NATO Codification System


The NATO Codification System

The NATO Codification System (NCS) is the mechanism under which equipment components and parts of the military supply systems are uniformly named, described, classified, and assigned a standardised NATO Stock Number. These stock numbers and item descriptions are published in supply catalogues and repair parts lists, and are used as the key identifiers within logistic information systems. The NCS is a common supply language which operates effectively in a multilingual environment. It facilitates interoperability, curbs duplication (both within nations and between nations), permits interchangeability, and maximises logistics support in the most economical manner possible.

The New Zealand National Codification Bureau (NCB) codifies the Items of Supply produced by New Zealand, regardless of which nation is the end user. NCBs, as the central operating points for the NATO Codification System, play an essential role in the logistics operations. The information, services and products provided by the NCBs are used in every facet of logistics operations.

Principle aims of the NATO Codification System

The principle aims of the NCS are:

  • The establishment of a common logistics system to ensure that each unique Item of Supply available to all users  - military and civilian – of the NCS, is correctly characterised and assigned a standardised NATO Stock Number.
  • To avoid duplication by maintaining a database of descriptive information with respect to each Item of Supply. Before new NATO Stock Numbers are assigned, details of all proposed new Items of Supply are screened against the codification database to identify which items have already been given NATO Stock Numbers and therefore are already in the Defence inventory.
  • To ensure all Items of Supply are uniquely identified by an NSN, as the use of the manufacturer’s part number alone cannot guarantee uniqueness.

The NCS names, classifies, identifies, describes and assigns numbers to Items of Supply for use by participating nations and agencies.

In Summary:

The NCS operates within the following parameters:

  • Interoperability – with all nations and agencies operating the system.
  • Standardisation - use of set procedures allows language barriers to be broken down.
  • Discipline - the operation of the NCS is clearly defined and understood by all the user nations.
  • Uniqueness – the NCS is the principle system in use within the NZDF which guarantees an item’s uniqueness.

NCS Member countries manage the data related to

  • 17,000,000 Items of Supply
  • 34,000,000 Part Numbers
  • >2,000,000 manufacturers and vendors (NCAGE and contact details)

The benefits of a single, uniform system are recognised across the world by Logistics users within 65 countries. This system has established a single supply language, provides accurate information on the identity and characteristics of an item of supply and avoids duplicates. It is a flexible system with growth and upgrade capacity to facilitate improved support to logisticians.

This page was last reviewed on 20 February 2015.