Finding NAICS Codes

Open http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/ in another browser window to work through this tutorial side by side.

What is NAICS?

NAICS stands for North American Industry Classification System. It is the standard for classifying business establishments and it groups them according to similarity in the processes used to produce goods or services.

All industries will have at least one associated NAICS code.

What do the digits mean?

NAICS is a two- through six-digit system, offering five levels of detail. Each digit in the code is part of a series of progressively narrower categories. The more digits in the code signify greater classification detail.

The first two digits designate the economic sector.

The 3rd digit designates the subsector.

The 4th digit designates the industry group.

The 5th digit designates the NAICS industry.

The 6th digit designates the national industry.

The 5-digit NAICS code is the level at which there is comparability in code and definitions for most of the NAICS sectors across the three countries participating in NAICS (the United States, Canada, and Mexico).

The 6-digit level allows for the United States, Canada, and Mexico each to have country-specific detail.

A complete and valid NAICS code contains six digits.

What is an example?

Here is an example of different levels of NAICS codes and their meanings:

72: Accommodation and Food Services (sector)

722: Food Services & Drinking Places (subsector)

7225: Restaurants and Other Eating Places (industry group)

72251: Restaurants and Other Eating Places (NAICS industry)

722514: Cafeterias, Grill Buffets, and Buffets (national industry)

As you can see, with each digit, the description becomes more specific.

Can you have more than one NAICS code?

Absolutely. Many companies have a diversity of business activities. For example, General Mills manufactures products from cereal to ice cream, so it will have several 6-digit NAICS codes to represent these different types of business activities.

Likewise, your product or service may fit into more than one industry, so you may have more than one NAICS code that describes your industry.

What are SIC codes?

SIC is the Standard Industrial Classification system and NAICS replaced SIC in 1997. There will be no further revisions of the SIC. Other organizations and state and local agencies might continue to use the SIC for their own purposes. To find the SIC codes and their descriptions, visit the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) website, which maintains a SIC Manual.

To learn more about the differences between the original 1997 NAICS and the SIC, visit the "History" link on the NAICS website.

Practice finding a NAICS code

1 of 6Meet Julia.woman in a field

She is interested in starting a vegan, raw, fast food style restaurant. Naturally, she wants to conduct some research first to see what she's up against.

You are going to help Julia out by finding the industry code for fast food restaurants.

Practice finding a NAICS code

2 of 6

To your right is the live NAICS website. On this website, type "fast food" into the search box and select 2012 NAICS Search.

What is the NAICS code for Fast-food restaurants?

Practice finding a NAICS code

3 of 6Click the code link (722513) to see the industry description for Fast-food restaurants.

What is the name of the NAICS industry under which fast-food restaurants fall?

Which of the following is a characteristic of this industry?

Practice finding a NAICS code

4 of 6Notice the wide variety of businesses that fall under Limited-Service Restaurants.

Which of the following is also considered a Limited-Service Restaurant?

Julia has also thought about making her restaurant buffet-style. 

Under what NAICS code are buffets? (Note: you can find this information in the Cross-References section of the web page).

Practice finding a NAICS code

5 of 6In addition to researching the fast food industry, Julia is interested in researching the broader restaurant industry.

The first two digits in an NAICS code refer to the economic sector.

The first three digits refer to the economic subsector.

Therefore, in order to find out what broader categories an industry belongs to, you can search for just the first two or three digits in a code.

What is the economic subsector (first three digits) under which fast-food restaurants fall?


What is the economic sector (first two digits) under which fast-food restaurants fall?

Practice finding a NAICS code

6 of 6

Congratulations! You have completed this tutorial.

If you need help finding NAICS codes for your particular industry, contact a librarian.

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