New Feature: Global Industry Codes


OpenCorporates is proud to announce our latest feature, global industry codes! While we’ve long collected data for industry codes for a number of jurisdictions (including the UK, France, Norway, even a few US states), we recently finished mapping multiple industry codes to the UN’s international standard for such codes, ISIC (Revision 4).

Industry codes might not sound that sexy, but for understanding, filtering and analysing companies, they are essential. As well as allowing academics and statisticians to do economic and social analysis, they can help investigators and journalists get a better understanding of what a company actually does, or be used to find discrepancies with licences and other company data. For example, it might be interesting to keep track of industry codes in Uber’s corporate grouping, following the recent European Court ruling that the company engages in transportation, not information technology services (Uber have currently classified their UK ones as “Other business support service activities” or “Other information technology and computer service activities”).

They also have a wide range of commercial uses too, from know your customer and regulatory checks, to sales and marketing.

As a result, when a company register makes industry codes available (at least ones that can be mapped to ISIC), OpenCorporates users can now view, search for, and filter companies by their commercial activities, across multiple jurisdictions.


How do industry codes work?

Industry codes are taxonomies that allow legal entities to be grouped according to their business activities. First invented in the United States during the 1930s, SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes used four digits to enable the classification of industries across state borders.

Throughout the 20th century, other Governmental and Proprietary data services have continued to establish their own forms of classification. In 1948, the United Nations created the four digit ISIC code, establishing the main international standard. Subsequently, a number of jurisdictions introduced their own codes to meet local requirements, the majority of which have used ISIC as a framework.

Industry codes are hierarchical in nature, enabling you to filter to increasing granularity. For example, ISIC is subdivided into a 4 level structure:


(1393, ‘manufacture of carpets and rugs’)


(139, ‘manufacture of other textiles’)


(13, ‘manufacture of textiles’)


(C, which includes codes 10-33, ‘manufacturing’)

There are two main types of industry code scheme:

  1. Supra-national schemes, of which the two most important ones are the UN’s ISIC scheme, and the EU’s NACE scheme. These provide a common and coherent framework on which national schemes can be based, or at least mapped to, which in turn allows comparison of industries across multiple jurisdictions and code schemes
  2. National schemes. These have been created by governments (typically the national statistics authority or Ministry of Finance) and are usually tailored in some way to the industrial focus of that country (for example, Norway might have more categories for fishing than would Austria). They are often based on supra-national schemes, although those supra-national schemes are often a level of granularity less than the national ones.

It’s worth noting that not all schemes map cleanly to the supra-national schemes – for example the US’s NAICS system doesn’t map 1:1 with ISIC, nor even n:1 (many NAICS codes to 1 ISIC code), meaning that such mappings have some fuzziness or best-fit to them.

More details

Website users

On the website search results can be filtered by ISIC (Revision 4) sections, which opens up a powerful new way to sort companies.

For example, in the gif below, we used filters to find the 27 companies registered in the UK whose industry codes cover both ‘Mining and Quarrying’ and ‘Human Health and Social Work’ activities:


A full list of section titles you can sort by is available below.

A – Agriculture, forestry and fishing

B – Mining and quarrying

C – Manufacturing

D – Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply

E – Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities

F – Construction

G – Wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

H – Transportation and storage

I – Accommodation and good service activities

J – Information and communication

K – Financial and insurance services

L – Real estate activities

M – Professional, scientific and technical activities

N – Administrative support and service activities

O – Public administration and defence, compulsory social security

P – Education

Q – Human health and social work activities

R – Arts, entertainment and recreation

S – Other service activities

T – Activities of households as employers; undifferentiated goods – and services – producing activities of households of for own use

U – Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies

When you’re viewing the page of a company registered in a jurisdiction that collects industry codes, you’ll now see them underneath the registered address. For example:

API users

Users with an API token can additionally search for companies by exact industry code, together with the scheme it belongs to, which is represented as a unique identifier. For a full list of industry codes we know about, and their identifiers, make the call:

We’ve also done the complicated work of mapping codes together, to make searches consistent and straightforward. For example, this means the call

returns all companies with the UK SIC 2007 code 13939, which stands for the “manufacture of carpets and rugs (other than woven or tufted)”.

This maps up to the European NACE 2 codes 1393, 139 and 13, which can be called using:

In turn, NACE 2 maps up to ISIC Revision 4 codes 1393, 139 and 13:

For more information about viewing the code schemes we know about, and details of specific codes, head to the documentation.

Next steps

As we mentioned above, the US’s NAICS scheme doesn’t map cleanly to ISIC. We’ve done the first part of the mapping (for the five and six digit codes), but are still in the process of mapping the four-digit codes. When we’ve done this, we’ll be releasing this mapping as open-source code, and those companies in states that collect industry codes (sadly, just Utah and West Virginia) will be able to be browsable by ISIC too.

We’re also working on allowing more detailed filtering on the website – watch this space!

Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

EU Horizon 2020 eu-flag-ff242732752ab07b1f70eae7c5646132

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 687967, ChainReact, an effort to make supplier networks transparent, understandable, and responsive, so that companies and their stakeholders can see, react to, and ultimately transform corporate network impacts.

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