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The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is a taxonomy of products and services for use in eCommerce. It is a four-level hierarchy coded as an eight-digit number, with an optional fifth level adding two more digits.

Version 16, released in 2014,[1] contained over 50,000 commodities. The latest release of the code set is 21.0901 (as of December 2018).[2]

The UNSPSC competes with a number of other product and commodity coding schemes, including the European Union's Common Procurement Vocabulary, Germany's Eclass, and GS1's Global Product Classification.[3]


The UNSPSC was organized upon the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding signed on September 29, 1998 by John S. Svendsen, the director of the Inter-agency Procurement Services Office (IAPSO) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and on November 1, 1998 by Lawrence M. Barth, a Vice President of the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation. The development of the first version was overseen by Peter R. Benson, who was also responsible for the design and development of the code management procedure as a modification of the Delphi statistical forecasting method. The process allowed for the rapid development of consensus without dominance or influence.

The ECCMA, a non-profit membership association, was formed in 1999 to manage and promote the UNSPSC until March 2003, with the release of version 6.0315. The UNDP then appointed GS1 US as code manager in May 2003 and ECCMA develops the ECCMA Open Technical Dictionary (eOTD) and the international standards ISO 22745 and ISO 8000.


The four primary levels of the code are: Segment, Family, Class and Commodity.[2]

Each level is coded in two decimal digits, with '00' treated specially to give segments, families and classes their own eight-digit codes.

Level Code Description
Segment 10000000 Live Plant and Animal Material and Accessories and Supplies
Family 10100000 Live animals
Class 10101500 Livestock
Commodity 10101501 Cats

Thus 'Cats' are coded as 10101501, 'Dogs' are coded as 10101502 and 'Cattle' as 10101516. The class of 'Livestock' is 10101500; the family of 'Live animals' is 10100000, and all in the segment 10000000 of 'Live Plant and Animal Material and Accessories and Supplies'.

Level Code Description
Segment 44000000 Office Equipment, Accessories and Supplies
Family 44120000 Office supplies
Class 44121900 Ink and lead refills
Commodity 44121903 Pen refills

Optionally, a further two digits can be added for the business function, such as 'retail' or wholesale.[4]


The UNSPSC was jointly developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Dun & Bradstreet[5] in 1998 and is currently managed by GS1 US, which is responsible for overseeing code change requests, revising the codes and issuing regularly scheduled updates to the code, as well as managing special projects and initiatives.[6]

Availability and languages[edit]

The codeset is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Hungarian. PDF versions of the codeset are available for free download. A version in Microsoft Excel format is available to members, who can also request changes and suggest additions to the code.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UNSPSC Newsletter – February 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-03-15.
  2. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  3. ^ "FINAL REPORT REVIEW OF THE FUNCTIONING OF THE CPV CODES/SYSTEM" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-09-10. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
  4. ^ "UNSPSC Classification Guidelines" (PDF). Uniform Code Council, Inc. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
  5. ^ Cavinato, Joseph L.; Flynn, Anna E.; Kauffman, Ralph G. (2006). The supply management handbook. McGraw-Hill Professional. p. 439.
  6. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". UNSPSC.org. UNSPSC. Retrieved 2016-07-13.

External links[edit]