What is a NAICS Code and Why do I Need One?

North American Industry Classification System manual.What is a NAICS Code?

A NAICS (pronounced NAKES) Code is a classification within the North American Industry Classification System. The NAICS System was developed for use by Federal Statistical Agencies for the collection, analysis and publication of statistical data related to the US Economy.

It was adopted in 1997 to replace the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system in cooperation with the statistical agencies of Canada and Mexico. Their goal was to establish a North American standard. They developed the NAICS as the first economic classification system based on a single economic concept.

How do I get a NAICS Code?

NAICS is a Self-Assigned System; no one assigns you a NAICS Code. What this means is a company selects the code that best depicts their primary business activity and then uses it when asked for their code. If your Business Activities include more than one Unique Line of Business, you may want to use more than one NAICS Code. You can use our Site to view the Available NAICS Codes, as well as use our Keyword search to guide you to the correct NAICS Codes. If you need assistance determining an appropriate NAICS code for your Business Entity, you can contact the Census Bureau at 1-888-756-2427 or [email protected]. The Census Bureau is the Authority in such matters.

Why Do I Need a NAICS Code?

The system was developed for statistical analysis, however, various government agencies, trade associations, and regulatory boards have adapted the NAICS classification system for their internal needs.

Some of these agencies post contract bids to any business within a given NAICS code, such as the SBA through the System for Award Management (SAM). Other government entities may offer tax incentives to businesses within a given NAICS Classification.

Companies also rely on the NAICS code to classify their own customers by industry.  Many Target their Marketing Efforts to Businesses within a particular NAICS Code. NAICS Codes allow them to focus their Targeted Marketing Efforts on companies in similar or identical Industries. By Acquiring NAICS Information, one can gain a better understanding of  their best customers and the industries that might best benefit from their products and services.

Someone Gave Me the Wrong NAICS Code; What do I do?

Some organizations may associate a NAICS Code with you when they interact with you. If you feel that an agency has given you an incorrect NAICS Code, you may reach out to them to solve the problem.  If you have been asked for a NAICS code by an organization or government entity, the requesting organization would be the appropriate entity to contact regarding their need for or use of the code.  

The only instances in which your code can not be fully self assigned for official purposes, is within OSHA, the EPA, and the DEP, which assign codes based on environmental factors and not by revenue.

Again, your NAICS code is reflective of your primary business activity and is almost always a self-assigned system. While some organizations may assign a Code to you for their internal records, they can not do so in a universal capacity.

Have Further Questions about NAICS? Click to View Our Detailed FAQ on NAICS.