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CUSIP – Committee on the Uniform Security Identification Procedure Numbers

Committee on Uniform Security Identification Procedure Number (CUSIP) Definition

This is a nine-character alphanumeric code used to identify a North American financial security for the clearance and settlement of trades. It was adopted under Accredited Standards X9.6 as an American National Standard. It is owned by the American Bankers Association and operated by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The operating body which is known as CUSIP Global Services (CGS)  is the National Numbering Agency (NNA) for the whole of North America, and CUSIP is the National Securities Identification Number (NSIN) used for the products from the US and Canada. CGS is used to assign all the NSIN in the US.

A Little More on CUSIP

The CUSIP system was developed by a committee formed in 1964 which later established the CUSIP Service Bureau in 1968 at the time of Wall Street paper crunch. This system has been growing over time to cover a wide range of securities, IPO’s, preferred stock as well as the listed options of US and Canada.

The database of CGS has issuer and issue-level identifiers together with standardized descriptive data for over 14 million financial instruments and entities. CGS is also responsible for assigning the ISIN in more than 35 markets as the designated national numbering agency.

Antitrust review

The European Commission charged S&P capital IQ back in November 2009 with abusing its position as the only provider of ISIN codes for US securities through requiring a licensing fee for their use from European financial firms and data vendors. This behavior was regarded as unfair pricing citing cases like clearing or regulatory compliance where there are no other alternatives.

The European Commission argued that other similar agencies around the world did not charge the fees at all or did so depending on the distribution costs and not usage. CGS/S&P capital IQ disagreed with the commission but offered to develop a low-cost, low-value feed or particular US ISINs to be used by the participants of the European Economic Area. Later, a formal agreement was reached.


The CUSIP code contains nine characters and the first six are the base, and they uniquely identify the issuer. These issuer codes are alphabetically assigned from a series which includes intentionally built-in gaps for the possibility of future expansion. The 7th and 8th character are used to identify the exact issue while the 9th digit is a checksum that is automatically generated. Sometimes the last three characters are letters which provide room for expansion.

In each collection of 1,000 numbers, 990 to 999 and 99A to 99Z are for internal use. This allows a user to assign an issue number to any issuer relevant to his holdings but doesn’t qualify for coverage under the CUSIP numbering system. Other issuer numbers are reserved for the user for them to be assigned to non-security assets or to number the internal assets which are miscellaneous.

Although the 7th and 8th character represent the exact issue, the format largely depends on the type of security. The numbers represent equities, and the letters represent fixed income. In commercial papers, the first character is gotten from taking the letter code of the maturity month while the second is the day of maturity. Letters are used for numbers over 9.

The first security to be issued by any issuer is numbered as 10, and then subsequent issues are numbered through the addition of 10 to the last number used. This prevails up to 80 where the next issue is 88 which then goes down by tens. The issue number 01 is used in labeling every option on equity from that issuer.

Fixed income labels utilize a similar method, but they use letters instead of digits since there so many of them. The first issue is labeled AA, and then the next is A2 followed by 2A and A3. The letters I and O are omitted to prevent them from being mistaken as 1 and 0. However, CUSIP has some special characters used with private placement numbers in the insurance industry.

The 9th digit is generated automatically using the Modulus 10 Double Add Double technique which is based on the Luhn algorithm. It is calculated by multiplying every second digit by two. In the case of letters, they are converted to numbers by their ordinal position in the alphabet beginning with A=10.

References for Uniform Security Identification Procedure (CUSIP) number

Academic Research on Committee on Uniform Security Identification Procedure (CUSIP) number

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