NACE code definition and use

The NACE code refers to the classification of European enterprises using a set of 4 digits. It has been used in 28 countries since 1970 but was revised in 2008. Compulsory in the European Union, it is mainly used for statistical purposes. This single BOM is useful for those who want to target company codes in several countries.


What does NACE code stand for?

The term" NACE " is the acronym for "Nomenclature statistics on the economic activities of the European Community".

This nomenclature is common to all EU countries and lists companies according to their business activities. Every company in the EU has a NACE code, which makes it easy to identify its economic sector. For example, a company manufacturing basic pharmaceutical products falls into the "21.10" category, whether it is based in Belgium, Italy or elsewhere in the EU.


How to read a NACE code?

The NACE code is broken down into 4 levels:

  1. Section: indicated by a letter
  2. Division: designated by a code the first 2 digits
  3. Group: identified by the 3rd digit
  4. Category: identified by the 4th digit

For example, an Internet Service Provider is designated by the code J61.20, where:

  • J is the section code for Information and Communication
  • 61 is the Telecommunication division
  • 2 is the Wireless telecommunication group
  • 0 is the Wireless telecommunication category

However, you will rarely see the letter preceding the NACE code. Usually, only numbers are used.

The European Union has listed 615 four-digit codes. However, Member States may add a 5th level. For instance, in Belgium, there are 943 NACE codes. They are called NACEBEL codes.


A 50-year-old nomenclature

The first version of the NACE code list was created in 1970. Since then, it has been revised several times to better reflect the economic reality. The current revision titled NACE REV.2 was released in 2008.


What is the purpose of activity codes?

The classification of companies at European level makes it possible to compile a wide range of statistics.

It is crucial to carefully chose your NACE code when you register with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises. Your classification in a specific category determines your obligations and the aids you may be entitled to.

Companies may also use NACE codes to segment their client and supplier databases.


How to find a company's NACE code?

Several online platforms and websites display companies’ NACE codes, including the “Public Search” tool of the ECB. You can also download the list of all NACE 2020 codes.

NACE codes appear in various official documents such as:

  • The company's articles of association published in the Moniteur belge,
  • The annual accounts filed with the National Bank.


Which countries use nace codes?

28 European states currently use the NACE code:

  1. Germany
  2. Austria
  3. Belgium
  4. Bulgaria
  5. Cyprus
  6. Croatia
  7. Denmark
  1. Spain
  2. Estonia
  3. Finland
  4. France
  5. Greece
  6. Hungary
  7. Ireland
  1. Italy
  2. Latvia
  3. Lithuania
  4. Luxembourg
  5. Malta
  6. The Netherlands
  7. Poland
  1. Portugal
  2. Czech Republic
  3. Romania
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Slovakia
  6. Slovenia
  7. Sweden



The marketing benefit of NACE codes

This common classification facilitates the work of marketeers. Let's say you want to target life insurance companies (NACE code 66.01). Rather than spending hours searching for the contact details of these companies, you can purchase a nace code list containing reliable and usable data for several countries, defined by NACE codes.


Difference between sic and nace

" SIC ", or " Standard Industrial Classification "refers to the nomenclature used in the United States and the United Kingdom. SIC codes are used to classify companies according to their core activity.



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