A CUSIP number is a way of referring to a security, including a mutual fund, a stock or a bond. Ticker symbols are often more widely used for stocks and funds, but CUSIP numbers can be useful too. You can look them up through brokerages or online databases, or you can research them through the company running the fund.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
A CUSIP number can be found using various online brokerage firms or market databases. This information will also be available through the company that issued the stock in question.
How CUSIP Numbers Work
CUSIP numbers are unique, nine-character identifiers for securities, whether they are stocks, funds or bonds. They are somewhat like the ISBN numbers that you find on the back of books. The name comes from the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures, which developed the concept to make sure that organizations were on the same page when talking about particular securities, and the numbers are now issued by an industry body called CUSIP Global Services.
Lots of securities have identifiers beyond the CUSIP number. For instance, stocks and exchange-traded funds have ticker symbols that are often more widely used on brokerage websites and in the financial press. You can certainly make investments without using a CUSIP number at all, and they're not always the most convenient tool to use to research securities, particularly in cases like the stock market where ticker symbols are in more extensive use. However, you can still often use a CUSIP number to buy and sell securities or to look up quotes online.
How to Find a CUSIP
Some brokerages will enable you to search for a CUSIP through their websites or mobile apps, even if you don't do business with them. You can usually type in the name of a fund, stock or other security or use another identifier like a ticker symbol.
You can also look up CUSIP numbers in various commercial databases, including some run by CUSIP Global Services itself. You may have to pay for access to these databases or work with an organization that has already paid for access in order to search them.
Another option is to talk to whoever runs the fund, or you can talk to a brokerage or other investment firm that enables you to invest in particular funds. You can also simply visit the firm's website. Often, they will list information about the funds they manage or those with which they otherwise work, including the fund names and CUSIP numbers.
Often, CUSIP number information will be available in or alongside formal reports on a fund's aims and performance that you may want to review anyway when making investment decisions, such as fund prospectuses.
- Find the ticker symbol for your target fund by searching on the fund company's website, Fidelity.com, or another financial research website. These are provided without a subscription or log in.
- Not all fund companies provide easy access to CUSIP information. You might need to go to a fund summary page or even look inside a prospectus, which are usually available online or as a PDF download.
- CUSIPs from other sources might require a log-in or a subscription. Most individual investors don't need access to the rest of the information which the CUSIP registration aggregates, making the free sources a good alternative.
Steven Melendez is an independent journalist with a background in technology and business. He has written for a variety of business publications including Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Innovation Leader and Ad Age. He was awarded the Knight Foundation scholarship to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.