Determine Your NAICS Code

What is NAICS?

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) classifies business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. economy.  The NAICS industry codes define establishments based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged.  NAICS codes are also used for administrative, contracting, and tax purposes.  NAICS is production oriented (not product oriented) and categorizes businesses with others that have similar methods of production.

SBA uses NAICS as a basis for its size standards.  Size standards using NAICS as their basis apply to all Federal government programs, including procurement.  When the Federal government intends to acquire goods or services, it identifies the NAICS code that describes the principal purpose of that procurement.  Your business may have myriad capabilities, and the NAICS code for a given procurement opportunity may not be the same as your primary NAICS code.  That will not keep you from bidding or making an offer, so long as you meet the size standard for the procurement and have the capacity to provide the goods or services.

How do I qualify for Federal contracting opportunities set aside for small businesses?

The Federal government sets aside procurement opportunities for small business concerns.  To qualify for a “small business set-aside” you must first be a for-profit business concern and meet the small business size standard for the NAICS code that the contracting officer assigns to the procurement.  That may or may not be the same as your principal business activity.  However, if it is not, it does not stop you from bidding, if you meet the size standard and can fulfill the contract requirements.  For more information about qualifying as a small business concern, please visit What is a Small Business? and SBA’s Guide to Size Standards.  For more about SBA’s contracting programs visit SBA’s Contracting web page.

To participate in Federal procurement (whether or not you are a small business concern) and some other programs, you must register your firm in the Federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM)On July 29, 2012, SAM replaced the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), with which you may be familiar.  Please visit for more information and to register or update your registration which SAM carried over from CCR.  If you or your customers need help (troubleshooting, data concerns, general information, etc.) with SAM, contact the Federal Service Desk or call 1-866-606-8220.  To send a question via email to the FSD helpdesk, click on “Ask A Question.”   It will take you to the “Your Account” tab.  There you can sign up for an account (if you do not already have one); please follow the guidance provided.  You must register at least one NAICS code, but can include more, in your SAM profile.

You must also complete the representations and certifications in SAM.  Registration is not required for subcontracting with other companies, but SBA recommends that you consider doing so.  Large government contractors have small business goals; they search for and track small businesses with whom they do or can do business.  Registering in SAM is one way you can put more irons in the fire and let them know you are there.  Once you complete your SAM registration, it will tell you if you are a small business for one or more of the NAICS codes you put into your SAM profile. You can register in SAM all the NAICS codes that describe what you do, can do, or would like to do as a prime or a subcontractor.

Do I need an NAICS code for anything else?

You might find that many states, cities, and other political subdivisions (e.g., airport and bridge authorities) use or adapt SBA’s size standards based on NAICS for their own procurement programs.  Federal and non-federal entities may also use NAICS codes for administrative and tax purposes.  For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation provides reduced HAZMat registration fees for small businesses; but those businesses must identify their NAICS code when they apply for the reduced fee.  The United States Census Bureau and other Federal statistical agencies use NAICS codes for collecting and reporting economic data.

How do I find my NAICS code?

Visit the United States Census Bureau NAICS website to identify your NAICS code(s).  We recommend using a single word for a search term.  You can truncate your search term to get even more results, and then select from them the most appropriate for you.