How do I find the CUSIP number for a Mortgage Backed Security?

Unfortunately, this can be a little difficult as CUSIP numbers are owned and created by the American Bankers Association and operated by Standard & Poor's. To get access to the whole database of CUSIP numbers, which mainly cover U.S. and Canadian equities along with U.S. government and corporate debt, you will need to pay a fee to Standard & Poor's or a similar service that has access to the database.

However, while gaining access to a CUSIP number has been difficult in the past, there are now a few resources that can be used to access CUSIP numbers. The first is that individual companies will often display their CUSIP numbers to investors on their websites.

But the easiest way to gain access to this is through the active quote search on the Fidelity Investments website. You do not need to be a member or have an account. Simply enter the company you are looking for and the CUSIP will be displayed for you. For example, if you are looking for the CUSIP for Ford Motor Company just enter the name of the company and the CUSIP number will be shown (345370860).

What is a CUSIP number?

I had no idea what a CUSIP number was, so this answer took me a bit of researching, something I enjoy immensely. According to the SEC, a CUSIP (Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures) number "identifies most securities, including: stocks of all registered U.S. and Canadian companies, and U.S. government and municipal bonds. The CUSIP system—owned by the American Bankers Association and operated by Standard & Poor’s—facilitates the clearing and settlement process of securities."

If you're trying to find a CUSIP number, you're looking for a number that identifies a type of security (for more on securities and CUSIP numbers I invite you to read About US Economy and Business).

From my research, I found that one way to access the entire CUSIP database actually takes a subscription to Standard & Poor's or a similar service that has access to the CUSIP database. However, I did find that there are a few ways around this.

CUSIP stands for Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures. Formed in 1962, this committee developed a system (implemented in 1967) that identifies securities, specifically U.S. and Canadian registered stocks, and U.S. government and municipal bonds.

The CUSIP number consists of a combination of nine characters, both letters and numbers, which act as a sort of DNA for the security - uniquely identifying the company or issuer and the type of security. The first six characters identify the issuer and are assigned in an alphabetical fashion; the seventh and eighth characters (which can be alphabetical or numerical) identify the type of issue; and the last digit is used as a check digit.

The CUSIP Service Bureau is operated by Standard & Poor's on behalf of the American Bankers Association (ABA). When setting out to develop the CUSIP system of identification, the ABA basically had two main criteria it was trying to meet. First, it wanted the identification to contain the fewest number of characters possible and to be linked to an alphabetical sequence of issuer names. Secondly, it recognized that the system should be adequate given the current operating requirements while having the flexibility to adapt to any future needs or changes in the operating systems. For more information on the CUSIP system, visit Standard & Poor's CUSIP Service Bureau.

How to Search by CUSIP

You can use Fidelity Investment's quick look-up tool to find a CUSIP number, as well as a fund number or trading symbol.

The Bloomberg Center at Harvard Business School has a good basic CUSIP lookup.

Standard and Poor's KennyWebis a stellar resource not only for looking up CUSIP numbers, but financial information of all kinds. Sallie Mae offers a simple CUSIP search.

How do I get a CUSIP number assigned to a security?

Information about requesting a CUSIP for a new issue can be obtained from the CUSIP Service Bureau. You may also refer to Part Four, Section 1(f) of the Purposes and Procedures Manual of the NAIC Securities Valuation Office for instructions on how to obtain a CUSIP number.

How to Find a Bond CUSIP

CUSIP stands for Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures. Every stock or bond has its own CUSIP number, which helps identify the specific security. According to the American Bankers Association, there are over 8.4 million CUSIPs in use. There are two ways to get the CUSIP: one requires a fee and the other doesn't. Both methods are reliable.

Other Options

1. Pay a fee to the American Bankers Association to access their database of CUSIP numbers. The website is referred to as CUSIP Global Services (CGS). The fee varies according to the number of users, the type of investment product (bond, stocks, mortgage-backed security), the amount of detail you need, and the time you need access to the database. See Resources for contact information to request a quote on a subscription.

2. Go to the Fidelity Investments website. You do not need to be a client of Fidelity in order to look up the CUSIP.

3. Enter the name of the company and the CUSIP will show up. The best way to search is by ticker symbol. For instance, the CUSIP for Cheescake Factory (NYSE : CAKE) is: 163072101.

4. If you cannot find your Mortgage Loan CUSIP number contact me. I will help you get the CUSIP number for your securitized mortgage note for a small fee.

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