The securities industry, under the auspices of the American Banker's Association and the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures, uses a nine character identifier to track all securities, including municipal bonds. A municipal bond's CUSIP identifier and accompanying bond information are stored in a database that is managed for the American Banker's Association by Standard and Poor's. If you have access to the CUSIP database, you have access to municipal bond information. However, finding access to the database may depend upon where you are when you want to access the information.
1. Obtain access to CUSIP's online search portal through your company's CUSIP access. Company's issuing or working with securities such as banks, insurance companies and broker-dealers pay for a license to access data directly from the CUSIP database. Businesses usually restrict access to their networks and computer systems to employees or authorized persons.
2. Obtain access to CUSIP through a third-party provider. Third party providers enter into a licensing agreement with CUSIP Global Services in order to provide search services to investors. Many third party providers require users to sign-up for a subscription to access the CUSIP data. Others may simply ask the user to sign-up for a free user account before searching for municipal bond information.
3. Obtain access through a university library system. Although access may be limited to students, faculty and administrators at the school, alumni sometimes have access too. For instance, the Harvard Business School's Baker Library offers CUSIP access through the Bloomberg Center. Some universities offer a fee based library card to researchers or locals that may also include access to the CUSIP database.
4. Call your local public library and ask about CUSIP access. Some city and county libraries may have the funds to purchase a CUSIP access license.
Searching for Information
1. Search the database using the CUSIP number to locate the exact municipal bond information. The CUSIP number is tied to a specific bond and will return information on that bond only.
2. Use the name of the municipality issuing the bond. The CUSIP number is not necessary to locate municipal bond information. Identify the state in the search criteria and choose the municipalities you are interested in from the returned results.
3. Search by bond rating. CUSIP returns ratings data for municipal bonds from Moody's and Standard and Poor's.