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CUSIP Numbers

Updated: Dec. 08, 2023Written By: Kimberlee LeonardReviewed By:

A CUSIP is a number assigned to a registered security such as a stock, bond, or mutual fund so that the security can be uniquely identified.

CUSIP Number

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What Is a CUSIP? Meaning & History

The Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures (CUSIP) assigns a unique number to individual financial instruments, so that they can be readily and correctly identified. CUSIP numbers are assigned to U.S. and Canadian stocks, commercial paper, mutual funds, corporate bonds, and U.S. government and municipal bonds.

The CUSIP is made up of nine letters and numbers. This system was established in 1964 and implemented in 1967. FactSet Research Systems, Inc. manages CUSIPs on behalf of the American Bankers Association (ABA). There are more than 10 million CUSIP numbers for U.S. and Canadian securities. CUSIPs help effectively facilitate trades and settlements of securities by providing unique identifiers.

How CUSIPs are Assigned

CUSIPs are assigned by the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures when a financial security registers as a financial instrument on an exchange. CUSIPs are unique identifiers, so there is no duplicate in the system. Each character in the CUSIP has a meaning.

The first six characters identify the issuer and get alphabetically assigned. The following two characters, the seventh and eighth characters, identify the type of security, with the last digit serving as a check digit.

What Gets a CUSIP Number

CUSIPs serve a wide range of U.S. and Canadian securities. You will find a CUSIP assigned for:

CUSIP Number Purpose & Uses

CUSIPs are used to settle and clear transactions properly. While most investors don't need to know the CUSIP number of a security they are buying or selling because they will use the ticker symbol, brokerage and clearing firms use them to ensure the transaction is recorded correctly.

The exception is regarding bonds. Investors should identify bonds with a CUSIP number to prevent confusion regarding bond purchases and sales. The reason is that one entity might have multiple bonds issued for different durations or interest rates.

CUSIP vs. Tickers

Both CUSIPs and ticker symbols are used to identify securities traded on public exchanges. The stock ticker symbol is an alphabetic representation that dates back to the 1800s when the New York Stock Exchange began. The symbols send trade and price information via teletype, referred to as a ticker. This is why they are called ticker symbols. CUSIPs were established in the 1960s and are better suited for computers to track trades.

The CUSIP is operated by Factset Research Systems Inc. Ticker symbols are registered by the New York and American stock exchanges.

Tip: Most investors only need the stock symbol for investment purposes. If you need the CUSIP, check the company's filed documents or website to find it.

How To Find CUSIP Numbers

There are many ways to get access to a CUSIP:

  • To access a complete list of CUSIP numbers, investors can subscribe to Standard & Poor's service.

  • Financial platforms such as Bloomberg offer CUSIP information for most securities.

  • Most publicly traded companies may list their CUSIP on their website.

  • Mutual funds will list the CUSIP in the prospectus.

  • Trade confirmations or annual financial statements show CUSIPs.

  • Another location to find CUSIPs is through the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) through its Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) system.

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a query tool that accesses the database. Enter the company name and the symbol, then the CUSIP and company documents will appear.

Importance of CUSIP to Investors

The CUSIP number is a key identifying number used to help settle financial transactions. The CUSIP is used for U.S. and Canadian securities such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and commercial paper. This unique identifier helps market participants to readily and correctly identify specific securities.

This article was written by

Kimberlee Leonard profile picture
Kimberlee brings professional experience to her writing. She started as a FINRA Series 7 broker and later transitioned her career into owning an insurance agency and preparing taxes.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have no stock, option or similar derivative position in any of the companies mentioned, and no plans to initiate any such positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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Comments (2)

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preserving profile picture
Good information. ETFs also have CUSIPs.
bmj11 profile picture
I can confirm that Canadian Mutual Funds dont have any CUSIP or ISIN # as they are not mandatory.
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