A Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code is used to identify the business activity of your company, such as ‘Information technology consultancy activities.’
First introduced in 1948, the codes are used by Companies House and other government organisations to separate the economic activities of companies into specific groups for the collection and analysis of data. SIC codes are also used to promote uniformity across all sectors of economic activity.
Over the years, the codes have been updated to reflect new types of businesses or economic activity. The latest list of codes was revised in 2007 and published in January 2008.
As a company director, it is up to you to choose the code that accurately describes what your company does when you first register the business at Companies House. This applies whether or not your company will be active from that date forward, your business is a non-trading company, or the company is to remain dormant.
If you’ve never heard of SIC codes before, don’t worry, our brief guide tells you all you need to know.
Does my company need a SIC code?
Yes, you need to choose a SIC code that reflects the type of economic activity your business is engaged in when you are incorporating the company at Companies House. You won’t be able to proceed with registering your company until you do so and in fact, your application will be rejected.
Where can I find the right SIC code?
To find the right SIC for your limited company, check out the updated version of codes published online by the Office for National Statistics. There is a condensed version of the list of codes available at Companies House.
Find the right code that applies to your type of business on this list to use when you register your company and/or when you complete your annual confirmation statement.
Most contractors form companies via their accountants or other intermediaries, so they are likely to undertake this on your behalf.
That said, as a director, you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of information submitted during the incorporation process, so it’s worth spending some time doing some background reading on the formation process, and what your responsibilities are.
SIC codes and what they mean
The following is a snapshot of the condensed SIC code list as it appears on the Companies House website. Codes are published under sections relative to types of industry, for example, section A is for agriculture, forestry and fishing; section B for mining and quarrying; section C for manufacturing, and so on.
Here are some example SIC codes from Section J (Information and Communications):
|62012||Business and domestic software development|
|62020||Information technology consultancy activities|
|62030||Computer facilities management activities|
|62090||Other information technology service activities|
|63110||Data processing, hosting and related activities|
When you select a code for your business it is used by Companies House and other government bodies in the way described above. The classification group you choose to reflect your business activity is also open for the general public to view in your company listing.
Do you need more than one SIC code?
In most instances, you’ll be able to find a single SIC code that accurately describes what your business does but if the company is involved in various economic activities that are clearly distinct, you may have to select more than one code. You can choose up to a maximum of four codes to identify what your business does from the list published by Companies House.
What if I need to change my company’s SIC code?
You can change your SIC code by completing a new confirmation statement, for instance, if the main business activity of the company changes. You aren’t required to tell Companies House your code has changed before your next confirmation statement is due although you can do so at any time.
There is no cost for changing codes and companies often choose to apply the correct codes immediately to keep their record accurate and up to date.
What if I choose the wrong code?
If you choose the wrong code by mistake, you can amend the code by updating your confirmation statement before the due date or wait until the statement is due.
Codes for dormant and non-trading companies
As stated above, dormant and non-trading companies still have to provide the appropriate code. A dormant company should select SIC code 99999; Non-trading companies should select SIC code 74990.