3. Common Rules and Data Standards:

3.2. The NATO Stock Number

Countries that participate in the NCS follow common standards and techniques to assign NSNs to items of supply in their defense inventory. The National Codification Bureau (NCB) within each country centrally assigns their national NSNs. The assignment of an NSN fixes the identity of each distinctive item of supply. All NSNs are uniform in composition, length, and structure. Each is represented by a 13- digit number, which can be divided into 3 unique parts:

  • the first four digits are the NATO Supply Classification (NSC) code, which relates the item to the group and class of similar items

  • the next two digits indicate the assigning NCB code (each country has its own two-digit NCB code-the United States uses "00" and "01")

  • the final seven digits are assigned sequentially and have no inherent significance. However, this number relates to one and only one item of supply within the codifying country.

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Within NATO, the NCS currently contains 16 million active NSNs (about 7 million U.S. and about 9 million assigned by other NATO countries). The items represented range from hand grenades to guided missiles, from propeller blades to space vehicles, and from soap dishes to washing machines.