About Government of Canada Catalogue Numbers

Government of Canada Catalogue Numbers are assigned to all Government of Canada (GC) publications by the Depository Services Program (DSP) upon application from the author department. If the publication is not a serial publication, then it will be assigned an ISBN as well.

All government organizations subject to the Treasury Board Communication Policy must apply GC Catalogue numbers to their publications.

GC catalogue numbers are used to uniquely identify publications by Canadian government organizations for both sales and free distribution. They also provide a useful link between publications published in multiple formats (print, CD-ROM, Internet).

A typical GC Catalogue Number is an alpha-numeric text string taking the form:


  • initial alphabetic characters identify the issuing department or agency (in this example, Environment Canada);
  • the numbers immediately following identify the branch of the department or agency (in this example, 40 represents Environmental Protection);
  • the next group of numbers signifies the publication type (annual, monograph, series or periodical) then the series and issue numbers, or the DSP accession number (in this example, this is the 568th Environmental Protection monograph recorded by the DSP);
  • the final number indicates the date of publication and the final letter or letters (if present) may indicate the language of the publication (in this example, E indicates English), or the format of the publication if it is not a standard print format publication, or both language and format;
  • valid GC Catalogue Numbers are assigned only by the DSP. Author departments are not authorized to construct and assign their own GC Catalogue Numbers.

A new GC catalogue number is required for each new individual publication, including:

  • each new annual edition,
  • each issue in a series,
  • each new edition or revision,
  • each separate language edition,
  • each additional publication format (print, CD-ROM, PDF, etc.).

A GC catalogue number is not required for reprinted publications. For reprints, author departments should use the catalogue number that appeared in the original version.

If the publication is a book or book-like publication (monograph), then the most common place for a Catalogue Number to appear is on the verso of the title page, underneath the copyright line and above the ISBN. For example:

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Environment, 2001

Cat. No. En40-568/2001E
ISBN 0-662-50000-X

However if this is not possible or appropriate, the most important factor is that the Catalogue Number and ISBN are printed accurately and legibly in the publication. The actual location can vary, for example they can appear on the face of a CD-ROM, or on the back of a kit or folder.

Issues of a periodical are given catalogue numbers, but this number may appear on individual issues at the discretion of the author department. If the Catalogue Number is to appear, the best approach is to include it in the publication "masthead" information.