Business activity codes: the ultimate guide for exporters

15 September 2021

From ISIC to SITC and more, here's what export companies need to know about the different business activity codes for international trade.

By Kompass International

15 September 2021

Business activity codes: the ultimate guide for exporters

The International Standard of Industrial Classification (ISIC) has been in use since 1948. You must use it in your export process, but with so many business activity codes, how can you be sure you are using the correct one?

This article will focus on business classification codes. By the end of this page, you should have a good reference for when you need to apply codes for your business activities and why each one is relevant.

What are ISIC and SITC?

ISIC is a method by which all countries can refer to how they produce goods and what is being produced. This allows people from very different areas worldwide to have a shared language to understand what is being created by a company. SITC codes are similar but used instead when it comes to importing and exporting goods.

Using these codes, you can report on data such as financial information related to transfers between businesses. The industry can then analyze its trades, and people can make decisions for improving their commerce area.

Business activity codes

The following is an overview of the most common ISIC classifications, along with a short description of each. It includes the three-digit subcategories, except where a three-digit subcategory does not exist. In those cases, it will list the four-digit subcategories:

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing

011 Growing of non-perennial crops

012 Growing of perennial crops

013 0130 Plant propagation

014 Animal production

015 Mixed farming

016 Support activities to agriculture and post-harvest crop activities

017 Hunting, trapping, and related service activities

021 Silviculture and other forestry activities

022 Logging

023 Gathering of non-wood forest products

024 Support services to forestry

031 Fishing

032 Aquaculture

Mining and quarrying

051 Mining of hard coal

052 Mining of lignite

061 Extraction of crude petroleum

062 Extraction of natural gas

071 Mining of iron ores

072 Mining of non-ferrous metal ores

081 Quarrying of stone, sand, and clay

089 Mining and quarrying n.e.c.

091 Support activities for petroleum and natural gas extraction

099 Support activities for other mining and quarrying


101 Processing and preserving of meat

102 Processing and preserving of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks

103 Processing and preserving of fruit and vegetables

104 Manufacture of vegetable and animal oils and fats

105 Manufacture of dairy products

106 Manufacture of grain mill products, starches, and starch products

107 Manufacture of other food products

108 Manufacture of prepared animal feeds

1101 Distilling, rectifying, and blending of spirits

1102 Manufacture of wines

1103 Manufacture of malt liquors and malt

1104 Manufacture of soft drinks; production of mineral waters and other bottled waters

120 Manufacture of tobacco products

131 Spinning, weaving, and finishing of textiles

139 Manufacture of other textiles

141 Manufacture of wearing apparel, except fur apparel

142 Manufacture of articles of fur

143 Manufacture of knitted and crocheted apparel

151 Tanning and dressing of leather; manufacture of luggage, handbags, saddlery, and harness; dressing and dyeing of fur

152 Manufacture of footwear

161 Sawmilling and planning of wood

162 Manufacture of products of wood, cork, straw, and plaiting materials

1701 Manufacture of pulp, paper, and paperboard

1702 Manufacture of corrugated paper and paperboard and containers of paper and paperboard

1709 Manufacture of other articles of paper and paperboard

181 Printing and service activities related to printing

182 Reproduction of recorded media

191 Manufacture of coke oven products

192 Manufacture of refined petroleum products

201 Manufacture of basic chemicals, fertilizers and nitrogen compounds, plastics, and synthetic rubber in primary forms

202 Manufacture of other chemical products

203 Manufacture of man-made fibers

210 Manufacture of pharmaceuticals, medicinal chemical, and botanical products

221 Manufacture of rubber products

222 Manufacture of plastics products

231 Manufacture of glass and glass products

239 Manufacture of non-metallic mineral products n.e.c.

241 Manufacture of basic iron and steel

242 Manufacture of basic precious and other non-ferrous metals

243 Casting of metals

251 Manufacture of structural metal products, tanks, reservoirs, and steam generators

252 Manufacture of weapons and ammunition

259 Manufacture of other fabricated metal products; metalworking service activities

261 Manufacture of electronic components and boards

262 Manufacture of computers and peripheral equipment

263 Manufacture of communication equipment

264 Manufacture of consumer electronics

265 Manufacture of measuring, testing, navigating, and control equipment; watches and clocks

266 Manufacture of irradiation, electromedical and electrotherapeutic equipment

