by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) the prefix EN, and one approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) the prefix ISO. Prefix SFS-EN indicates that the same standard is valid both in Finland and in Europe, whereas SFS-ISO indicates that the standard is valid in Finland and in ISO, but has not yet been approved by CEN.  SFS-EN ISO indicates that the standard has been approved by all three organizations.

Each country has its own prefix. This indicates that standards SFS-EN ISO 1234 and DIN-EN ISO 1234 are based on the same identical ISO standard that has been approved in Europe and thus in each CEN member country. This correspondence between numbers only applies to the implementation of European and international standards. In different countries, the same number may be associated with different national standards. It is therefore advisable to take the standard's title into account when purchasing them.