NAICS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is NAICS and how is it used?
  2. What is an establishment?
  3. What are "statistical purposes?"
  4. What is a "primary business activity?"
  5. What is the NAICS structure and how many digits are in a NAICS code?
  6. I have seen NAICS codes with more than six digits. What are these, and how can I get a list of them?
  7. Where can I get a complete list of 2017 NAICS codes?
  8. What is the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system? Is it still being used?
  9. How can I determine the correct NAICS code for my business?
  10. Who assigns NAICS codes to businesses and how?
  11. How can I have my company's NAICS code changed?
  12. How can I get a new NAICS code created for my type of business?
  13. Can I get a NAICS code or other statistical data for a specific company?
  14. How does NAICS 2017 differ from NAICS 2012?
  15. Do NAICS codes change over time?
  16. Can a business have more than one NAICS code?
  17. How do the NAICS codes affect federal procurement and regulatory activities, such as those carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Defense, and the General Services Administration?
  18. What is the relationship between NAICS and the Small Business Administration's (SBA) size standards?
  19. How can I find an occupational NAICS code?
  20. How can I find data (payroll, number of establishments, sales, receipts, etc.) for a specific NAICS industry?
  21. Are U.S. international trade data available on a NAICS basis?
  22. How does NAICS handle market-based rather than production-based statistical classifications?
  23. What is Title 13?
  24. How can I download the NAICS manual?
  25. How do NAICS codes relate to other classification systems?
  26. My company is overseas. What is my NAICS code?
  27. If my question isn't here or I still need more information, what should I do?

  • 1. What is NAICS and how is it used?

    The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS, pronounced Nakes) was developed under the direction and guidance of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the standard for use by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of statistical data describing the U.S. economy. Use of the standard provides uniformity and comparability in the presentation of these statistical data. NAICS is based on a production-oriented concept, meaning that it groups establishments into industries according to similarity in the processes used to produce goods or services. NAICS replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system in 1997.

    NAICS was initially developed and subsequently revised by Mexico's INEGI, Statistics Canada, and the U.S. Economic Classification Policy Committee (the latter acting on behalf of OMB). The goal of this collaboration was to produce common industry definitions for Canada, Mexico, and the United States. These common definitions facilitate economic analyses of the economies of the three North American countries. The statistical agencies in the three countries produce information on inputs and outputs, industrial performance, productivity, unit labor costs, and employment. NAICS, which is based on a production-oriented concept, ensures maximum usefulness of industrial statistics for these and similar purposes.

    NAICS in the United States was designed for statistical purposes. However, NAICS is frequently used for various administrative, regulatory, contracting, taxation, and other non-statistical purposes. For example, some state governments offer tax incentives to businesses classified in specified NAICS industries. Some contracting authorities require businesses to register their NAICS codes, which are used to determine eligibility to bid on certain contracts. The requirements for these non-statistical purposes played no role in the initial development of NAICS or its later revisions.

    Various agencies and organizations also use NAICS as a basis for their procurement programs, requiring that a NAICS code be provided for each good or service to be procured. NAICS is an industry classification system, not a product classification system, and therefore neither intended nor well suited for this purpose. The North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) was developed under the direction and guidance of OMB and also in collaboration with Canada and Mexico. This system incorporates all of the outputs/products of the industries defined in NAICS, with "product" referring to goods produced and services provided. For statistical purposes, a business establishment is assigned one NAICS code, based on its primary business activity, whereas multiple NAPCS codes can be linked to any one establishment to indicate its various products.

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  • 2. What is an establishment?

    An establishment is generally a single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed (e.g., factory, mill, store, hotel, movie theater, mine, farm, airline terminal, sales office, warehouse, or central administrative office). An enterprise, on the other hand, may consist of one or more locations that are more than 50 percent owned by the same entity performing the same or different types of economic activities. Each establishment of that enterprise is assigned a NAICS code, based on its own primary business activity.

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  • 3. What are "statistical purposes?"

    The U.S. Census Bureau and other Federal statistical agencies collect, tabulate, present, and analyze data about the economy of the United States. For an example, please visit the Business and Industry Web site.

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  • 4. What is a "primary business activity?"

    Ideally, the primary business activity of an establishment is determined by relative share of production costs and/or capital investment. In practice, other variables, such as revenue, value of shipments, or employment, are used as proxies. The U.S. Census Bureau generally uses revenue or value of shipments to determine an establishment's primary business activity.

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  • 5. What is the NAICS structure and how many digits are in a NAICS code?

