What Is a CINS Number?

A CINS number is an international extension of the CUSIP numbering system. CUSIP numbering is used to uniquely identify securities offered only by issuers in the United States and Canada. As with CUSIP numbers, a CINS number consists of nine characters.

International securities, whether corporate or municipal, are identified by a CINS number. CINS is an abbreviation for CUSIP International Numbering System.

Key Takeaways

  • CINS numbers are used to identify international securities and are an extension of the CUSIP system used for U.S. and Canadian securities.
  • A CINS number consists of nine characters that identify the issuer, country of origin, unique security issue, and a check digit.
  • CINS numbers are significant because they are used to identify and resolve transactions involving international securities.

Understanding CINS Numbers

CINS was conceived in the 1980s as part of an effort to extend the CUSIP system to international securities. Currently, the CINS system contains entries for approximately 1.3 million different securities.

Like CUSIP numbers, CINS numbers consist of nine alphanumeric characters. Each issuer is assigned a unique six-digit number. The next two characters identify the unique security issue. The final character is a check digit to help ensure the first eight digits were received or entered accurately. A unique feature of the CINS system is that the first character is always a letter signifying the domicile country of the issuer.

As an extension of the CUSIP system, CINS numbers are ultimately under the management of Standard & Poor’s, with the entire system owned by the American Bankers Association (ABA), which together run the CUSIP system.

Why CINS Numbers Are Important

CINS is comparable in intent to the International Securities Identification Number (ISIN), which was adopted by countries outside of North America for largely the same purpose.

The use of CINS, along with the CUSIP, instead of ISINs are part of what separates the North American–based system from how the rest of the world operates. There has been some disparity in the past between the European Commission and Standard & Poor’s regarding obtaining ISIN identifiers for securities for companies from the United States.

CINS numbers and equivalent identifiers are significant because the codes are used for the resolution of securities transactions and other purposes that allow financial institutions to report transactions to authorities. Though more than one system exists, the codes are not interchangeable across these systems and they cannot be substituted. This means each security has an identifier for both the CUSP and the ISIN systems. Therefore CINS numbers must be used with CUSIP and ISINs must be used with their respective system.

The European Commission (EC) took issue with Standard & Poor's in 2009 regarding the licensing fees that were charged to financial firms in Europe to gain access to U.S. ISINs, which are needed for securities transactions and other purposes. The European Commission asserted that while other providers of such identifying numbers did so free of charge or only charged enough to cover the costs of offering them, the fees Standard & Poor’s required came across as a monopolistic abuse of its role as the sole provider of U.S. ISINs.

Example of a CINS number

Each CINS number consists of a unique sequence of nine letters and numbers.

For example, S08000AA4 represents a security from South Africa (indicated by the letter S). The digits 08000 is code for the issuer while AA represents the rating of the bond and 4 is the checksum digit used to identify the security.