Last Updated: Jan 24, 2020     Views: 34

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) was developed for use in statistical analysis of the U.S. economy, but it has a number of other practical applications as well.

Your NAICS code is self-assigned; you can select the code that best describes your primary business activities. Many businesses have more than one NAICS code. The U.S. Census Bureau, as the authority on NAICS codes, can assist in determining your code or codes. You can contact the Census via email at

NAICS codes have many applications beyond statistical analysis:

  • Business-to-Business marketing – NAICS codes can help you identify potential buyers within your target market.
  • Government Contracting – contracting opportunities issued by federal agencies are assigned at least one NAICS code. Knowing your NAICS code can help you find great public sector opportunities.
  • SBA Certification – the Small Business Administration requires a NAICS code for certification.
  • Business Loans – selecting the right NAICS code for your business can give you a better chance of being approved for a business loan, as commercial lenders will use NAICS codes to make industry comparisons.

Finally, many of the library’s business databases use NAICS codes to classify businesses, and knowing your NAICS code can make them easier to search! You can search by NAICS code in ReferenceUSA’s U.S. Businesses database to identify your competitors or to find potential B2B customers.  In ABI/INFORM, you can try an advanced search using your NAICS code for up-to-date information specific to your industry, or the industry of your potential B2B customers. Similar search functionality is available in Business Source Premier.

If you’d like to learn more about NAICS codes and their uses for small businesses, the U.S. Census has a great article for you. When you’re ready to find your NAICS code, the 2017 NAICS structure is searchable here.

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