    NAICS is a 2- through 6-digit hierarchical classification system, offering five levels of detail. Each digit in the code is part of a series of progressively narrower categories, and the more digits in the code signify greater classification detail. The first two digits designate the economic sector, the third digit designates the subsector, the fourth digit designates the industry group, the fifth digit designates the NAICS industry, and the sixth digit designates the national industry. The 5-digit NAICS code is the level at which there is comparability in code and definitions for most of the NAICS sectors across the three countries participating in NAICS (the United States, Canada, and Mexico). The 6-digit level allows for the United States, Canada, and Mexico each to have country-specific detail. A complete and valid NAICS code contains six digits.

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  • 6. I have seen NAICS codes with more than six digits. What are these, and how can I get a list of them?

    Within the official NAICS classification system, U.S. industries are defined at the 6-digit level. Any codes greater than six digits that are labeled as "NAICS codes" are not truly NAICS codes, but perhaps should be labeled "NAICS-based codes". Any such codes would probably be proprietary to the agency or organization that created them for their own programmatic purposes, and should not be assumed to be consistent or comparable across agencies.

    For use in its economic census and survey programs, the U.S. Census Bureau has developed several NAICS-based coding systems. One is the discontinued Numerical List of Manufactured and Mineral Products, which was a 10-digit product classification system containing products produced by the manufacturing and mining industries. The first six digits of the 10-digit product code is the 6-digit NAICS code of the manufacturing or mining industry that is designated as the primary producer of the product. View the 2002 Numerical List, 2007 Numerical List, or the 2012 Numerical List. Note that the Numerical List will be replaced by products based on the North American Product Classification System in the 2017 Economic Census and subsequent survey programs.

    Another example of NAICS-based codes used in the Economic Census, which appear on the reporting instruments and in disseminated data, are the 7- and 8-digit "kind of business codes". These codes are used for certain industries to provide finer details of the principle business activities below the 6-digit NAICS industry level.

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  • 7. Where can I get a complete list of 2017 NAICS codes?

    To view a complete list of 2017 NAICS Sector codes and titles, visit the "Downloads/Reference Files/Tools" section of this Web site. Under "2017 NAICS," you can download an Excel file of either the complete NAICS code hierarchy, ranging from broad 2-digit Sector codes to specific 6-digit U.S. Industry codes, or a list of just the 6-digit U.S. Industry codes.

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  • 8. What is the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system? Is it still being used?

    NAICS replaced the SIC in 1997. Federal statistical agencies use NAICS for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of economic statistics. There will be no further revisions of the SIC, which was last updated in 1987. It is possible that other organizations and state and local agencies are continuing to use the SIC for their own purposes, but these non-statistical uses are outside the scope of the Federal economic statistical programs.

    To find the SIC codes and their descriptions, visit the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Web site, which maintains a SIC Manual.

    To learn more about the differences between the original 1997 NAICS and the SIC, visit the "History" link on this Web site.

    A detailed conversion (concordance) between the SIC and 2002 NAICS is available in Excel format for download at the "Concordances" link on this Web site. There are no plans to develop other concordances between the SIC and NAICS.

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  • 9. How can I determine the correct NAICS code for my business?

    1. You can use the search feature at www.census.gov/naics. In the "2017 NAICS Search" box on the left side of that page, enter a keyword that describes your kind of business. A list of primary business activities containing that keyword and the corresponding NAICS codes will appear. Choose the one that most closely corresponds to your primary business activity, or refine your search to obtain other choices.
    2. Rather than searching through a list of primary business activities, you may also view the complete 2017 NAICS structure with codes and titles by clicking on "2017 NAICS" on the left-hand column from the NAICS main Web page. Then click on the 2-digit Sector code to see all the NAICS codes under that Sector. Then choose the 6-digit code of your interest to see the corresponding definition, as well as cross-references and index items, when available.

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  • 10. Who assigns NAICS codes to businesses and how?

    There is no central government agency with the role of assigning, monitoring, or approving NAICS codes for establishments. Individual establishments are assigned NAICS codes by various agencies for various purposes using a variety of methods. The U.S. Census Bureau has no formal role as an arbitrator of NAICS classification.

    The U.S. Census Bureau assigns one NAICS code to each establishment based on its primary activity (generally the activity that generates the most revenue for the establishment) to collect, tabulate, analyze, and disseminate statistical data describing the economy of the United States. Generally, the U.S. Census Bureau's NAICS classification codes are derived from information that the business establishment provided on surveys, census forms, or administrative records.

    Various other government agencies, trade associations, and regulation boards adopted the NAICS classification system to assign codes to their own lists of establishments for their own programmatic needs. If you question the NAICS code contained on a form received from an agency other than the U.S. Census Bureau, you should contact that agency directly.

