UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities (UK SIC)

The United Kingdom Standard Industrial Classification (UK SIC) is a 5-level classification system of economic activities. It was created based on the European Community Classification of Economic Activities (NACE). It was first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1948 and was revised 7 times in 1958, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1997, 2003, and 2007 when it became the version that is currently used.

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UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities (UK SIC) crosswalk tables to over 50 different industry classifications.


The current implementation of The UK SIC consists of 5 digits that categorize companies into 21 sections of which each is indicated by a letter from A to U.

The classification is hierarchical, in that each 2-digit division is broken down into 3-digit groups, further broken down into 4-digit classes and 5-digit subclasses.

In cases, where a given class does not have an explicitly given subclass, the subclass (which is the only subclass for that class) is generated by appending zero to the class code. In other words - classes are explicitly broken down into subclasses, where 2 or more subclasses exist for a given class. Otherwise, the subclass is omitted, presumably for brevity.

For example, class 10.84 - Manufacture of condiments and seasonings does not have a subclass in the official manual to the classification. In this example, the single subclass of 10.84 is going to be 10.84/0, with the title & description inherited from the parent class. Such an approach is implemented by the Companies House in the UK.

In total there are:

  • 21 sections
  • 88 divisions
  • 272 groups
  • 615 classes
  • 191 subclasses

in the current (UK SIC 2007) version UK SIC system.

Section Code Description Group code range # of groups # of classes # of classes
A Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 01-03 13 33 2
B Mining and Quarrying 05-09 10 10 2
C Manufacturing 10-33 95 224 51
D Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply 35 1 7 0
E Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities 36-39 6 6 0
F Construction 41-43 9 24 6
G Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 45-47 21 99 23
H Transportation and storage 49-53 15 25 16
I Accommodation and food service activities 55-56 7 10 8
J Information and communication 58-63 13 25 10
K Financial and insurance activities 64-66 10 32 22
L Real estate activities 68 3 5 3
M Professional, scientific and technical activities 69-75 15 26 20
N Administrative and support service activities 77-82 19 35 20
O Public administration and defence; compulsory social security 84 3 8 0
P Education 85 6 9 2
Q Human health and social work activities 86-88 9 7 2
R Arts, entertainment and recreation 90-93 5 16 4
S Other service activities 94-96 6 18 0
T Activities of households as employers; undifferentiated goods- and services-producing activities of households for own use 97-98 3 0 0
U Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies  99 1 1 1

The current version of UK SIC follows NACE Rev. 2 up to the four-digit level. The difference is that the UK SIC code adds subclasses. For example, in both NACE Rev. 2 and UK SIC, class 59.11 is Motion picture, video and television programme production activities. UK SIC 2007 further adds three subclasses: 59.11/1 - Motion picture production activities, 59.11/2 - Video production activities, 59.11/3 - Television programme production activities.

History & versions

SIC was first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1948 to classify businesses by the type of economic activity in which they were operating. It has used in public statistics by government departments. SIC 1948 version of UK SIC followed the same principles as the United Nations Standard Industrial Classifications of all Economic Activities (ISIC) that were published in the same year and had UK statisticians playing an important role in its formulation. (see p. 6 of Standard Industrial Classification Revised 1980).

Since then the classification used in the UK has been revised 7 times since then in: 1958, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1997, 2003, and 2007. Each new revision differentiates from the previous one in accordance with shifts in the economy of the United Kingdom.

SIC 1958

This revision was drafted by the Inter-Departmental Committee with the assistance of trade organizations and individual experts who were familiar with the various industries, in accordance with the standard principles of the United Nations Classification of All Economic Activities, in order to distinguish new industries not previously identified separately.

SIC 1968

The Standard Industrial Classification of 1968 was also developed by the Inter-Departmental Committee, assisted by trade organizations and individual experts familiar with the different industries, in accordance with the United Nations Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities. This version of standard industrial classification had 27 orders (a type of division used at the time) which were indicated by the roman numerals.

