If you plan to sell products or services to the Government of Canada, you’re sure to come across Goods and Services Identification Number codes. The government assigns these codes to different types of products, so it’s easier for you to find related business opportunities. By 2019, however, Canada plans to switch to a different system — the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code. Whether you’re supplying the government now or in the future, it’s helpful to understand this change.
What Is a GSIN Code?
The Canadian government often buys products and services from private businesses. Each type of good or service gets a different GSIN code, which is simply a set of numbers and letters. For example, if you sell strategic or media planning services, your code is T003AD.
When the government needs something specific, it posts it on the Buyandsell.gc.ca website with the associated GSIN code. If you want to find these postings, you can look them up using the correct code for the goods or services you sell. Don’t know what GSIN code applies to your business? The Browse GSIN Codes has a full list.
How Is UNSPSC Different From GSIN Codes?
By 2019, the Canadian government is doing away with GSIN codes and changing to the UNSPSC system. This system, which was developed by the United Nations Development Programme, is simply different classification system. It’s centrally governed, updated regularly, and available in many languages. By switching to this system, the government hopes to create a more modern setup — after all, many GSIN categories are outdated and unused.
How Is the Government Changing From GSIN to UNSPSC?
Originally, the government planned to change coding systems by 2017. That date was pushed back to 2019. To change all of the codes, Canada is using a mapping method. This process takes a GSIN code and finds the matching UNSPSC. Then, it updates all of the references to the GSIN code. Since the Buyandsell.gc.ca is very large, this takes time. As the government finds old GSIN codes that no one uses, it’s removing them from the system. Once the change is complete, you and other government contractors can download all of the UNSPSC data for free on Buyandsell.gc.ca.
Is Your Business Impacted by the Change?
In most cases, you don’t need to worry about the change from GSIN to UNSPSC. The shift happens automatically. However, if you are accustomed to searching for opportunities using a specific GSIN code, you may need to look up the corresponding UNSPSC. As the transition happens, you may see both types of codes on the Buyandsell.gc.ca government resource website. If you’re one of the government suppliers working on a contract when your code changes, you don’t need to do anything — Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) plans to reach out with instructions if any of the changes affect your business.
Most businesses in Canada won’t experience much of a change as the government changes from GSIN to UNSPSC. If you’re planning to start doing business with government agencies, you can stay updated with the regular news releases on the Buyandsell.gc.ca website.