If you are trying to figure out how to use a NATO Stock Number (aka National Stock Number), don’t worry because it’s quite easy. In about three minutes you’ll have it all figured out.
What Is An NSN?
A NATO Stock Number (sometimes called a National Stock Number) is a 13-digit numeric code. It’s a string of numbers, but not a simply number in and of itself because the numbers are broken down by sections and are normally presented with hyphens between the sections.
How Does An NSN Work?
Let’s deconstruct the NSN for a a screwdriver hex bit: 5120-00-640-6732.
You start off with the NSN:
This is composed of two sub-groups:
- 5120: Federal Supply Classification Group (FSCG), or sometimes the National Supply Classification Group (NSCG)
- 00-640-6732: National Item Identification Number (NIIN)
The first 4 numbers are actually 2 groups of 2, which should form related categories, which closer numbers being similar products. That said the first numbers are generally not very informative because many products deviate from this pattern.
The last 9 numbers, the NIIN, are more helpful. The first two numbers, in this case “00” are a country code, the National Codification Bureau number for a country. The last 7 digits are simply the item number. This string is technically called the “non-significant number” but that phrase is rarely used as it’s quite confusing, and its acronym would also be “NSN,” which adds to the confusion. They are said to be assigned randomly. This string of numbers will never be reused so older items are kept in the database.
NCB numbers are assigned to NATO and NATO partner nations:
|USA||00 and 01|
|Unassigned||02 through 10|
|Canada||20 and 21|
|Republic of Korea||37|
|United Nations-standard items||44|
|Republic of Macedonia||54|
|Papua, New Guinea||65|
|United Arab Emirates||71|