Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between ISIN and CUSIP


Codes are developed to convert a word, phrase, or letter into another form and used in communication, rules, signals, security, and other purposes. Every facet of human undertaking utilizes codes. Government agencies use them and so do financial institutions. Two such codes being used in trade and finance are the ISIN and CUSIP.

The International Securities Identification Number (ISIN) is an alpha numeric code that contains 12 characters. The ISIN code has a country code composed of two letters, a national security identifier composed of nine alphanumeric characters, and one check digit. Its purpose is for the uniform identification of securities that are traded and settled. It is used on shares, options, debt security, derivatives, and futures trading. It is being used in most parts of the world especially in Europe.

The country code being used, ISO 3166-1 alpha-2, is provided by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The national security identifier is provided by the National Numbering Agency (NNA) of each country.

The check digit is derived using the “Modulus 10 Double Add Double” technique wherein letters are converted to numbers by adding their position in the alphabet to nine. Odd and even numbers are segregated then the first group is multiplied by two. The products of the first group and the second group are added and the ten’s modulus of the sum is taken. The result is then subtracted from ten and the ISIN check digit is realized.

The Committee on Uniform Security Identification Purposes (CUSIP), on the other hand, is a North American alphanumeric code that has nine characters used for securities trade clearing and settlement. It is used primarily in the United States of America. It contains the base which is the first six characters that identifies the issuer and assigned in alphabetical sequence, the seventh and eighth characters that identifies the issue, and the ninth character which is the check digit. The check digit is calculated by converting letters to numbers according to their position in the alphabet. All second digits are then multiplied by two to come up with the CUSIP check digit.


1.“ISIN” stands for the “International Securities Identification Number” while “CUSIP” stands for the “Committee on Uniform Security Identification Purposes.”
2.ISIN is being used to identify securities that are traded and settled internationally while CUSIP is used in securities that are traded, cleared, and settled in North America particularly in the USA.
3.ISIN contains twelve alphanumeric characters while CUSIP contains nine alphanumeric characters.
4.ISIN includes a two character country code which is provided by the ISO while CUSIP does not.
5.ISIN has nine alphanumeric characters which are the national security identifier while CUSIP has six characters that identify the issuer and two characters that identify the issue.
6.Both contain check digits that are located at the end of the code and while the ISIN check digit is derived by converting letters to numbers by adding their position in the alphabet to nine, in CUSIP they are converted by assigning them their ordinal positions in the alphabet.

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1 Comment

  1. I think one important information is missing in #5: the nine ISIN alphanumeric characters which are the national security identifier correspond exactly to the CUSIP for a North American security (by ISO 6166 standard) !

    You can find more information, and an ISIN to CUSIP convertor on my site: http://sites.google.com/site/isincodestools !

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