Before you do business with the government, you'll need to know the codes – in particular, NAICS, DUNS and CAGE codes. They're essential for your company to have in place before it pursues and wins government contract work.

These ID codes are to government contractors what Social Security numbers are to individuals. And you should use these numbers and codes when promoting and marketing your products or services.

What are NAICS Codes?

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) identifies business establishments by category. It's the first economic classification system to be built based on a solitary economic concept. Economic units that use similar or identicalprocesses to produce goods or services are grouped together.

NAICS codes replaced the U.S. Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system on April 9, 1997. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced the decision to adopt NAICS codes as the industry classification system used by the statistical agencies of the United States.

NAICS was developed jointly by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to provide new comparability in statistics about business activity across North America. NAICS codes also provide for increased comparability with the International Standard Industrial Classification System (ISIC, Revision 3), developed and maintained by the United Nations. You can research these NAICS codes at For additional information about NAICS codes, call the Census Bureau's resident expert on industry classification at (888) 75NAICS.

Are DUNS Numbers Required for Federal Government Contracts?

Dun & Bradstreet's nine-digit DUNS code has become a standard business identifier worldwide. Short for Data Universal Numbering System, DUNS numbers are required for government contractors of many federal government agencies. In fact, you'll need your DUNS number to register with the System for Award Management (SAM) and receive a CAGE code as described below. For details, visit the D&B website at

Who Uses CAGE Codes?

The Department of Defense, which spends 75 cents of every federal contracting dollar, has its own contractor classification system. The Commercial And Government Entity, or CAGE, code is a five-character ID number that identifies contractors. Although originated by the Department of Defense, CAGE codes are also used by such other agencies as the Department of Transportation and NASA.

How to Get a CAGE Code

To get a CAGE code, you must first be registered in SAM, which is a requirement for doing business with the federal government. You can register at You'll be assigned your CAGE code as part of the SAM validation process, and as soon as your registration is active, you can view your CAGE code online when you log in to your SAM account.

SAM allows contractors to fill out one form online rather than completing a separate paper form at every procurement office. Likewise, CAGE codes streamline the process of communicating and doing business with government agencies, so you can concentrate on winning federal government contracts.