NATO Codification - The Common Language of Logistics

NCS : NATO Codification System

The NATO Codification System (NCS) describes, classifies and names equipment, components and spare parts in a disciplined and common manner.

Each item is allocated a unique, 13-digit NATO Stock Number (NSN)

The NSN is allocated to an item after its characteristics (dimensions, material, form, fit and function) are examined and described. The NSN becomes the primary identifier for the item and is never changed repeated or re-used.

Codification Benefits

Codification integrates Supply Chain operations from the Factory to the Front-Line. 

It improves logistics support to ensure optimum availability of equipment and materiel

Faster, better and cheaper procurement

All NSNs from every country are recorded in the NMCRL, the NATO Master Catalogue of References for Logistics, the largest logistics database in the world. The NMCRL contains details of 3 million suppliers worldwide.

Avoids Duplication of Stock

Codification avoids duplication of stock under different numbers and ensures only the minimum necessary stock is held in inventory and surpluses sent for disposal​


Use of NSN to identify equipment allows mutual support and Interoperability between National and International Forces​

Improves efficiency and effectiveness

The NCS improves the efficiency and effectiveness of all logistic operations, enhances military capability and provides benefits to everyone involved in supply chain operations

Common Supply Language

The NCS provides a Common Supply Language independent of national systems and language

Improves Data Quality

Codification ensures good quality data and provides a master database for reliable, authoritative and up-to-date data