UK SIC 1980

This revision was released by an Inter-Departmental Committee representing the main Government Departments that collect and use the statistics. The goal of the revision was to examine and eliminate differences between The UK SIC and NACE (1970), which improved the comparability of the data collected in the United Kingdom and other European Economic Community (EEC) countries. It had 10 Divisions, 60 Classes, 222 Groups, and 334 Activity Headings. Besides having a different structure, UK SIC 1980 differentiated from SIC 1968 by the prominence of the Energy production industries.

UK SIC 1992

This revision was released in 1992, by the Central Statistical Office of the United Kingdom. It was based exactly on NACE rev. 1, however, a fifth digit was added where it was helpful or necessary, for example, 17.40/1 - Manufacture of soft furnishings was a subclass of 17.40 - Manufacture of made-up textile articles, except apparel. This version of the UK SIC had 17 sections, 60 divisions, 222 groups, 503 classes, and 142 subclasses.

1997 Revision of the UK SIC 1992

The United Kingdom Standard Industrial Classification of 1997, was not a complete revision, but rather a response to user demand for some additional subclasses, a number of changes at a class level, and some minor renumbering. For example, 20 new classes were created, as well as, 40 new five-digit subclasses, such as 74.81/4 - Film processing. Subclasses that were not classified elsewhere or “other” subclasses started being indicated by /9 for example, 15.94/2 - Manufacture of other fermented fruit beverages became 15.94/9.

UK SIC 2003

Similar to the UK SIC 1992, UK SIC 2003 was not a full-scale revision but rather a response to the change in user demand that implemented some minor changes. New classes: 74.86 - Call centre activities and 72.21 - Publishing of software were added, as well as 41 new five-digit subclasses. Meanwhile, 29.40 - Manufacture of machine tools and 40.10 - Production and distribution of electricity were broken down into three classes, while 40.20 - Manufacture of gas; distribution of gaseous fuels through mains, 51.64 - Wholesale of office machinery and equipment and 51.65 - Wholesale of machinery for use in industry, trade and navigation were each broken down into two classes. This version of UK SIC was based on NACE Rev.1.1. It had 17 sections of which each was indicated by a letter from A to Q, 62 divisions, 225 groups, 517 classes and 285 subclasses. Section C - Mining and quarrying and section D - Manufacturing were further broken down into 2 and 14 subsections respectively.

UK SIC 2007

The UK SIC 2007 is the first major change since 1992. With this version, the number of sections increased from 17 to 21 and the number of divisions increased from 62 to 88 from the previous version of the UK SIC. Even though the overall characteristics of the SIC were not changed, some new concepts at the section level were introduced. For example, fishing was merged into the A - Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing section instead of being a separate section in UK SIC 2003. A new J - Information and communication section was introduced. Some Divisions in C - Manufacturing section were created, as mentioned on the 3rd page of the official UK SIC 2007 manual:

New divisions in manufacturing, representing important new industries or old industries that have increased their economic or social relevance, have been created, such as division 21 (Manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations) and division 26 (Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products). The scope of the latter differs from division 30 (Manufacture of office machineryand computers) in SIC (2003), making it a better tool for statistics on high-tech activities.”

Where is it used?

UK SIC 2007 is used by government agencies to systematically identify and break down the core business of the companies operating in the UK. The data is used to track the number of companies in various industries, identify current and emerging trends and monitor the current state of the UK economy.

One example is The Office for National Statistics, which is the United Kingdoms largest independent producer of official statistics, using UK SIC to measure the total economic output of the country.

Another example is Companies population in United Kingdom list of statistics that includes Distribution of companies by SIC code, which showcases the percentage of companies that operate in different economic activities in the United Kingdom based on their UK SIC numbers.

Every company registered with Companies House must provide at least one SIC code that describes the main business activity of the company in question. One company may provide up to four SIC codes if required.

The company's UK SIC codes must be validated or updated and will appear in the public company register along with other important information about the company registered with Companies House.

Further resources

Download UK SIC

UK SIC conversion tables

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