classification code

Classification has matured enormously since the Movement first began. Initially Classification was based on medical evaluation, placing little emphasis on assessing the impact on sport. In the 1980s and 1990s many athletes and classifiers recognised this shortcoming and drove the development of functional classification systems, focused more fully on sport performance. 

Over this period there were no unifying principles to guide the development of classification systems and the rate of development varied greatly across Para-sports. 

The International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Governing Board recognized that to secure the Paralympic Movement's future, Para sports required a more harmonized approach to Classification. The IPC Athlete Classification Code is created to fulfil this mission by supporting and coordinating the development and implementation of accurate, reliable, consistent, and credible sport-focused classification systems. 

We anticipate that the Code will improve continuously, as will the ideas that would form rules, regulations, and policies that evolve with it. 

Following the experience gained in the application of the 2007 Code, the IPC Governing Board initiated a consultation process in 2013 to review and revamp the Code. The review process was a fully collaborative process that involved all Paralympic stakeholders, all of whom sought an enhanced Code that would benefit athletes around the world. 

Over three consultation rounds and the publication of several preliminary drafts, the revised Code was approved by the IPC Governing Board in June 2015 and brought forward as a motion to the General Assembly in November 2015, at which time the motion was passed. 

2015 Athlete Classification Code provides a framework, which aims to permit the Paralympic Movement - athletes, classifiers, administrators and scientists - to manage the challenges and seize the opportunities to allow the realisation of the vision of the Paralympic Movement for the future.

IPC Classification Code

The 2015 IPC Athlete Classification Code is a creation of the IPC. The IPC also owns the © to the 2015 IPC Athlete Classification Code, including all previous editions. 

Classification Code Cover Page




The Code is complemented by International Standards that provide technical and operational standards for specific aspects of Classification to be carried out by all signatories in a manner which athletes and other Paralympic stakeholders understand and have confidence in, namely:

  • International Standard for Eligible Impairments (September 2016): Defines what an Eligible Impairment is in Para sports, thereby ensuring that Para sports are reserved for those that have an Eligible Impairment.

  • International Standard for Athlete Evaluation (September 2016): Details the procedures for the assessment of athletes and the allocation of Sport Class and Sport Class Status.

  • International Standard for Protests and Appeals (February 2018): Defines procedures for the management of classification related protests and appeals

  • International Standard for Classifier Personnel and Training (September 2016): Outlines the procedures for classifier recruitment, training, certification and re-certification.

  • International Standard for Classification Data Protection (September 2016): Ensures that classification organisations use classification data consistently in accordance with their legal obligations.

All International Standards can be downloaded from the IPC Handbook page.

Compliance with these International Standards is mandatory by all signatories of the Code. Learn more about Code Compliance.


For Athletes

All athletes competing in Para sport at International Competitions under the jurisdiction of the International Sport Federations are responsible to be knowledgeable of and comply with all applicable policies and rules adopted pursuant to the Code (Code, article 12.4.1). 

Athlete reference guide



Annual Classification Meetings with the Membership  

Once per year the IPC and the IPC Classification Committee host an International Sport Federation Head of Classification Meeting to discuss the common issues across sports as well as a meeting with the National Paralympic Committee’s classification staff. The meeting brings together different experts in classification, including IF and NPC staff, classifiers and heads of classification, administrators, researchers, etc. 

In recent years the concept of expert meetings has proven a successful means of sharing knowledge, expertise and resources, which contributes to the further development of Paralympic classification systems.