Choosing a SIC code for your limited company


A SIC code is a five-digit Standard Industrial Classification code. They are used by government bodies such as Companies House and the Office for National Statistics to systematically identify and categorise the principal business activities of limited companies operating within the UK. Currently, there are more than 600 individual SIC codes. By gathering this information, it is possible to track the number of companies operating in different industries, identify emerging trends, and monitor the strength of various parts of the UK economy.

The Office for National Statistics describes SIC codes as follows:

“The UK standard industrial classification of economic activities, abbreviated as UK SIC, is a 5-digit classification providing the framework for collecting and presenting a large range of statistical data according to economic activity.”

When do I need to provide a SIC code?

When you register a company at Companies House, you must provide at least one SIC code to describe what your business does, even if it is dormant (inactive/not trading). You can choose up to four SIC codes if required.

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The need to supply a SIC code during the company at formation is a new requirement that was introduced on 30th June 2016. Previously, companies did not have to state their SIC code(s) when they were set up. This information was provided on the first annual return (which has now been replaced by the confirmation statement) and when they registered for VAT.

SIC codes must also be confirmed or updated (whichever applies) each year on the Confirmation Statement. Your SIC codes, along with other key company details, will be displayed on public record at Companies House.

Where do I find my company SIC code?

You will find the relevant SIC code(s) for your company by searching through the condensed list of SIC codes from Companies House. It is quite a long list, and often a bit obscure, so we do advise that you find the appropriate SIC code(s) before sitting down to complete your company registration form.

It is important that you only use codes on the condensed list when filing to Companies House, otherwise your registration application or confirmation statement may be rejected.

If you decide to register a company through Quality Formations, you will be able to search through this list on our online application form. If you need any help finding your code, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist.

SIC code categories

On the condensed list of SIC codes, there are 21 main industry categories/sections. Within each section, there are dozens of SIC codes for more specific trade activities within that industry. The main categories are:

Section A: Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Section B: Mining and Quarrying
Section C: Manufacturing
Section D: Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply
Section E: Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities
Section F: Construction
Section G: Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
Section H: Transportation and storage
Section I: Accommodation and food service activities
Section J: Information and Communication
Section K: Financial and insurance activities
Section L: Real estate activities
Section M: Professional, scientific and technical activities
Section N: Administrative and support service activities
Section O: Public administration and defence; compulsory social security
Section P: Education
Section Q: Human health and social work activities
Section R: Arts, entertainment and recreation
Section S: Other service activities
Section T: Activities of households as employers; undifferentiated goods- and services- producing activities of households for own use
Section U: Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies

Some of the trade classifications in these sections are self-explanatory and quite niche, such as ‘Manufacture of wallpaper’. Some are quite broad, like ‘Other cleaning services’. Others are downright intriguing, such as ‘Space transport’.

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How many SIC codes can a company have?

One Standard Industrial Classification code is usually sufficient for most companies, but you may select up to four SIC codes to describe the nature of your company’s business activities. This is not unusual for companies with more complex, specialised or unusual activities.s.

SIC codes for dormant and non-trading companies

You must still provide a SIC code even if your company is dormant or non-trading. The SIC code for dormant companies is 99999. The SIC code for non-trading companies is 74990.

If your company becomes dormant or non-trading after a period of activity, you should update the SIC code on the next confirmation statement.

Likewise, if your dormant or non-trading company becomes active, you should find the relevant SIC code to reflect your new business activities and update this information on the next confirmation statement.

Changing your company’s SIC code

If you provide the wrong SIC code when you form your company, or your main business activities change after company formation, you can provide the correct code when you file your next confirmation statement. If you would rather change your SIC code(s) immediately, you can simply update the confirmation statement early. You can do this online via Companies House WebFiling service or Quality Formations’ online Company Manager.

About the author

James Howell

James Howell, Financial Controller and Senior Manager at Quality Company Formations, is the driving force behind the company’s financial department and is focussed on the success of the business. Throughout the growth of the business and harking back to his many years of experience in accountancy practice, dealing with all types of SMEs, he has developed a keen interest in company formation and company secretarial work. In his spare time, James is a father to 2 young children but keeps up strong interests in both music and sport.

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By James Howell