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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/activities.

For more information about NAICS codes, see the Census Bureau's NAICS pages; note, in particular, the FAQ tab.

Finding NAICS Codes on the Free Web

You can find a company's or industry's NAICS code by going to the Census Bureau's North American Industry Classification System page. In the 2022 NAICS Search search box, enter a keyword that describes the company or industry of interest, keeping in mind that you may need to try searching for multiple terms to find what you're looking for. (For example, to find the NAICS code that would apply to cars, it will be most helpful to search for automobile; to find the NAICS code that would apply to sneakers, you can search for shoe and/or footwear.) After you've run a search, you'll see a list of codes relevant to the term(s) that you entered. Click on any code for more information about the types of business activities classified under that code.

Finding a Company's NAICS Code in a UMGC Library Database

You can find a company's NAICS codes(s) by looking up the company in the following UMGC Library databases:

Gale Business: Insights

In Gale Business: Insights, click on the Browse All Companies button, enter a company's name in the search box, and then click on the company's name on the search results page. The company profile page includes a section titled "Industry" that shows the company's primary industry and NAICS code highlighted in blue. A link is provided for viewing the company's secondary industries.


In Hoovers, enter a company's name in the small search box at the top of the database's home page. On the company overview page, below the business description, you'll see a section titled "Industry," where you'll find the main SIC and NAICS codes associated with the company.

Nexis Uni

In Nexis Uni, click on the Menu link toward the top left-hand corner of the database's home page and then on Company Dossier. You can then enter a company's name in the search box. The company overview page lists the main SIC and NAICS codes associated with the company.

Important note: There is no definitive list of NAICS codes for companies. The NAICS code that you see for a company in a database just indicates what someone thinks the company's primary business activity is. You may therefore see different NAICS codes for the same company in different databases.

Using NAICS Codes in Databases to Find Industry Overviews

If you have the NAICS code for an industry, you can use it to find an overview for that industry by using any of the following databases:

Click on the links above to learn how to find industry overviews in each of the databases listed.

Using NAICS Codes in Databases to Find Industry Trends

If you have the NAICS code for an industry, you can use it to find trends for that industry by using a UMGC Library database such as ABI/INFORM Collection or Business Source Ultimate.

Enter the NAICS code in one search box and use the drop-down menu next to that search box to select the NAICS code entry.

Then, in another search box, enter

Keep the Boolean operator AND between the two search boxes, so that you'll be searching for the NAICS code along with trend*. (Note that the asterisk at the end of trend* ensures that you'll find documents that contain the word trend (singular) as well as documents that contain the word trends (plural).)