Business Research:

NAICS stands for "North American Industry Classification System." NAICS was developed in 1997 to replace the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system that had been in use since 1937.

NAICS codes are used to classify businesses by type, so that data for businesses in North America (i.e., the United States, Mexico, and Canada) can be presented and analyzed in a uniform manner. Codes are reviewed every five years to ensure their relevance, accuracy, and timeliness.

NAICS codes can be up to 6 digits long. The more digits there are in a code, the greater the level of specificity in the classification of a business. The meaning of the digits in a NAICS code is:

Digits 1-2: Economic sector
Digit 3: Economic subsector
Digit 4: Industry group
Digit 5: NAICS industry
Digit 6: National industry

NAICS codes are assigned to a company based on the company's primary business activity.

For more information about NAICS codes, see NAICS FAQs.

Finding NAICS Codes on the Free Web

You can find a company's or industry's NAICS code by going to the North American Industry Classification System page ( In the search box above the 2012 NAICS Search button, enter a keyword that describes the company/industry (for example, to find the NAICS code for Starbucks, you could enter coffee). You'll then see a list of codes relevant to that keyword. Click on any code for more information about the types of business activities classified under that code.

Finding NAICS Codes in Databases

You can also find a company's NAICS code by looking up the company in a UMUC Library database such as Business Insights: Essentials, Factiva, Hoover's, LexisNexisAcdemic, or Mergent Online. Each of those databases lists a company's primary NAICS code on the overview page for the company.

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