Standard Industrial Classification: SIC Codes

In the UK, a Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code is a five-digit code used to classify businesses according to their primary economic activity. It helps government agencies, businesses, and researchers understand the nature of different industries and analyze economic trends.

By Chris Andreou
Last updated
February 6, 2024
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what is a SIC code
what is a SIC code

Standard Industrial Classification: SIC Code

The SIC code is a five-digit Standard Industrial Classification code. These codes are used by government bodies and agencies to systematically identify and categorise the principal business activities of companies operating in the UK.

A Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code is a system used by the UK government to classify businesses according to their activities. The SIC code is a five-digit code that helps identify a company’s primary activities. It is used by Companies House, HMRC and other government bodies to classify businesses for statistical purposes.

The SIC code system was first introduced in the UK in 1948 and is based on the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) system. It is updated every five years to ensure that it remains relevant and up to date.

Even if your company is dormant (99999) or non-trading (74990) you'll still need to provide the appropriate SIC code.

Why is a SIC Code Important?

SIC codes are important for businesses in the UK, as they are used to identify the type of business and the activities it carries out. This helps the government to collect accurate data on the activities of businesses in the UK and to monitor the progress of different industries.

The SIC code is also important for businesses that are looking to set up or have only just started a business. It is used to identify the type of business and the activities it carries out, which helps to ensure that the business is registered correctly with the relevant government bodies.

SIC codes play a crucial role in various aspects of business and government, including:

  • Data Analysis: SIC codes help organizations analyze economic trends, market dynamics, and industry performance by grouping similar businesses together for comparison.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Certain regulations and reporting requirements may be based on a business's SIC code. For example, companies may need to use SIC codes when filing annual returns or completing tax forms.
  • Market Research: Businesses use SIC codes to conduct market research and identify potential customers, suppliers, and competitors within specific industries.
  • Government Policy: Governments use SIC codes to develop policies, allocate resources, and monitor the health of different sectors of the economy.

How are SIC Codes Assigned?

When registering a new company or updating company information, businesses are required to select the SIC code that best describes their primary economic activity. The appropriate SIC code is determined based on the nature of the business's products, services, and operations.

SIC Code Examples

Here are some examples of SIC codes and their corresponding industries:

  • 01110: Growing of cereals (except rice), leguminous crops, and oil seeds
  • 43210: Electrical installation
  • 62020: Information technology consultancy activities
  • 73110: Advertising agencies
  • 69201: Accounting and auditing activities

Each code represents a specific sector or sub-sector of the economy, allowing for precise classification and analysis.

How to Find an SIC Code

If you are looking to set up or have only just started a business, it is important to find out your SIC code. This can be done by using the Companies House website.

The Companies House website has a search tool that allows you to search for a SIC code based on the activities of your business. Simply enter the description of your business activities and the SIC search tool will provide you with a list of relevant SIC codes.

You can also find out your SIC code by visiting the Office for National Statistics website and by searching condensed list of SIC codes.

The condensed list of SIC codes categorises over 700 economic activities within the following 21 broad industry groups:

  • Section A – Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
  • Section B – Mining and Quarrying
  • Section C – Manufacturing
  • Section D – Electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply
  • Section E – Water supply, sewerage, waste management, and remediation activities
  • Section F – Construction
  • Section G – Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
  • Section H – Transportation and storage
  • Section I – Accommodation and food service
  • Section J – Information and communication
  • Section K – Financial and insurance activities
  • Section L – Real estate and activities
  • Section M – Professional, scientific and technical activities
  • Section N – Administrative and support service activities
  • Section O – Public administration and defence; compulsory social security
  • Section P – Education
  • Section Q – Human health and social work activities
  • Section R – Arts, entertainment, and recreation
  • Section S – Other service activities
  • Section T – Activities of households as employers; undifferentiated goods- and services-producing activities of households for own use
  • Section U – Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies

This website has a searchable database of all SIC codes and their descriptions. Simply enter the description of your business activities and the search tool will provide you with a list of relevant SIC codes.

It is important to note that the SIC code is only used for statistical purposes and does not reflect the legal status of a business.

What Happens if I Use the Wrong SIC Code?

If you choose the wrong SIC code when starting your company, or if your main business activities change after forming the company, you can correct your SIC code during the next confirmation statement filing. If you need to make an immediate SIC code change, you can submit your confirmation statement earlier.

How Many SIC Codes does My Company Need?

Majority of the time, using one SIC code is enough for businesses. However, if your business activities are diverse or complex and cannot be adequately described by a single code, you can use up to four SIC codes.

For example, if your company primarily manufactures machinery (SIC code 2822), but also provides repair services for electrical equipment (SIC code 33140), you may need to use both SIC codes to accurately describe the different aspects of your business.

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