SDMX, which stands for Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange, is an ISO standard designed to describe statistical data and metadata, normalise their exchange, and improve their efficient sharing across statistical and similar organisations.

SDMX is sponsored by eight international organisations including the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), European Central Bank (ECB), Eurostat (Statistical Office of the European Union), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD), and World Bank.

The SDMX standard provides an integrated approach to facilitating statistical data and metadata exchange, enabling interoperable implementations within and between systems concerned with the exchange, reporting and dissemination of statistical data and their related meta-information.

It consists of:

  • technical standards (including the Information Model)
  • statistical guidelines
  • an IT architecture and tools

But SDMX is not just a format for data exchange. Taken together, the technical standards, the statistical guidelines and the IT architecture and tools can support improved business processes for any statistical organisation as well as the harmonisation and standardisation of statistical metadata.

The first version of the SDMX technical standard (1.0) was finalised in 2004 and approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as a Technical Specification (ISO/TS 17369: 2005 SDMX) and international standard (ISO 17369: 2013). The successive versions were approved in November 2005 (version 2.0), May 2011 (version 2.1) and September 2019 (version 3.0).

The Information Model which forms the core of SDMX has been developed to support statistics as collected and used by governmental and international statistical organisations, and this model is also applicable to other organisational contexts involving statistical data and related metadata.

The statistical guidelines aim at providing general statistical governance as well as common (“cross-domain”) concepts and code lists, a common classification of statistical domains and a common terminology. The first set of guidelines was published in January 2009.

Many IT tools have been developed to support the use and implementation of SDMX. Most of these tools are of an open source nature, so that they can be used as components for building IT systems in statistical organisations. For more information, please visit the Tools section.

The work processes of SDMX are fully transparent: public consultations are conducted when major revisions are envisaged.

The first global SDMX data exchanges were implemented in 2013 by the seven sponsor organisations and covered National Accounts, Balance of Payments and Foreign Direct Investment. Many additional data exchanges are presently under development, both between international organisations and between international organisations and their constituencies.