What is a UK SIC Code?

​​UK SIC - Map of United Kingdom

A Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) was first introduced into the UK in 1948 for use in classifying business establishments and other statistical units by the type of economic activity in which they are engaged. The classification provides a framework for the collection, tabulation, presentation and analysis of data, and its use promotes uniformity. In addition, it can be used for administrative purposes and by non-government bodies as a convenient way of classifying industrial activities into a common structure. 

There are 21 sections, 88 divisions, 272 groups, 615 classes and 191 subclasses

How to Read a UK SIC Code

The UK SIC is based exactly on NACE but, where it was thought necessary or helpful, a fifth digit has been added to form subclasses of the NACE four digit classes. Thus, the UK SIC is a hierarchical five digit system. UK SIC is divided into 21 sections, each denoted by a single letter from A to U. The letters of the sections can be uniquely defined by the next breakdown, the divisions (denoted by two digits). The divisions are then broken down into groups (three digits), then into classes (four digits) and, in several cases, again into subclasses (five digits). 






Manufacture of Food Products



Manufacture of Dairy Products



Operation of Dairy and Cheese Making



Butter and Cheese Production


Since 1948 the classification has been revised in 1958, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1997, and 2003. 
Revision is necessary because, over a period of time, new products and new industries to produce them emerge, and shifts of emphasis occur in existing industries.

The 1997 and 2003 changes were not full-scale revisions but responses to user demand for additional detail at the subclass level together with some minor renumbering and revisions. This latest publication is a major revision reflecting contemporaneous changes in NACE. The need for change equally affects all international classifications and they are revised from time-to-time to bring them up to date. On 9 October 1990 the European Council of Ministers passed a regulation to introduce a new statistical classification of economic activities in the European Communities (NACE Rev. 1). In January 2003, a minor revision of NACE Rev. 1, NACE Rev. 1.1, was published followed by a major revision, NACE Rev. 2, effective from 1 January 2008.


UK SIC History Timeline

Note: NACE (English Translation - General Industrial Classification of Economic Activities within the European Communities)

Changes from UK SIC 2003 to UK SIC 2007

SIC (2003)SIC (2007)
AAgriculture, hunting and forestryAAgriculture, forestry and fishing
CMining and quarryingBMining and quarrying
EElectricity, gas and water supplyDElectricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply
EWater supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities
GWholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and personal and household goodsGWholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motor cycles
HHotels and restaurantsIAccomodation and Food Service Activities
ITransport, storage and communicationsHTransport and storage
JInformation and communication
JFinancial intermediationKFinancial and insurance activities
KReal estate, renting and business activitiesLReal Estate Activities
MProfessional, scientific and technical activities
NAdministrative and support service activities
LPublic administration and defence; compulsory social securityOPublic administration and defence; compulsory social security
NHealth and social workQHuman health and social work activities
OOther community, social and personal activitiesRArts, entertainment and recreation
SOther service activities
PActivities of private households as employers and undifferentiated production activites of private householdsTActivities of households as employers; undifferentieated goods- and services-producing activities of households for own use
QExtraterritorial organisations and bodiesUActivities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies

What are the UK SIC Codes used for?

  • Provides a framework for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of data and its use promotes uniformity

  • Used for administration purposes and by non-government bodies as a convenient way of classifying industrial activities into a common structure

  • UK companies are required to change their SIC code to the UK SIC 2007 classification upon filing their annual return from October 1, 2011

Why are UK SIC Codes important?

  • UK SIC Codes identify the line of business that a company operates

  • UK SIC Codes are necessary when filing a company’s annual return

Relationship with ISIC

  • UK statisticians played an important part in the formulation of the first ISIC (International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities), issued by the United Nations in 1948 and revised in 1958, 1968, 1989, 2003, and in 2008