Appendix VII: International Securities Identification Number (ISIN) Code System

International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
May 2002
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One initial point of contact for compilers could be the national numbering agency (NNA). As explained in Chapter 4, Section III, NNAs allocate a unique identifier to each security. In addition, they are linked into the Association of National Numbering Agencies’ (ANNA’s) Global ISIN Access Mechanism (GIAM) network. This allows them to make enquiries concerning any security worldwide that has an ISIN number, regardless of which NNA allocated the number.

Box A7.1 provides a list of NNAs. The ANNA Web site ( contains the official directory of members and Internet links to NNA sites.


In 1989 the Group of Thirty1 recommended the adoption of ISIN codes as the international standard for the identification of securities. Although ISINs had been in existence since 1981, there is little evidence of their use before 1989. In 1990 ANNA was formed with the primary objective of maintaining and implementing the international standard. The International Standards Organization (ISO) designated ANNA as the registration authority to coordinate all aspects of the implementation of the ISIN numbering system.

In 1994, at the initiative of ANNA, GIAM (the Global ISIN Access Mechanism) was developed to link NNAs and GIAM participants electronically, allowing them to pass ISIN information to each other.

In 1995, ISO designated ANNA as maintenance agency and registration authority of the ISO 10962 (Classification of Financial Instruments [CFI]).

In the past several years, ANNA has been working out a new strategy to guarantee the full implementation of ISIN and CFI codes and the swift and general availability of the codes to users. The global financial industry has been rapidly moving toward the automated processing of securities transactions (Straight-Through Processing), and the ability to precisely identify the securities has become essential. In this context, ANNA has developed a new network for the exchange of information among participant members, called GIAM-2, based on the combination of CD-ROM and Internet technologies.

ISIN Codes

The standard provides a uniform structure for the ISIN, a number that uniquely identifies securities. It details NNAs that are responsible for issuing the ISIN in each country. In those countries where no NNA is in operation, three NNAs have agreed to act as a substitute agency on a regional basis.

ISINs consist of a total of 12 characters, as follows:

  • The first two characters are the alpha-2 country code as issued in accordance with the international standard ISO 3166 of the country where the issuer of equity securities is legally registered or in which it has legal domicile. For debt securities, the first two digits represent the country of the lead underwriter of the security. In the case of depository receipts, such as American depository receipts (ADRs), the country code is that of the organization that issued the receipt instead of the one that issued the underlying security.
  • The next nine characters are the local number of the security concerned. Where the national number consists of fewer than nine characters, zeros are inserted in front of the number so that the full nine spaces are used.
  • The final character is a check digit computed according to the modulus 10 “Double-Add-Double” formula.

Box A7.1:National Numbering Agencies

CountryNumbering Agency
ArgentinaCaja de Valores S.A.
AustriaOesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
AustraliaAustralian Stock Exchange
BelgiumC.I.K.—Secretariat des Valeurs Mobilieres
BrazilBolsa de Valores de Sao Paulo
BulgariaBulgarian National Bank
CanadaCanadian Depository for Securities Ltd.
Costa RicaCentral de Valores—Ceval
CroatiaCentral Depository Agency, Inc.
CyprusCyprus Stock Exchange
Czech RepublicSecurities Commission
EgyptCapital Market Authority
EstoniaEstonian Central Depository For Securities
FinlandFinnish Central Securities Depository Ltd.
FranceSicovam S.A.
GreeceCentral Securities Depository S.A.
Hong Kong SARThe Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd.
HungaryCentral Clearing House and Depository (Budapest) Ltd.
IndonesiaIndonesian Central Securities Depository
IndiaSecurities and Exchange Board of India
InternationalEuroclear Operations Centre
Iran, Islamic Republic ofTehran Stock Exchange Services Company
IrelandIrish Stock Exchange
IsraelTel Aviv Stock Exchange
ItalyUfficio Italiano dei Cambi
JapanTokyo Stock Exchange
Korea, Republic ofKorea Stock Exchange
LatviaLatvian Central Depository
LuxembourgCedel Bank
MalaysiaKuala Lumpur Stock Exchange
MexicoS.D. Indeval, S.A. de C.V.
NetherlandsAex—Clearing and Depository N.V.
PakistanCentral Depository Co. of Pakistan Ltd.
Panama, Republic ofBolsa de Valores de Panama
PeruBolsa de Valores de Lima
PhilippinesPhilippine Stock Exchange, Inc.
PolandNational Depository for Securities
RomaniaNational Securities Clearing Settlement Depository Corporation
RussiaNational Depository Center
SingaporeStock Exchange of Singapore Ltd.
SlovakiaStredisko Cennych Papierov, A.S.
SloveniaCentral Securities Clearing Corporation
South AfricaJohannesburg Stock Exchange
SpainComision Nacional del Mercado de Valores
Sri LankaColombo Stock Exchange
SwitzerlandTelekurs Financial Information Ltd.
Taiwan Province of ChinaTaiwan Stock Exchange Corporation
ThailandThailand Securities Depository Co., Ltd.
UkraineNational Depository of Ukraine
United KingdomLondon Stock Exchange
United StatesCusip Service Bureau
Venezuela, Bol. Rep. deBolsa de Valores de Caracas, C.A
Yugoslavia, Fed. Rep. ofFederal Commission for Securities and Financial Market

