The SNOMED CT distribution files contain the full content of SNOMED CT International Release. This means these files include:

  • concepts with concept identifiers,
  • descriptions that associate human-readable terms with those concepts; and
  • relationships between concepts (to provide logical associations including the subtype hierarchy of SNOMED CT and other defining relationships.
When these files are imported into an appropriate database, terms that are understood by clinicians can be selected by users and the appropriate concept and term can then be stored in an electronic health record.

Also in the release are derivatives known as Reference sets, used to provide additional supporting information (for example to customize language preferences).

Use of SNOMED CT for system development

Once you have registered as a SNOMED International Affiliate, you will have access the International Release of SNOMED CT. You can use the release data and documentation ( to support development. The file formats of the distribution files that you have downloaded are documented in the Technical Implementation Guide online (or in PDF). 

Learning more about SNOMED CT

Please see

Browsing SNOMED CT content

If you are not yet ready to develop your own tools to work with SNOMED CT, a range of browsers are available to allow you to explore the content of SNOMED CT. These are listed at  The SNOMED International browser is an open source project available at