Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) encompasses dynamic changes in cellular organization from epithelial to mesenchymal phenotypes, which leads to functional changes in cell migration and invasion. EMT occurs in a diverse range of physiological and pathological conditions and is driven by a conserved set of inducing signals, transcriptional regulators and downstream effectors. With over 5,700 publications indexed by Web of Science in 2019 alone, research on EMT is expanding rapidly. This growing interest warrants the need for a consensus among researchers when referring to and undertaking research on EMT. This Consensus Statement, mediated by ‘the EMT International Association’ (TEMTIA), is the outcome of a 2-year-long discussion among EMT researchers and aims to both clarify the nomenclature and provide definitions and guidelines for EMT research in future publications. We trust that these guidelines will help to reduce misunderstanding and misinterpretation of research data generated in various experimental models and to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration to identify and address key open questions in this research field. While recognizing the importance of maintaining diversity in experimental approaches and conceptual frameworks, we emphasize that lasting contributions of EMT research to increasing our understanding of developmental processes and combatting cancer and other diseases depend on the adoption of a unified terminology to describe EMT.