How to Locate the CUSIP Number for a Stock

The CUSIP number, also known as the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures number, is a unique nine-character identification number assigned to all stocks (and registered bonds) in the U.S. and Canada. It is used to create a concrete distinction between securities that are traded on public markets. The system is in place to facilitate the settlement process and the clearance of associated securities.

CUSIP numbers are nine-digits, alphanumeric, and used to identify securities including municipal bonds. A CUSIP number is similar to a serial number. The first six characters are known as the base or CUSIP-6, and these characters uniquely identify the security issuer. The seventh and eighth digits identify the issue of the security, and the ninth digit is an automatically generated check digit.

Key Takeaways

  • The CUSIP number is the unique identifier for every publicly-traded security.
  • This distinct number identifies the company that issued the security and what type of security it is.
  • The CUSIP distinguishes securities from one another and facilitates the quick identification and exchange of stocks or bonds.
  • Investors with a subscription to Standard & Poor's can access a database of CUSIP numbers.
  • In addition to being located on most companies' websites, there are querying tools online to search CUSIP numbers by company name.

How to Find a Security's CUSIP Number

Unfortunately, finding a CUSIP number for a stock can be a little difficult because the numbers are owned and created by the American Bankers Association and operated by Standard & Poor's. To get access to the whole database of CUSIP numbers, you will need to pay a fee to Standard & Poor's or a similar service that has access to the database.

History of CUSIP

The CUSIP was created in response to the heavily-reliant paper environment of Wall Street. Established in 1968, CUSIPs were used by all clearing corporations by 1972.

There are a few ways you can find the CUSIP number for a specific company or security:

  • Individual companies will often display their CUSIP numbers to investors on their websites. 
  • CUSIP numbers can also be accessed through the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) via the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) system.
  • CUSIP numbers are also often listed on official statements relating to the security, such as on confirmations of purchase or periodic financial statements, or can be accessed through various securities dealers.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hosts a database query tool. After entering the name of the company you're interested in, the CUSIP/Ticker database displays documents such as financial report filings, company information, and securities information including the CUSIP number.

How Do I Look Up a CUSIP Number?

You can search across CUSIP databases if you have a subscription through Standard & Poor's. Otherwise, there are lookup sites such as the SEC CUSIP look-up tool to search for an individual number.

How Do You Look Up a CUSIP Number of a Bond?

The process for finding the CUSIP number is similar to that of finding the number for a stock. The issuing entity will often publicly list all CUSIP numbers for any issued bonds, though this might be limited to only outstanding bonds. Otherwise, there are database search tools similar to those used for stocks.

What Does a CUSIP Number Tell You?

A CUSIP is the unique identifier for a specific security. It is used to create a concrete distinction between each security traded within public markets. The CUSIP number itself identifies the issuing company and the issue of the security.

Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Fast Answers: CUSIP Number."

  2. CUSIP Global Services. "Universally Recognized Identifier for Financial Instruments."

  3. CUSIP Global Services. "History."

  4. Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. "CUSIPs: A Quick Guide for Issuers," Page 12.

  5. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "CUSIP/Ticker Data Search."

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