Skip to content

What is a SIC code?

Written by

Last editedNov 20202 min read

First implemented in 1937, SIC codes are used to classify businesses according to the primary industry they belong to. Although they’ve since been replaced, SIC codes are still widely used in the United States and abroad. But what does SIC code stand for? How do I find the SIC code for my company? Get the inside track on business SIC codes with our informative article.

What does SIC code stand for?

So, what is a SIC code? SIC stands for Standard Industrial Classification. Essentially, SIC codes are four-digit codes assigned by the U.S. government to identify a company’s primary business. Although the term “SIC code” has since been replaced (in the United States) by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS code), they’re still used by firms and government agencies to classify the industry that different businesses belong to.

How do company SIC codes work?

The SIC system breaks the economy down into 11 divisions, which are then divided into 83 two-digit major industry groups. These groups are divided once again into 416 three-digit industry groups. Finally, these industry groups are separated into 1,005 four-digit industries. Each company has a primary business SIC code, which indicates the main business activity of a company. Usually, the main business activity is whatever is the highest revenue driver for your company.

How do you read business SIC codes?

Once you understand how to read SIC codes, it’s much easier to understand the system. The first two digits identify the major industry group, the third digit identifies the industry group, and the fourth digit identifies the industry itself. Let’s see an example:

  • 3715

Here, 32 represents the major industry group, which is Transportation Equipment. 371 represents the industry group, which is Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment. Finally, 3715 refers to the industry, which is Truck Trailers. In other words, the SIC code for businesses that manufacture truck trailers is 3715.

What are SIC codes used for?

Companies use business SIC codes for a broad range of activities. Here’s a rundown of some of the main uses associated with company SIC codes:

  • Classification – Companies use SIC codes to classify their customers/potential customers according to industry. Furthermore, firms can use business SIC codes to identify their regional/industrial competitors by searching for companies in similar sectors via SIC codes.

  • Targeted marketing – Marketing departments may use SIC codes to create targeted marketing campaigns, as they can be a very effective way to segment markets. Also, SIC codes may be used in customer research.

  • Administrative – There is a range of different administrative tasks that require SIC codes, including state/federal registrations, and acquiring a DUNS number.

  • Banking – Banks and creditors may use company SIC codes to identify which industry your firm belongs to before making a decision about whether or not to offer credit.

How do I find the SIC code for my company?

Now that you know a little more about SIC codes, you’re probably wondering how to identify your own business’s company SIC code. Fortunately, there are many different SIC code lookup tools available online, which should help you find the correct code. You can use the United States Department of Labor’s Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) System Search tool to search for company SIC codes by keyword, for example. If you know your NAICS code, you can use the NAICS & SIC crosswalks tool to find the corresponding SIC code for your NAICS code.

We can help

GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

Get StartedLearn More
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Contact sales

Try a better way to collect payments, with GoCardless. It's free to get started.

Try a better way to collect payments

Learn moreSign up