267 Manufacture of optical instruments and photographic equipment

268 Manufacture of magnetic and optical media

271 Manufacture of electric motors, generators, transformers, and electricity distribution, and control apparatus

272 Manufacture of batteries and accumulators

273 Manufacture of wiring and wiring devices

274 Manufacture of electric lighting equipment

275 Manufacture of domestic appliances

279 Manufacture of other electrical equipment

281 Manufacture of general-purpose machinery

282 Manufacture of special-purpose machinery

291 Manufacture of motor vehicles

292 Manufacture of bodies (coachwork) for motor vehicles; manufacture of trailers and semi-trailers

293 Manufacture of parts and accessories for motor vehicles

301 Building of ships and boats

302 Manufacture of railway locomotives and rolling stock

303 Manufacture of air and spacecraft and related machinery

304 Manufacture of military fighting vehicles

309 Manufacture of transport equipment n.e.c.

310 3100 Manufacture of furniture

321 Manufacture of jewelry, bijouterie, and related articles

322 Manufacture of musical instruments

323 Manufacture of sports goods

324 Manufacture of games and toys

325 Manufacture of medical and dental devices and supplies

329 Other manufacturing n.e.c.

331 Repair of fabricated metal products, machinery, and equipment

332 Installation of industrial machinery and equipment

Electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply

351 Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution

352 Manufacture of gas; distribution of gaseous fuels through mains

353 Steam and air conditioning supply

Water supply; sewerage, waste management, and remediation activities

360 Water collection, treatment, and supply

370 Sewerage

381 Waste collection

382 Waste treatment and disposal

383 Materials recovery

390 Remediation activities and other waste management services


410 Construction of buildings

421 Construction of roads and railways

422 Construction of utility projects

429 Construction of other civil engineering projects

431 Demolition and site preparation

432 Electrical, plumbing, and other construction installation activities

433 Building completion and finishing

439 Other specialized construction activities

Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

451 Sale of motor vehicles

452 Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles

453 Sale of motor vehicle parts and accessories

454 Sale, maintenance, and repair of motorcycles and related parts and accessories

461 Wholesale on a fee or contract basis

462 Wholesale of agricultural raw materials and live animals

463 Wholesale of food, beverages, and tobacco

464 Wholesale of household goods

465 Wholesale of machinery, equipment, and supplies

466 Other specialized wholesale

469 Non-specialized wholesale trade

471 Retail sales in non-specialized stores

472 Retail sale of food, beverages, and tobacco in specialized stores

473 Retail sale of automotive fuel in specialized stores

474 Retail sale of information and communications equipment in specialized stores

475 Retail sale of other household equipment in specialized stores

476 Retail sale of cultural and recreation goods in specialized stores

477 Retail sale of other goods in specialized stores

478 Retail sales via stalls and markets

479 Retail trade not in stores, stalls, or markets

Transportation and storage

491 Transport via railways

492 Other land transport

493 Transport via pipeline

501 Sea and coastal water transport

502 Inland water transport

511 Passenger air transport

512 Freight air transport

521 Warehousing and storage

522 Support activities for transportation

531 Postal activities

532 Courier activities

Accommodation and food service activities

551 Short term accommodation activities

552 Camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks, and trailer parks

559 Other accommodation

561 Restaurants and mobile food service activities

562 Event catering and other food service activities

563 Beverage serving activities

Information and communication

581 Publishing of books, periodicals, and other publishing activities

582 Software publishing

592 Sound recording and music publishing activities

601 Radio broadcasting

602 Television programming and broadcasting activities

611 Wired telecommunications activities

612 Wireless telecommunications activities

613 Satellite telecommunications activities

619 Other telecommunications activities

6201 Computer programming activities

6202 Computer consultancy and computer facilities management activities

6209 Other information technology and computer service activities

631 Data processing, hosting, and related activities; web portals

639 Other information service activities

Financial and insurance activities

641 Monetary intermediation

642 Activities of holding companies

643 Trusts, funds, and similar financial entities

649 Other financial service activities, except insurance and pension funding activities

651 Insurance

652 Reinsurance

653 Pension funding

661 Activities auxiliary to financial service activities, except insurance and pension funding

