About UNSPSC

Attention: The Government Procurement provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) continue to apply until the recently announced United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is ratified and enters into force. More information about the USMCA will be provided in the coming weeks.

By 2019, the UNSPSC will replace the Government of Canada’s current system of commodity classification: the Goods and Services Identification Numbers (GSIN).

Data Standard on Classification of Procurement Items

As part of Treasury Board’s Data Standard on Classification of Procurement Items, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) is implementing an international classification system for procurement items called the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC).

Adopting UNSPSC allows for consistent recording, aggregation and reporting of procurement information within departmental financial and materiel management systems. It helps departments manage the purchase of goods and services and meet reporting obligations established through policy and trade agreements. Furthermore, it aids in the data comparison to other jurisdictions using UNSPSC.

Learn more about Treasury Board’s Data Standard on Classification of Procurement Items.

United Nations Standard Products and Services Code

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is an open and international classification of products and services. It is composed of a five-level hierarchical classification code set, and is owned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and managed by a third-party GS1 US.

The classification system is broken hierarchically into four mandatory levels of Segment, Family, Class, and Commodity, each level comprised of an eight digit code. The fifth level, Business Function, is an optional level. It is made up of a two-digit suffix for the business function performed by an organization in support of the commodity. For more information visit the UNSPSC website.

UNSPSC implementation

As part of adopting UNSPSC government wide, PWGSC will:

  • Make publicly available the Government of Canada’s authoritative version of UNSPSC with descriptions (currently version 10.5) in English and in French. Since PWGSC is the Government of Canada’s official registered member for UNSPSC, membership registration is not required from other departments and agencies. As part of the agreement with the provider of GS1 US, PWGSC is able to publicly share UNSPSC as open data.
  • Release timely updates on implementation.
  • Provide interpretative advice for the list of UNSPSC codes.
  • Develop, share and maintain a concordance table between UNSPSC codes and GSIN codes.