What Is Dummy CUSIP Number?

A dummy CUSIP number is a temporary, nine-character placeholder used internally by a company to identify a security until its official CUSIP number is assigned. Real CUSIP numbers are used to identify U.S. and Canadian securities when recording buy and sell orders.

Key Takeaways

  • A dummy CUSIP number is a temporary, nine-character placeholder used internally by a company to identify a security until its official CUSIP number is assigned.
  • Real CUSIP numbers are used to identify U.S. and Canadian securities when recording buy and sell orders.
  • A dummy CUSIP number is supplied by the CUSIP Global Services (CGS), which is managed on behalf of the American Bankers Association by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Understanding Dummy CUSIP Number

A dummy CUSIP number is a temporary nine-character alphanumeric code that acts as a seat saver before the official CUSIP number is assigned. The dummy CUSIP is developed for internal company use, though it may never actually be changed to an official identifier. Dummy CUSIP numbers may also be assigned to securities that are no longer in existence. CUSIP is the abbreviation for the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures.

The first six characters of a CUSIP number identify the issuer of the security, be it a company, government agency or municipality. The next two characters designate the type of issue, meaning whether it is an equity or debt security. The final character is used as a mathematical check to ensure the accuracy of the prior eight numbers.

A dummy CUSIP number is supplied by the CUSIP Global Services (CGS), which is managed on behalf of the American Bankers Association by S&P Global Market Intelligence, and which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. Understandably, these numbers are different from the real CUSIP numbers. There are two formats that have been used to come up with dummy CUSIPs:

  1. The 4th, 5th, and 7th characters are always the number 9.
  2. Real issue number with the number 9 as the 7th character.

North American CUSIP and Foreign CINS

The CUSIP number is a unique ID number given to all equity and registered debt securities in the United States and Canada. CUSIPs were first introduced in 1964, and were developed to establish a distinct difference between securities that are traded on public markets, and to simplify the settlement process and the clearance of associated securities by providing a constant identifier to help differentiate the securities within a trade.

Foreign securities have a number similar to CUSIPs called the CINS number. CINS is an acronym for the CUSIP International Numbering System, which was established in the 1980s to extend the CUSIP system to securities markets outside of North America. Like CUSIP numbers, CINS have nine characters. However, one unique feature of the CINS system is that the first character is always a letter, which signifies the home country of the issuer.

Finding a CUSIP Number

Finding a CUSIP number for a security can sometimes be a challenge. To view the entire database of CUSIP numbers generally requires paying a fee to Standard & Poor's or a similar service that has access to the database. However, there are now several resources that can be used to find and access CUSIP numbers.

For instance, individual companies frequently display their CUSIP numbers to investors on their websites. CUSIPs can also be obtained through the Municipal Securities Rule making Board (MSRB) via the Electronic Municipal market Access (EMMA) system. Furthermore, the information is often listed on documents relating to the security, such as confirmations of purchase or periodic financial statements. CUSIPs can also be accessed through various securities dealers.