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SIC and NAICS Codes: Step 1: Learning About SIC/NAICS Codes and Types of Companies

Explains what these codes are and how to use them to search in business directories.

SIC/NAICS Code Tutorial

In this Guide, you will be using business directories. These directories use a system of number codes, in systems called SIC and NAICS, to arrange businesses by type, so the user can find, for example, all the manufacturers of communications equipment.

These numbers are explained in this short video:

picture of tutorial video linking out to tutorial

Finding SIC or NAICS Codes

Many business directories have a look-up feature or cheat sheet that lets you find a code that will represent the type of business you're looking for. Here are some other places to search by key words to find an appropriate code:

What Kind of Company Is It?

The kind of company may be a factor in whether you find it in a given directory.

  • A public company is one that sells stock on the open market
  • It is relatively easy to find detailed information about U.S. public companies, because they are required to register with and report to the Securities and Exchange Commission; their stock prices are reported daily
  • Small, local companies are usually private
  • A large company may be either private or public
  • Some large companies are private, e.g., Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Private companies are not required to disclose financials and other information

If you do not find a large company in a directory, it may be private; many directories include only public companies. Another possibility is that the company you are looking for is a subsidiary, or smaller branch, of a larger company. A to Z Databases indicates ownership structure in a business description under Corp. Family Tree.