UMGC Library

Business Research: NAICS Codes


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 2017 NAICS Search search box, enter a keyword that describes the company/industry (for example, to find the NAICS code that would apply to Starbucks, you could enter coffee or coffee shop). You'll then see a list of codes relevant to the keyword that you entered. 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: GlobalHoover'sMergent Online, or Nexis Uni. Each of those databases lists a company's primary NAICS code on the overview page for the company.

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 Complete.

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).)