1. Introduction

Country is an important variable for determining a range of social and economic statistics including country of birth, country of residence, migration, international trade and balance of payments.

The National Statistics Country Classification, including the definition and coding index, is designed to be the standard harmonised framework used by National Statistics' users and producers involved in the collection and processing of country-related statistical data. Within the classification are output groupings to standardise common outputs, but it is recognised that not every output can be catered for.

The National Statistics Country Classification will not supersede or replace the country classifications used in international reporting requirements. Business areas using international or European country classifications to meet international reporting requirements are not expected to adopt the classification.

Back to table of contents

2. National Statistics (NS) country definition

For the purposes of the NS Country Classification, a country is the name, either short or official, of a current country, dependency or other geographic area of interest. This includes:

  • internationally recognised states of the United Nations and/or Her Majesty's Government

  • administrative subdivisions, particularly the nations of the United Kingdom: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

  • selected overseas dependencies, territories and administrative sub-regions of such states, with varying degrees of self-government, and which are generally geographically distinct from the country to which they are related and

  • other recognised geographic areas of interest

The term “country” covers all the categories included in the country classification, even though some categories refer to entities that are not independent states.

Disclaimer:

The identification of country categories in the National Statistics Country Classification is designed to form the standard harmonised framework for the collection, processing and outputs of country-related data for statistical and analytical purposes only. It is not intended to be regarded as an authority on the formal recognition, geographic boundary, spelling or nomenclature of any country or geographical area included in the classification.

Back to table of contents

3. Classification structure

The National Statistics Country Classification is a flat classification. Country categories and codes are based on the International Standard Organisation “Codes for the Representation of Names of Countries and their Subdivisions” (ISO 3166). Some country category titles differ from ISO 3166 to reflect current British-English language usage documented by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Supplementary categories are available for the coding of specific types of residual responses, including:

  • categories for former countries that have recently disaggregated into two or more countries and in which there is still statistical and analytical interest

  • codes for a range of "not otherwise specified" categories for the coding of insufficiently detailed country data and

  • categories for the coding of cases where there is no country-related entity to classify, such as “in the air”’

Component categories provide further detail for the breakdown of Cyprus, Spain, the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands. These countries all have more detailed classification categories in the National Statistics Country Classification to meet user requirements, see Table 2.

England and Wales publication code

Users of the classification have requested and approved the addition of an England and Wales publication only code. This code is not part of the classification and is not to be used to code England and/or Wales, it is only to be used as a label for outputs where required.

Users must still code England to XF-XFE-921 and Wales to XI-XIW-924, and only once aggregated together for output is the publication code for England and Wales used.

Back to table of contents

4. Using the NSCC coding index

Information provided in statistical and administrative collections will often not use exactly the same terminology as that used in the category titles of the National Statistics Country Classification. A coding index takes this into account, by assigning all responses to the appropriate classification category. Coding to the National Statistics Country Classification should therefore be done through the associated coding index.

The coding index is ordered by classification category title. Index entries are listed in natural word order, except where "the" forms part of a country name, for example, "the Gambia", where the index entry is listed under the main part of the country name, for example, "Gambia, The".

Where a response exactly matches an entry in the coding index, it should be assigned the category code allocated to that index entry. Where the information provided does not exactly match an entry in the coding index, the following guidelines should be applied to code the response:

Former country

Where a former country name is given, and the country it relates to has not changed its geographic boundary as well, code to the latest name in the classification. For example, code "Persia" to "Iran".

Where a former country name is given, and the country it relates to no longer exists but is wholly contained within the geographic boundary of a current country, code to the current country. For example, code "East Germany" to "Germany".

Where a former country name is given, and the country it relates to no longer exists and is not wholly contained within the geographic boundary of a current country, code to the appropriate additional category. For example, code "Czechoslovakia" to "Czechoslovakia Not Otherwise Specified".

Different spellings, foreign languages, grammar

Where different spellings for a country are provided, including misspellings, alternative spellings or foreign language names, code to that country. For example, code "Espana" to "Spain". If abbreviations, acronyms, slang or colloquial country names are given, code to that country. For example, code "NZ" to "New Zealand", code "Aussie" to "Australia".

Additional information provided

If additional information is provided in addition to the entry for that country in the coding index, code to that country. For example, code "Northern France" to "France", code "Kingdom of Morocco" to "Morocco". (Note: this guideline applies only where the additional information is not part of the country name itself. For example, code "Northern Ireland" to "Northern Ireland", "South Africa" to "South Africa".)

Sub-country information

Where sub-country information is provided, such as a town, city, place, region, state or province, and lies wholly within a country, and which is part of that country, code to that country. For example, code "New York" to "United States".

Multiple responses

When multiple responses (tick-boxes and/or written text) are provided for which only one response is required, business area rules should determine how the responses should be coded and these should be available in the associated metadata.

Back to table of contents

5. Country specific coding guidelines

Data should ideally be coded and captured at the most detailed categories of the National Statistics Country Classification. However, where this is not possible, the following guidelines should be used for classifying data to these country categories. It should be made clear in accompanying metadata how data has been classified.

