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Which Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes get you denied

Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at October 10th, 2017

Before we go any further, just what is an SIC code, anyway?

SIC Codes

A Standard Industry Classification code, or SIC, is an indicator of the kind of business a company is in. The Securities and Exchange Commission developed this system. For example, if your company makes tires and/or inner tubes, then your SIC code would be 3011. The numbers are somewhat intelligent in that there are ranges of industry groups which correspond to the first of the four digits, such as manufacturing corresponds to four digit SIC codes that start with either a 2 or a 3.

The combination of the first and second digits then defines the major industry group. In our example, 30 designates ‘Rubber and Miscellaneous Plastic Products’.

However, the SIC coding system is not the only coding system out there. Here’s what’s new.


The North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS, has its own six digit coding system. For example, in our tires case, the NAICS code might be 441320, which is for tire dealers. But that’s not quite right, now, is it? You’re a manufacturer and not necessarily a dealer. So the NAICS code would start with a string of numerals more like 4420, which is rubber tire manufacturing.  The NAICS sorts businesses for the purpose of gathering, analyzing, and then publishing statistical data related to the United States economy. The NAICS industry codes thereby define establishments as based on the activities in which they are mainly engaged.

In our tires example, the NAICS has several codes corresponding to all sorts of stops that tires make along the way from manufacturing to end user. This includes different types of wholesalers and retailers and the like.

Which do the banks and the credit bureaus use?

They use both. Lenders and credit bureaus want to as accurately as possible determine if your company is in a high-risk industry classification. If it is, then you could get a denial for a business credit card or a loan as based upon your business classification. Some SIC codes will trigger an automatic turn-downs, and higher premiums, thereby reducing credit limits for your business.

You must be careful when you choose an SIC code for your company. The Internal Revenue Service will use the SIC code that you select, in order to determine if your business tax returns are comparable to the other businesses in your industry. Therefore, if your tax deductions do not reasonably resemble the other businesses in your industry, your business could be audited.

Furthermore, some companies are labeled high-risk when they do not select the right SIC codes to classify their company. However, if you understand how the business classification system works, then you can choose the correct code on your first try.

Let’s go back to our tire example on how to choose the proper SIC code for your business. The first two digits of the SIC code will identify the major industry group, the third digit will identify the industry group, and then the fourth digit will identify the industry.

Here’s how you to choose the correct SIC code for your company:

  • The major industry code, 30, is for ‘Rubber and Miscellaneous Plastic Products’.
  • The industry group is 301, ‘Tires and Inner Tubes’.
  • Then 3011 defines the industry, which is also called ‘Tires and Inner Tubes’.

There are certain SIC codes which will get you a loan denial if you choose them for your business classification. So before you choose your SIC code and your NAICS code be sure that you look over this list before you begin to build your SIC codes. Here are some high-risk codes that you should be aware of:

  • Automotive sales
  • The travel industry
  • Real estate investing
  • Anything else with reference to investing of any type
  • Adult entertainment
  • Money lending and collecting
  • Restaurants
  • Dry Cleaning establishment

For automotive sales, for example, you would normally select 5511, ‘Motor Vehicle Dealers (New and Used)’. However, most lenders will automatically turn your business down because of the high-risk factor within the business classification name. Of course you want to be honest with your SIC coding classification. However, if more than one SIC code could apply, there is nothing wrong with choosing the SIC code which will not get you denied by lenders.

Therefore, if you want to have your automobile sales company, you need to develop a business code which has auto and home supply stores, motor vehicle parts and accessories, or carwashes written in the actual business code. That way, you can still operate your real business of “automotive sales” without actually being considered a risk factor.

Choosing the incorrect SIC code could end up costing your business and get you labeled as high-risk,. And this could directly impact your insurance premiums, your financing ability, and even your credit limit recommendations. This small error of selecting the incorrect SIC code could cost your business in the future. Therefore, be sure to do your research before you select an SIC code for your business.

1 Comment

  1. Michelle Caesar says:

    I’m low income and a student San Francisco state university,need to know the best way and quickest way to improve my credit score.

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