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What is a CUSIP?


A CUSIP number is a unique nine digit character code assigned to a US or Canadian security (e.g., bond or stock) to permit borrowers and investors to identify the security.

CUSIP stands for Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures, which is a system owned by the American Bankers Association and managed by Standard & Poor’s. This system, established in the 1960’s, assigns a unique number to every registered security that is issued by a US or Canadian company, as well as those issued by the US government and other government entities. 

CUSIP components

The first six digits of the code represent the issuer of the security. Borrowers that issue a large amount of debt can have more than one set of six digit codes. For example, New York City has in excess of five different issuer codes. Of the final three digits, the next two identify the exact security and the maturity date of the bonds, and the final digit serves as a check digit, which is an automatically generated checksum. 


New York City is a major issuer of bonds, using them to finance various infrastructure projects, including schools, roads, bridges, water systems, and more. One of NYC’s bonds — the New York City Transitional Finance Authority Revenue Subordinated Future Tax Secured Subordinated Series C 1 maturing November 1, 2038 — has a CUSIP of 64971XKK3.

The first six digits — 64971X — identify the issuing government entity. The next digits — KK — identify the type of security, which in this case, is a revenue bond. Finally, the final digit is a check digit to ensure the accuracy of the CUSIP number.

If NYC were to issue another type of bond, the CUSIP would start with the same six digits, but the last three digits will be different to identify the specific security.

What’s important here?

CUSIP numbers can be used by borrowers, investors, and analysts to identify a particular security. 

Each security’s CUSIP number is publicly available. For US governmental issuers, a bond’s CUSIP or information can be located through the MSRB’s Electronic Municipal Market Access system (EMMA). 

CUSIPs are used when buying or selling securities, so investors can ensure they’re purchasing the correct security in the capital markets.