The World Data System (WDS) was created by the ICSU General Assembly in 2008 to replace the World Data Centres and Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical data analysis Services established by the International Council for Science (now International Science Council) to manage data generated by the International Geophysical Year (1957–1958). It became clear after the International Polar Year (2007–2008) that these bodies were not able to respond fully to modern data needs.

With WDS striving to build worldwide ‘communities of excellence’ for scientific data services, the WDS Scientific Committee in 2011 developed certification criteria using internationally recognized standards, as well as a transparent and objective procedure, to ensure the trustworthiness of WDS Regular Members—holders and providers of data, data products, or services from wide-ranging scientific fields—in terms of authenticity, integrity, confidentiality and availability of data and services.

Since July 2017, organizations applying for the first time or renewing their WDS Regular membership must first be certified by CoreTrustSeal before then showing adherence to the WDS membership requirements outlined in the WDS Bylaws. Those data services sending an Expression of Interest for WDS Regular Member or that started their reaccreditation during the transition period in 2017–2018, have been able to complete their applications within the WDS Membership Management Tool according to the CoreTrustSeal procedure and have been awarded a CoreTrustSeal certification.

Obtaining the CoreTrustSeal is a major step towards WDS Regular membership, and all CoreTrustSeal Trustworthy Data Repositories are thus invited to apply for free once completing their certification.