Answered By: Emilie Codega
Last Updated: Oct 27, 2021     Views: 60

Identifiers in Business Information Databases

Which identifiers are available in Baker Library databases? 


It can be more efficient to search for companies or securities using identifiers than using names.  Identifiers eliminate problems around spelling variations, abbreviations and various corporate designations.  Also, many identifiers do not change even if a company changes its name.  There are many different identifiers available for companies and securities.  Most databases have their own identification codes, but there are also universal codes assigned by government agencies or other bodies.  Identifiers can either relate to companies or to specific securities issued by companies.

The universal identifiers that work across several databases are:






There are also proprietary identifiers used by publishers in their own databases.  The most commonly used proprietary identifiers are:



Capital IQ ID

Factset Entity OD


Universal Identifiers: Definitions 

Ticker- Tickers can change at any time and can be reused by other companies.  Companies can have multiple tickers.  Tickers usually range from 1 to 4 characters.  These are not a stable identifier and should be avoided.

CUSIP- Issued by the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures.  A company’s CUSIP changes infrequently and CUSIPs are never reused.  CUSIPs are used to identify securities in the USA and Canada.  CUSIPS are 9 digits.  The first 6 digits identify the issuing company, the seventh and eight digits identify the specific issue, and the ninth character is a check digit.

SEDOL – Issued for UK companies only.  SEDOLs are 7 characters with the last character being a check digit.

ISIN – International Securities Identification Number. These are issued to companies in all countries. Consists of 12 characters.  The first 2 alphabetical characters identify the country of origin.  The next nine digits are unique to the company (for US companies this will be the CUSIP, for UK firms the SEDOL).  The final digit is a check digit.

CIK – Central Identity Key issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The identify companies that file with the SEC.  The CIK is a ten-digit string.  CIKs are never reused and are rarely changed. CIKs can have leading zeros.

Proprietary Identifiers: Definitions 

PERMNO – Used only by the Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP).    The PERMNO is a 5-digit number.  It identifies a specific security issued by a company.  Companies in CRSP are identified by a PERMCO.  Codes are never reused.

GV Key – GV Keys are unique to Standard and Poor’s databases (Compustat and Capital IQ).  This code represents a company.  The GVKey is a 6-digit code and can have leading zeros.  The GVKey does not change through the life of a company.

Capital IQ ID – These are unique to the Capital IQ database.  IDs are numeric codes.

Factset Entity ID - FactSet has entity IDs for companies.  The Entity ID is eight characters.  Factset also provides and ID for securities, the Perm SEC ID. 

See the corresponding Fast Answer Identifiers available by database for more information on identifiers by database.