What is PDF/A?

What is PDF/A?

PDF/A is an ISO standard version of the PDF file format designed for the long-term storage of files.

In September 2005, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved a new PDF/A standard for archiving electronic files. According to the ISO19005-1 standard, PDF/A is a variant of PDF. It “provides a tool that enables electronic records to be reproduced over time in a manner that retains their appearance, regardless of the tools and systems used to create, store or produce the record.”

This method of retention makes the PDF archive self-sustaining. PDF/A stores this self-persistence by embedding information (content, colours, fonts, images, etc.) that display the document within the document itself. In other words, PDF/A files do not require any additional external information to be displayed properly. However, for the format to store its own continuity, it would have to exclude certain features found in standard PDF files such as film, audio, and transparencies.


PDF/A started as a new joint effort between the Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies (NPES) and the Association for Information and Image Management AIIM and Adobe to develop an international standard defining the use of the Portable Document Format (PDF ) for archiving documents. The goal is to meet the growing demand for electronically archived records to ensure that their contents are preserved over extended periods of time and that they can be retrieved and presented in the future with consistent and predictable results. This need exists worldwide A wide range of government, industry, and academic fields, including the legal system, libraries, newspapers, and regulated industries.

How to convert files to PDF/A?

To convert a file to PDF/A, regardless of whether the original file was in PDF format, you must use one of the PDF converters available in the market.

We recommend that you can use VP Online PDF converter, it supports converting documents to PDF/A in a few steps. Converting PDF to PDF/A online, easily, and free on VP Online Editor.