662 Activities auxiliary to insurance and pension funding

663 Fund management activities

Real estate activities

681 Real estate activities with own or leased property

682 Real estate activities on a fee or contract basis

Professional, scientific, and technical Activities

691 Legal activities

692 Accounting, bookkeeping, and auditing activities; tax consultancy

701 Activities of head offices

702 Management consultancy activities

711 Architectural and engineering activities and related technical consultancy

712 Technical testing and analysis

721 Research and experimental development on natural sciences and engineering

722 Research and experimental development on social sciences and humanities

731 Advertising

732 Market research and public opinion polling

741 Specialized design activities

742 Photographic activities

749 Other professional, scientific, and technical activities n.e.c.

750 Veterinary activities

Administrative and support service activities

771 Renting and leasing of motor vehicles

772 Renting and leasing of personal and household goods

773 Renting and leasing of other machinery, equipment, and tangible goods

774 Leasing of intellectual property and similar products, except copyrighted works

781 Activities of employment placement agencies

782 Temporary employment agency activities

783 Other human resources provision

791 Travel agency and tour operator activities

799 Other reservation services and related activities

801 Private security activities

802 Security systems service activities

803 Investigation activities

811 Combined facilities support activities

812 Cleaning activities

813 Landscape care and maintenance service activities

821 Office administrative and support activities

822 Activities of call centers

823 Organization of conventions and trade shows

829 Business support service activities n.e.c.

Public administration and defense; compulsory social security

841 Administration of the State and the economic and social policy of the community

842 Provision of services to the community as a whole

843 Compulsory social security activities


851 Pre-primary and primary education

852 Secondary education

853 Higher education

854 Other education

855 Educational support activities

Human health and social work activities

861 Hospital activities

862 Medical and dental practice activities

869 Other human health activities

871 Residential nursing care facilities

872 Residential care activities for mental retardation, mental health, and substance abuse

873 Residential care activities for the elderly and disabled

879 Other residential care activities

881 Social work activities without accommodation for the elderly and disabled

889 Other social work activities without accommodation

Arts, entertainment, and recreation

900 Creative, arts, and entertainment activities

9101 Library and archives activities

9102 Museums activities and operation of historical sites and buildings

9103 Botanical and zoological gardens and nature reserves activities

920 Gambling and betting activities

931 Sports activities

932 Other amusement and recreation activities

Other service activities

941 Activities of business, employers, and professional membership organizations

942 9420 Activities of trade unions

949 Activities of other membership organizations

951 Repair of computers and communication equipment

952 Repair of personal and household goods

9601 Washing and (dry-) cleaning of textile and fur products

9602 Hairdressing and other beauty treatment

9603 Funeral and related activities

9609 Other personal service activities n.e.c.

Activities of Households as employers; undifferentiated goods- and services-producing activities of households for own use

970 Activities of households as employers of domestic personnel

981 Undifferentiated goods-producing activities of private households for own use

982 Undifferentiated service-producing activities of private households for own use

Activities of extraterritorial organizations and bodies

990 Activities of extraterritorial organizations and bodies

Another classification of business

There are other methods of business classification available. Kompass is one such company that offers detailed and precise ways of defining your products. In addition, it has over 55,000 product and service codes that you can use when exporting to one of the 54 million companies in its comprehensive database.

Kompass makes use of over sixty advanced filters, tags, and other methods of sorting its classifications. This gives you unprecedented control and simplicity in how you move forward with your trade.

What next?

You should now have a comprehensive understanding of the ins and outs of business activity codes. This overview of the available codes should assist you in moving forward in business, but you may still have queries.

If you have questions about the classification of business codes you use, you should feel comfortable contacting us. Our specialists are on hand to help you, no matter if you use ISIC, SITC, or Kompass’s classification methods. So get in contact to find out more.


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