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  • 11. How can I have my company's NAICS code changed?

    There is no "official" way to have a company's NAICS code changed and there is no central register that represents the "official" NAICS classification for business establishments. Various Federal government agencies maintain their own directories of business establishments, and assign classification codes based on their own needs. Generally, the classification codes are derived from information that the business establishment has provided on surveys, forms, or administrative records. For this reason, we recommend that you contact the agency that has assigned the code that you believe should be changed. For example, if you question the NAICS code contained on a form received from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you should contact the Department of Labor. For access to a list of Federal government agencies' Web sites, visit www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml.

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  • 12. How can I get a new NAICS code created for my type of business?

    NAICS is scheduled to be reviewed every 5 years for potential revisions, so that the classification system can keep pace with the changing economy. This is the only time that new NAICS codes can be considered. See the NAICS Update Process Fact Sheet [PDF 37KB] for more information.

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  • 13. Can I get a NAICS code or other statistical data for a specific company?

    Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9 (a) prohibits the U.S. Census Bureau from releasing information on a specific business including NAICS codes. Visit our Data Protection and Privacy Policy Web site to obtain more information on Title 13. There are a number of private research firms that provide NAICS codes and data for specific companies, often for a fee. The U.S. Census Bureau cannot verify the accuracy of the codes or data provided by these companies.

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  • 14. How does NAICS 2017 differ from NAICS 2012?

    There were 1,065 industries in 2012 NAICS United States, and in 2017 NAICS United States there are 1,057 industries. For 2017, revisions were made to address changes in the economy. These included the addition of new and emerging industries, content revisions for selected areas, title changes, and clarification of a few industry definitions.

    Noticeable changes were made to six of the 20 NAICS sectors during the 2017 revision of NAICS. These sectors are listed below:

    1. Sector 21, Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction - Industries in Subsector 211, Oil and Gas Extraction, were restructured, resulting in two new 6-digit industries: 211120, Crude Petroleum Extraction; and 211130, Natural Gas Extraction. 2012 NAICS codes 212231, Lead Ore and Zinc Ore Mining, and 212234, Copper Ore and Nickel Ore Mining, were collapsed into a new 6-digit industry: 212230, Copper, Nickel, Lead, and Zinc Mining.
    2. Sector 31-33, Manufacturing - 2012 NAICS industries 333911, Pump and Pumping Equipment Manufacturing, and 333913, Measuring and Dispensing Pump Manufacturing, were collapsed into a new 6-digit industry: 333914, Measuring, Dispensing, and Other Pumping Equipment Manufacturing. 2012 NAICS industries 335221, Household Cooking Appliance Manufacturing, 335222, Household Refrigerator and Home Freezer Manufacturing, 335224, Household Laundry Equipment Manufacturing, and 335228, Other Major Household Appliance Manufacturing, were collapsed into a new 6-digit industry: 335220, Major Household Appliance Manufacturing.
    3. Sector 44-45, Retail Trade - Industries in Subsector 452, General Merchandise Stores, were restructured, resulting in two new industry groups: 4522, Department Stores; and 4523, General Merchandise Stores, including Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters. 2012 NAICS industries 454111, Electronic Shopping, 454112, Electronic Auctions, and 454113, Mail-Order Houses, were collapsed into a new 6-digit industry: 454110, Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses.
    4. Sector 51, Information - 2012 NAICS industries 512210, Record Production, and 512220, Integrated Record Production/Distribution, were collapsed into a new 6-digit industry: 512250, Record Production and Distribution. Industry Group 5171, Wired Telecommunications Carriers, and Industry Group 5172, Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite), were restructured, resulting in a new industry group: 5173, Wired and Wireless Telecommunications Carriers.
    5. Sector 53, Real Estate and Rental and Leasing - Industries in Industry Group 5322, Consumer Goods Rental, were restructured, resulting in a new 5-digit industry: 53228, Other Consumer Goods Rental.
    6. Sector 54, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services - A new 6-digit industry was created: 541713, Research and Development in Nanotechnology, resulting in two other new 6-digit industries: 541714, Research and Development in Biotechnology (except Nanobiotechnology); and 541715, Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Nanotechnology and Biotechnology).

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  • 15. Do NAICS codes change over time?

    NAICS is scheduled to be reviewed every five years for potential revisions, so that the classification system can keep pace with the changing economy. See the NAICS Update Process Fact Sheet [PDF 37KB] for more information.

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  • 16. Can a business have more than one NAICS code?

