Company numbers are identifiers issued by corporate registers to give certainty and clarity to legal entity information. When they are well-designed they are unique, persistent and unambiguous. The reason they are so important is that companies change their names relatively frequently, and legal names are even reused, meaning that such identifiers are the only way of categorically identifying legal entities.
Unfortunately while the majority of corporate registers do handle such identifiers properly, OpenCorporates has identified a number of registers where this is not the case – where the identifiers are badly designed, not persistent, or not unique.
OpenCorporates is a world-leader in understanding and handling such identifiers – having dealt with them for the past eight years, and written extensively on why they’re important. Our CEO has also been involved with the Global Legal Entity Identifier System for many years, and on the board of directors for the Global LEI Foundation for the past 4 years.
As part of this, some time ago we created an internal policy paper for how OpenCorporates should understand and deal with such company identifier issues. Over time, we’ve refined and improved this paper, and now, in the spirit of transparency and openness that is at the heart of OpenCorporates, we are making this paper public under a Creative Commons Licence here.
We hope fellow identifier and company data geeks will enjoy it, and obviously welcome comments from all.