The SIC code in the UK with Companies House -let me talk about this one. The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) is a system that is in place to give each UK company an industrial category. There are hundreds of codes in this SIC code list. They also cover all types of business trades in all sorts of sectors.
This system is in use by Companies House, and it is there to identify the trade activity (s) of each company in the UK.
When you set up your own company, it will need to have at least one SIC code. If you have been running your company for some time you should also have an SIC code. The code will be reported to Companies House as part of your public record.
I have many other guides that help you navigate Companies House and these show to report and make certain changes. I have covered in my articles the UK Public Register, the duties of a company director, the Confirmation Statement, your official address as director (and how you can change this to protect your home address), how to change your company name and if you need a company secretary.
History gone by
The codes came out back in 1948, and they are now in use by government bodies. These bodies include Companies House who looks after the register for UK companies. The codes are there to classify all companies in all industry categories for the collection and analyses of data.
What’s more, over the years, the government has decided to amend these codes to reflect new business categories as they appear over time.
The latest list of SIC codes that are now in use came out in 2007. The government published these in early 2008. These are available from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Choosing your SIC code
If you have your own company, you will need to choose an SIC code with Companies House. Your choice should be an accurate description of what your business does. If you do not choose a code when you set up your company, Companies House will reject your application.
When you set a company up in the UK, it needs to choose an SIC code. Selecting this will apply whether it is a) going to be trading straight away or b) if it is going to be a dormant company for some time.
In many cases, your accountant will organise the above process for you as part of the set up of your new company. However, it is your director duties to make sure that you choose the correct SIC code.
Finally, a company may have more than one code if it has different trades.
There is also a maximum of four codes that can you can choose for each company.
Change SIC code
What if I need to change my SIC code?
During your business’s lifetime, you may need to change the SIC code. Some of the reasons why you may need to change your code could be:
- Your business now has a different main activity. It may also now be in a different industry.
- When you first set up your company, you picked the wrong SIC code. It is possible to do this if your business operates in different areas.
Also, some of the SIC codes on the list are not always very clear.
- Your business has started an additional trade, and you need to add in a new SIC code.
How do I make a change to my SIC code?
If you would like to change your SIC code or add a new one, you can do this via the annual Confirmation Statement when you come round to file this. If instead, you would like to do this straight away, you can file an earlier Confirmation Statement.
Incorrect SIC code and common codes for contractors
What if I have the wrong SIC code?
If you have the wrong code, this is not a bad offence! What’s more, Companies House will not come and knock on your door and send your business any fines for this. However, it is best practice to make sure that this is up to date. If you need to change your code, please see the above section. If you also need some help here, please speak to your accountant.
Examples of the common codes for contractors
If you are a contractor working as an IT consultant, the SIC code that you will need to show is:
62020 Information technology consultancy activities
On the other hand, if you are a management consultant, the code that you will need to show is:
70229 Management consultancy activities other than financial management
Further still, you can find the codes for Engineering activities at:
71121 to 71129.
Standard SIC code list that is available online
If you now take steps to set up your own company, you need to check through the latest version of the SIC codes from 2007. The link below from HMRC is a good place to get started here. There is also a condensed list on this page which is much easier to look through rather than the full list:
You can find the full version of the SIC code list on the ONS website:
As a final thought, Companies House should have your correct UK SIC code on record.
What’s more, you will inform them of this when you set up your company for the first time. If you are not sure which code to pick or you cannot find the code that fits your work, please ask your accountant. When you have the correct code on your record, you can then be happy that this is correct.
Link to Contractor Advice UK group on