What is a SIC Code?

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes are four-digit numerical codes assigned by the U.S. government to business establishments to identify the primary business of the establishment. The classification was developed to facilitate the collection, presentation and analysis of data; and to promote uniformity and comparability in the presentation of statistical data collected by various agencies of the federal government, state agencies and private organizations. The classification covers all economic activities. (See: What is a NAICS Code?)

The SIC system arrays the economy into 11 divisions, that are divided into 83 2-digit major groups, that are further subdivided into 416 3-digit industry groups, and finally disaggregated into 1,005 4-digit industries.

What is a Primary SIC Code?

Each and every company will have a primary SIC code. This number indicates a company's primary line of business. What determines a company's primary SIC code is the code definition that generates the highest revenue for that company at a specific location in the past year.

Helpful SIC Code Tools

How to Read a SIC Code

The first two digits of the code identify the major industry group, the third digit identifies the industry group and the fourth digit identifies the industry. Please see example below:

Categories

General
Specific

Division
(Top Level)

  • 20-39 - Manufacturing
Arrow Right

Major Group
(2nd Level)

  • 25 - Furniture and Fixtures
Arrow Right

Industry Group
(3rd Level)

  • 252 - Office Furniture
Arrow Right

Industry
(Final Level)

  • 2521 - Wood Office Furniture

Note: The digit "9" is used in the third or fourth digit position of the classification code to designate miscellaneous industries not elsewhere classified (NEC). These miscellaneous classifications are not comprised of homogeneous primary activity groups. They are grouped together and treated as a separate industry in order to retain the homogeneity of the other industries in the group.

SIC History

Timeline of SIC

1937
SIC Codes Established
1987
OMB dramatically revises SIC codes in accordance with rapidly changing economy
1991
International Conference on the Classification of Economic Activities held
1992
OMB establishes the Economic Classification Policy Committee to develop a new classification system
1994
January 1, NAFTA goes into effect
1997
NAICS codes introduced
Present
SIC codes have been continually updated by private data companies for marketing and classification purposes

OMB - Office of Management and Budget
SIC - Standard Industrial Classification
NAICS - North American Industrial Classification System
NAFTA - North American Free Trade Agreement

How do Businesses use SIC Codes?

  • Companies use SIC codes to identify customers by industry code (See: SIC Business Lists)
  • Professionals use SIC codes to segment markets for marketing campaigns and customer research
  • Companies append SIC codes to their customer list to determine what industries their customers operate in. For future marketing campaigns, companies know which industries to further market to (See: SIC Code Append)
  • For business lists, SIC codes are more specific and comprehensive than NAICS codes (See: SIC vs NAICS)
  • To identify competitors, public and private
  • Companies that operate in a certain industry use a specific SIC code when filing with the SEC so that the type of business is properly identified
  • Identifying government contracts by their SIC description
  • State and Federal Registrations
  • Getting a DUNS number
  • Tax purposes
  • Your business SIC code is often asked for on various applications and forms.
  • Lenders use SIC codes to help identify the industry affiliation of your company. Therefore it's vital to ensure that you have the correct SIC code for your business classification

How does the Government use SIC Codes?

  • To promote uniformity and comparability in the presentation of statistical data collected by various agencies of the federal government, state agencies, and private organizations
  • SIC codes allow the gathering and analysis of data quickly and efficiently
  • The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) uses SIC codes when sorting company filings
  • Tax classification
  • SIC codes organize industries utilizing a numerical system that defines a business according to its highest revenue source at a particular location for research applications
  • SAM - System for Award Management
  • Traditionally, government contracts were awarded and identified by SIC code (See: What is a NAICS code)

Why You need to use SIC Codes?

SIC codes have been defined by the U.S. Government as the most exact industry classification. Use SIC codes for targeting purposes by accessing the 15+ million SIC code directory of companies. Identify your current customers by their SIC code and find new clients within the same or similar industries. SIC codes are required for state registration, federal registration, tax purposes, when filing your DUNS number, and when seeking eligibility for government contracts.