What Is a CUSIP Number?

CUSIP Numbers Explained in Less Than 4 Minutes

Definition
A CUSIP number is assigned to investible financial instruments, including stocks of all registered U.S. and Canadian companies, U.S. government and municipal bonds, and commercial paper.
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A CUSIP number is assigned to investible financial instruments, including stocks of all registered U.S. and Canadian companies, U.S. government and municipal bonds, and commercial paper. CUSIP numbers help facilitate the accurate clearance and settlement of securities.

CUSIP is an acronym that stands for Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures. Learn how the system of CUSIP numbers works and about its history.

Definition and Examples of CUSIP Numbers

Each CUSIP number is a unique, nine-digit identification that includes numbers and letters. The first six digits are known as the base or CUSIP-6.

Note

The first six numbers identify the issuer. The next two digits are used to identify each issue of an issuer (essentially, what type of security it is). The last digit is known as the “check digit” because its purpose is to ensure the accuracy of the CUSIP number.

Similar to the three- or four-letter ticker symbol used to identify a company’s shares of stock that are publicly traded, CUSIP numbers are used to process and settle securities transactions.

Although stock-issuing companies have CUSIP numbers, CUSIP numbers are more prominently used to identify and track bonds. For example, a municipal entity such as the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority has more than 100 CUSIP numbers designating outstanding bonds.

Note

The CUSIP system is owned by the American Bankers Association (ABA) and managed by Standard & Poor’s Global Market Intelligence. A similar system that is used to identify foreign securities is known as CUSIP International Numbering System, or CINS.

CUSIP Global Services, which operates the CUSIP system on behalf of the ABA, has a master file that stores CUSIP numbers of more than 10 million securities offered in the U.S. and Canada.

How CUSIP Numbers Work

CUSIP numbers are publicly available. Issuers also often list their CUSIP number on official documents such as financial statements. For example, Apple (AAPL), like other public companies, lists its CUSIP number as 037833100 on its financial statements filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) operates the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) website, where you can find a wealth of information about securities using their CUSIP numbers.

Note

You could also search a company’s CUSIP on Google, then confirm it through EMMA. In addition, many brokers, such as Fidelity Investments, offer online tools to find CUSIP numbers if you have an account with them.

CUSIP vs. CINS and ISIN numbers

The CUSIP International Numbering System (CINS) is an identification system developed in 1989 as an extension to CUSIP for the purpose of identifying issuers of investible interests in more than 30 non-North American markets. Like CUSIP numbers, CINS numbers contain nine characters, with a letter in the first position that signifies the issuer’s country or geographic region.

The International Securities Identification Number (ISIN) is a global code that facilitates cross-border trading of securities.

What It Means for Investors

Individual investors can use CUSIP numbers to access information on stocks or bonds they are considering. However, they are more likely to research stocks, mutual funds, and other investment options by looking them up by name and reviewing financial reports such as a 10-K, and other reports that publicly owned companies are required to file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

CUSIP numbers are useful to brokerages and other financial institutes as a means of mapping individual securities to investors to make sure transactions are properly settled and recorded, as well as to track payouts of dividends.

Key Takeaways

  • CUSIP, which stands for Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures, is a numbering system that helps facilitate the accurate clearance and settlement of securities in the U.S. and Canada.
  • CUSIP numbers are nine digits, and include numbers and letters that designate the issuer and what type of security it is.
  • The CUSIP numbering system is owned by the American Bankers Association (ABA) and managed by Standard & Poor’s Global Market Intelligence.
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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “CUSIP Number.”

  2. Multiple Securities Rulemaking Board. “Using CUSIP Numbers on EMMA Dataport.”

  3. Illinois State Toll Highway. “CUSIP Numbers of Outstanding Bonds (as of July 1, 2021).”

  4. CUSIP Global Services. “About CGS.”

  5. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “Apple Inc. SC 13G.”

  6. CUSIP Global Services. “About CGS Identifiers.”

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