CUSIP stands for Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures. Formed in 1962, this committee developed a system (implemented in 1967) that identifies securities, specifically U.S. and Canadian registered stocks, and U.S. government and municipal bonds.

The CUSIP number consists of a combination of nine characters, both letters and numbers, which act as a sort of DNA for the security - uniquely identifying the company or issuer and the type of security. The first six characters identify the issuer and are assigned in an alphabetical fashion; the seventh and eighth characters (which can be alphabetical or numerical) identify the type of issue; and the last digit is used as a check digit.

The CUSIP Service Bureau is operated by Standard & Poor's on behalf of the American Bankers Association (ABA). When setting out to develop the CUSIP system of identification, the ABA basically had two main criteria it was trying to meet. First, it wanted the identification to contain the fewest number of characters possible and to be linked to an alphabetical sequence of issuer names. Secondly, it recognized that the system should be adequate given the current operating requirements while having the flexibility to adapt to any future needs or changes in the operating systems. For more information on the CUSIP system, visit Standard & Poor's CUSIP Service Bureau.

To learn more about CUSIPs, see Old Stock Certificates: Lost Treasure Or Wallpaper? and How do I find the CUSIP number for a particular stock?

  1. Do mutual funds have CUSIP numbers?

    Learn what CUSIP numbers are and how they are used to classify securities, such as mutual funds, registered in the U.S. and ... Read Answer >>
  2. How do I find the CUSIP number for a particular stock?

    Unfortunately, this can be a little difficult as CUSIP numbers are owned and created by the American Bankers Association ... Read Answer >>
  3. Do hedge funds have CUSIP numbers?

    Learn what a CUSIP number is, and whether this number is necessary for hedge funds, ETFs and various other types of investment ... Read Answer >>
  4. How does the ISIN numbering system work?

    The International Securities Identification Numbering (ISIN) system is an international standard set up by the International ... Read Answer >>
  5. How do you get a hard copy of a stock certificate?

    Before online brokers and personally-directed accounts, holding a physical stock certificate was a necessity, as this was ... Read Answer >>
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