In the case of securities (other than debt securities, where an NNA recognized by ANNA operates), this organization issues the ISINs for securities whose issuer is registered or domiciled in the country where the NNA operates. For debt securities, the NNA that issues the ISIN is either one of the international securities clearing organizations or the responsible NNA in accordance with ISO 6166. In the case of those countries where no NNA exists, a substitute agency allocates the number.

The standard ISO 6166 describes the structure of the ISIN codes and which organizations are allowed to allocate ISIN codes to which securities. The aim of the guidelines is to obtain a uniform process among the various NNAs for the allocation of ISIN codes.

CFI Code

The CFI code has been developed to address a number of problems that have concerned the financial community for the past several years. The following problems, among others, have affected the financial community:

  • lack of consistent and uniform approach to grouping financial instruments,
  • use of similar terminology for instruments having significantly different features in the different countries, and
  • inability to group securities in a consistent manner, which leads to reports of holdings being categorized differently.

The benefits of the new code include the following:

  • definition and description for an internationally valid system to classify financial instruments,
  • provision of a set of codes to be used by all market participants in an electronic data-processing environment and easier electronic communication among participants, and
  • improved understanding of the characteristics of financial instruments will lead to a better understanding by investors.

The CFI reflects characteristics that are defined when a financial instrument is issued and that remain unchanged during its lifetime. The CFI consists of six alphabetical characters.

The first character indicates the highest level of classification (category).


  • Equities (E)
  • Debt instruments (D)
  • Entitlements (Rights) (R)
  • Options (O)
  • Futures (F)
  • Others/Miscellaneous (M)

The second character indicates specific groups within each category.

Groups (e.g., for equities):

  • Shares
  • Preferred shares
  • Convertible preferred shares
  • Units, for example, unit trusts/mutual funds
  • Others

The third to sixth character indicate the most important attributes to each group.

Attributes (e.g., for equities):

  • Voting right
  • Ownership/transfer restrictions
  • Payment status
  • Form

Global ISIN Access Mechanism (GIAM) Network

NNAs allocate ISIN codes in accordance with ISO 6166 and on behalf of their customers for the securities that those customers issue. In addition to the fundamental process of allocating numbers, the NNA’s role also includes ensuring that the ISINs for those securities are published, disseminated, and used as widely as possible throughout the world.

The NNA may also provide information services to its own organizations and to its customers relating to ISINs issued by other Numbering Agencies in other countries. Therefore, NNAs have a basic need for agreed standards for defining and exchanging ISIN information among themselves and a networking vehicle to carry that information. GIAM was conceived by ANNA members in the early 1990s to help meet those needs.

The primary objective of the GIAM Project is to support NNAs by providing a networking vehicle to aid communication among the numbering agency members of ANNA and other authorized organizations in the securities industry. The aim is to achieve rapid dissemination of ISIN information and to provide standardized methods for entering, exchanging, and querying ISIN information.


GIAM-1 started operation in 1994 but was superseded by GIAM-2 and was terminated in July 1999. The defined ISIN record and batch layouts originally established for GIAM-1 have been continued in GIAM-2.


GIAM-2 is operational and has its own search engine to facilitate locating ISIN records registered in its own “ISIN keyword dictionary.” It uses the Internet as its basic communications vehicle for distributing ISIN records among GIAM participants, but it is also available on CD-ROM. ISIN data relating to more than 500,000 ISIN records from 48 NNAs are now included in the GIAM search engine.


A private sector group based in Washington, D.C., that reports on issues pertaining to the securities markets.

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