CUSIP or Committee on Uniform Security Identification Procedures is a committee that supplies a unique nine-character ID number for stocks and registered bonds (called a CUSIP number) in order to streamline the clearing and settlement processes of securities.
The committee was formed in the mid-1960s specifically to create standardized identification numbers for North American stocks as well as government and municipal bonds . The CUSIP system is owned by the American Bankers Association and operated by Standard & Poor’s. Representatives from leading financial institutions make up the system's board of trustees.
CUSIP has given unique identification numbers (which function like bar codes) to more than 8 million financial instruments issued by corporations, government agencies, and municipalities. Coverage includes IPOs, CDs, and more. The numbers consist of nine characters (letters and numbers), which identify who issued the security and what type of security it is.
The CUSIP Service Bureau (CSB) is funded by issuers, who pay a one-time fee to get a CUSIP number assigned, and by licensees who pay for access to CSB's proprietary data, which includes CUSIP numbers. CUSIP membership gives access to all numbers. Fidelity Investments provides a search engine that lists CUSIP numbers.