According to Guinness World Records, "White Christmas" (1942) by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single worldwide, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies. The song recognized as "the best-selling single of all time" was released before the pop/rock singles-chart era and "was listed as the world's best-selling single in the first-ever Guinness Book of Records (published in 1955) and—remarkably—still retains the title more than 50 years later." Guinness World Records states that double A-side charity single "Candle in the Wind 1997"/"Something About the Way You Look Tonight" (1997) by Elton John, a tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is "the biggest-selling single since UK and US singles charts began in the 1950s, having accumulated worldwide sales of 33 million copies," making it the second-best-selling single of all time.
The list is split between physical (mainly CD and vinyl) singles and digitally downloaded tracks which first became available to purchase in the early 2000s.
The sales of singles that are italicized are the compilation of sales in available markets instead of a worldwide sales figure. These sales figures are therefore neither complete nor definitive.
Best-selling single by year worldwide
The charts of the best-selling singles by year in the world are compiled by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry annually since 2007. These charts are published in their two annual reports, the Digital Music Report and the Recording Industry in Numbers.
Units sold include single-track downloads, audio and video mastertones, ringback tones, full track downloads to mobile and, starting in 2013, track-equivalent streams. All versions of the same song are combined in these charts.