Subject Research Guides

Guide to NAICS

What is NAICS?

NAICS stands for North American Industry Classification System.

NAICS is an industry classification system that defines industries based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged. The system was developed by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to provide comparable statistics across these three countries. It went into effect in 1997. Prior to that, each country used its own classification system. The United States used the U.S. Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system.

The NAICS uses a six-digit coding system to identify a particular industry and its placement within the hierarchy of this classification system. The first two digits designate the sector, the third designates the sub-sector, the fourth designates the industry group, the fifth designates the NAICS industry, and the sixth designates the national (U.S) industry.

Finding NAICS Codes in Books

Use the following book to find NAICS codes:
North American Industry Classification System: United States - R HF 1042 .N6 2012

  • Look up the name of your industry in the alphabetic index in the back of the book. Use keywords describing your business, for example, television, bottled water, automobile repair, clothing, etc. Note the classification code next to the industry name; for example, 443111 is the code for “household-type appliance stores.”
  • Look up the first three numbers of the classification code, in this example 443 or “Electronics Appliances Stores” in the table of contents in the front of the book. Turn to the indicated page number and start leafing forward until you find a description for your specific business, in this case 443111.
  • Read the description and decide if it fits your business. If it does not, browse the alphabetical index again for other NAICS codes that fit your keyword or consider using another keyword.

Finding NAICS Codes in Research Databases

Business Insights: Essentials
Select the "Industries" tab, then enter the industry description to find the NAICS Code.

Finding NAICS Codes on the Web

NAICS Association

U.S. Census Bureau

Page Last Updated: July 30 2015

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