    In the process of collecting, tabulating, analyzing, and disseminating statistical data, the U.S. Census Bureau assigns and maintains only one NAICS code for each establishment based on its primary activity (generally the activity that generates the most revenue for the establishment). Since other agencies and organizations have adopted NAICS for use in programs that are not statistical (e.g., regulatory activities and procurement), it is possible that they allow for more than one NAICS code per establishment. For instance, the System for Award Management (SAM), where businesses register to become federal contractors, will accept multiple classification codes per establishment. You will need to contact these other agencies to find out what their policies are, and what NAICS codes are appropriate for your business relative to their programs. For access to a list of Federal government agencies, visit www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml.

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  • 17. How do the NAICS codes affect federal procurement and regulatory activities, such as those carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Defense, and the General Services Administration?

    NAICS was developed for use in the collection, tabulation, analysis, and dissemination of statistical data that show the economic status of the United States. The NAICS categories and definitions were not developed to meet the needs of procurement or regulatory applications. However, other Federal agencies, trade associations, and regulation boards have adopted NAICS to use for procurement and regulatory purposes even though it is not well suited to meet their specific needs. The U.S. Census Bureau has no formal role as an arbitrator of classification decisions outside of Census Bureau programs. For questions regarding other agencies' uses of the NAICS system, contact the specific agency. For access to a list of Federal government agencies, visit www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml.

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  • 18. What is the relationship between NAICS and the Small Business Administration's (SBA) size standards?

    NAICS categories do not distinguish between small and large business, or between for-profit and non-profit. The Small Business Administration (SBA) developed size standards for each NAICS category. To find more information about the SBA size standards, visit www.sba.gov/content/small-business-size-standards. You may also contact SBA's Office of Size Standards on 202-205-6618 or via email at [email protected].

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  • 19. How can I find an occupational NAICS code?

    The NAICS system is used to classify establishments according to their primary activity. It is not a system for classifying occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. For information on that system, go to www.bls.gov/soc/home.htm.

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  • 20. How can I find data (payroll, number of establishments, sales, receipts, etc.) for a specific NAICS industry?

    There are numerous economic statistical programs at the U.S. Census Bureau that publish data on a NAICS basis, at varying levels of detail. Links to these data sets are at www.census.gov/econ/.

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  • 21. Are U.S. international trade data available on a NAICS basis?

    Data on international trade in goods are collected on a commodity basis, whereas NAICS data are on an establishment basis. Commodity groups approximating the NAICS categories were developed, however, using the Harmonized System (HS)-North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Concordance. For additional information, please visit the Foreign Trade Statistics Web site at www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html.

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  • 22. How does NAICS handle market-based rather than production-based statistical classifications?

    The North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) is a complementary system to NAICS. Whereas NAICS focuses on the input and production processes of industries, NAPCS classifies all the outputs of the industries defined in NAICS.

    The objective of NAPCS is to have a market-oriented, or demand-based, classification system for products that (a) is not industry-of-origin based but can be linked to the NAICS industry structure, (b) is consistent across the three NAICS countries, and (c) promotes improvements in the identification and classification of service products across international classification systems, such as the Central Product Classification System of the United Nations. For more information visit the NAPCS Web site.

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  • 23. What is Title 13?

    Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9 (a) prohibits the U.S. Census Bureau from disclosing individual company activities including NAICS and SIC codes. More information on Title 13 can be found at www.census.gov/about/policies/privacy/data_protection.html.

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  • 24. How can I download the NAICS manual?

    Although the 2017 NAICS Manual is not available in hard copy, it can be downloaded from this Web site for free. Additionally, NAICS definitions, index files, and other components of the 2017 and earlier NAICS manuals are available for free in a variety of formats from the "Downloads/Reference Files/Tools" section of this Web site.

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  • 25. How do NAICS codes relate to other classification systems?

    NAICS has been correlated to the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) from the United Nations and to the General Industrial Classification of Economic Activities with the European Communities (NACE). To see or download these correlations, visit the "Concordances" link on this Web site.

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  • 26. My company is overseas. What is my NAICS code?

    NAICS was developed to classify business establishments within the United States, Canada, and Mexico for statistical purposes. If a company has both domestic and foreign locations, only the domestic locations would be assigned NAICS codes for statistical purposes.

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  • 27. If my question isn't here or I still need more information, what should I do?

    If your question isn't listed here, send an email to [email protected]. Please include your telephone number in your email message in case we need to call you for more information.

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 If my question isn't here or I still need more information, what should I do?  

If your question isn't listed here, send an email to [email protected] .  Please include your telephone number in your email message in case we need to call you for more information.

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