CUSIP stands for Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures. A CUSIP number identifies most financial instruments, including: stocks of all registered U.S. and Canadian companies, commercial paper, and U.S. government and municipal bonds. The CUSIP system (formally known as CUSIP Global Services)—owned by the American Bankers Association and managed by Standard & Poor’s Global Market Intelligence—helps facilitate the clearance and settlement process of securities.
CUSIP numbers consist of nine characters (including letters and numbers) that uniquely identify a company or issuer and the type of financial instrument. A similar system is used to identify foreign securities (CUSIP International Numbering System or CINS). CINS employs the same nine character identifier as CUSIP, but also contains a letter in the first position to signify the issuer's country or geographic region.
For more information about how the CUSIP process works, you can contact CUSIP Global Services at (212) 438-6500 or visit its website.