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what are nsn numbers

What is a NSN number?

NSN stands for "National Stock Number". It is an official, standardized number applied to a specific item that goes through the federal supply system repeatedly. These numbers are crucial to military logistics supply chains. They are used to standardize and streamline product identification and inventory management. NSNs eliminate confusion concerning which items are in stock and which items are suitable replacements for products no longer on hand. They also save time by providing quick and easy information that can be used when ordering supplies, maintaining budgets, and performing the general maintenance of billions of dollars of inventory.

The NSN is a 13 digit code, unique to the item it identifies. Each set of digits represents an important piece of information about the product. The first four digits represent the item’s supply class. Similar items are grouped together using this part of the code. For example, NSNs for comparable electrical wire and cable parts would all begin with the same four numbers: 6145.

The next two digits indicate the country of origin, or which country requested the NSN assignment. Finally, the last seven digits are unique, specifying the individual product.

Beyond the information found just by looking at the digits of the NSN itself, more data can be found in the Federal Logistics Information System (FLIS). When an item is assigned an NSN number, all known data concerning that product is gathered to be entered into the central database. This includes the item name, manufacturer part number, pricing and shipping information, physical and performance characteristics, shelf life, and even how to dispose of the item once it is no longer needed.

Example NSN Number: 6145-00-003-4169

  • 6145 = Federal Supply Classification Group (FSCG): wire and cable, electrical
  • 00 = Country of origin: USA
  • 003-4169 = Item number: MIL-C-27500-22CB3T10 cable
*The last 9 digits of an NSN number, 00-003-4169 are also referred to as the National Item Identification Number (NIIN)

Who Uses NSNs?

The U.S. government, federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, countries belonging to NATO, and other governments around the world all recognize NSNs. One of these groups must establish the need for a number before Defense Logistics Information Services (DLIS) begins to catalog information and eventually assign a unique NSN.

Is the NSN Only Used by NATO Countries?

Although the NSN code is used primarily by countries in NATO, the NSN is also used by many countries that are not a part of NATO. For example, non-NATO member countries such as Japan, Australia, and New Zealand all rely on the NSN code when ordering standardized material items.

Are there any Different Names for the NSN?

Although still a part of the NSN system, some NATO member countries refer to the NSN under a different name. In the United Kingdom, the NSN code is referred to as the "Domestic Management Code" (DMC). Some other examples are Spanish-speaking countries referring to the NSN as the "Número Nacional de Efecto" (National Item Number (NNE)) and France using the "Numéro de Nomenclature OTAN" (NATO Identification Number (NNO)).

How Can I Acquire a National Stock Number?

The National Stock Number or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Stock Number (NSN) assignment is exclusive to government agencies as a government-to-government function. A NSN number may only be assigned by a National Codification Bureau (NCB) within the participating member country. For example, if a company within the United States had a contract to sell material to the French Air Force, the United States Company would work with the French Air Force and French National Codification Bureau to catalogue the material being sold. Meanwhile, the French NCB would also coordinate with the US NCB for assignment of the NSNs.

As you can see, NSNs play an important role in supply management for both the government and the military. Through the NSN system, the DLIS is able to simplify an otherwise complicated inventory management process into a much more manageable task. At Allied Wire and Cable, we can quote by NSN number and have a large stock of NSN materials in our extensive inventory of wire and cable products. Request a quote now.