United Kingdom

In addition to the International Standard Organisation (ISO) 3166 category of United Kingdom, NSCC contains categories for the four nations of the United Kingdom – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – a category for Great Britain Not Otherwise Specified and one for United Kingdom Not Otherwise Specified.

When coding the data for the United Kingdom and its component nations, code data at the most detailed level to the following categories: XF-XFE-921 England, XG-XGN- 922 Northern Ireland, XH-XHS- 923 Scotland, and XI-XIW-924 Wales. If a response of “Great Britain” is received, code to XJ-XJG-925 Great Britain Not Otherwise Specified. Any vague responses, for example where United Kingdom is stated or a place name that cannot be identified as coming from a specific country, are coded to XK-XKU-926 United Kingdom Not Otherwise Specified. Table 4 illustrates how, when coded at the most detailed level, outputs can be aggregated to fit the requirements of the user.

Spain

In addition to the ISO 3166 category of Spain, the National Statistics Country Classification contains categories that allow for the Canary Islands to be both classified with, and separately to Spain, and a category of Spain Not Otherwise Specified.

When coding the data for Spain and the Canary Islands, code data at the most detailed level to the following categories: XD-XDE-911 Spain (except Canary Islands) and IC-QMC-912 Canary Islands, with vague response coded to XE-XEN-913 Spain Not Otherwise Specified.

Cyprus

In addition to the ISO 3166 category of Cyprus, two categories are included that distinguish between the part of Cyprus within the European Union and that part not included in the European Union, plus one other category for Cyprus Not Otherwise Specified.

When coding the data for Cyprus, code data at the most detailed level to the following categories: XA-XAE-901 Cyprus (European Union) and XB-XBN-902 Cyprus (non- European Union). Where a vague response is given and the region of Cyprus cannot be identified, code to XC-XCN-903 Cyprus Not Otherwise Specified. Table 6 illustrates how, when coded at the most detailed level, outputs can be aggregated to fit the requirements of the user.

The Channel Islands

The National Statistics Country Classification allows for the disaggregating of the Channel Islands into Guernsey and Jersey using reserved code elements from ISO 3166 and also the user assigned codes that ISO permits use of.

When coding the data for the Channel Islands, code data at the most detailed level to the following categories: GG-GGY-831 Guernsey and JE-JEY-832Jersey. Where a vague response is given, code to XL-XLC-931 Channel Islands Not Otherwise Specified.

Table 7 illustrates how, when coded at the most detailed level outputs can be aggregated to fit the requirements of the user.

Ireland

The use of "Ireland" as a classification category title reflects that country's own formal title. However, it may be appropriate to describe this country in some cases as the "Republic of Ireland" to clarify the distinction between the country of "Ireland" and the island of "Ireland", particularly when comparison is made with "Northern Ireland".

Taiwan

Her Majesty's Government has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It acknowledges the position of the People's Republic of China that Taiwan is a province of China.

Ceuta and Melilla

Ceuta and Melilla are Spanish Exclaves in North Africa and so clarification of their classification is required. There has been no demand from the stakeholders consulted in the development of this National Statistics Country Classification to be able to identify these separately from Spain, and so these responses should be coded to Spain (Except Canary Islands).

Metropolitan France

Metropolitan France refers to the part of France in Europe, as opposed to the French Republic which consists of Metropolitan France and five overseas Départments (Guadeloupe, Réunion, French Guyana, Mayotte and Martinique). The codes for France (FR-FRA-250) are to be used to identify the part of France in Europe. A total for the French Republic can be obtained by combining results for France and the overseas Départments.

Serbia and Montenegro

As Montenegro has declared independence from Serbia, new codes and categories have been added to the classification for Serbia, Montenegro and Serbia and Montenegro Not Otherwise Specified. These codes are to be used in the same way as the codes for former countries, such as “Czechoslovakia Not Otherwise Specified".

Kosovo

A new category for Kosovo has been added to the classification in acknowledgement of the UK’s recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation.

Back to table of contents

6. Country groupings

Within the classification are output groupings to standardise common outputs. Although both the geographically-based and other groupings do not form part of the hierarchy of the National Statistics Standard Country Classification, they are part of the harmonised country standard framework. They are intended to supplement outputs where aggregations of countries are required, for example, in the production of statistical country outputs on a regional basis.

Geographically-based groupings

A harmonised three-level hierarchical geographically-based grouping is provided. It uses the country categories as the base-level units and aggregates them based on geographic proximity within broadly-defined continents, which are identified at both the first and second levels of the framework. Other characteristics, including social, cultural, economic and political characteristics, and statistical and analytical usefulness, have also been considered. Supplementary categories for the coding of specific types of responses and where they fit in the grouping are included. To indicate that these categories may not be required in some data collections, their placement in the groupings is indicated in brackets.

Each country base-level unit is included in a region only once, that is, this hierarchical geographically-based grouping is mutually exclusive.

Economically or politically-based groupings

A further list of groupings is provided. These include selected economic and political groupings of importance to National Statistics' data users and producers, such as the European Union.

Country categories may be included in more than one of these groupings, that is, these groupings are not mutually exclusive. For example, the Czech Republic is included in the European Union grouping as well as the grouping for Former Czechoslovakia.

The groupings are:

European Union (EU)
European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
European Economic Area (EEA)
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
Commonwealth of Nations
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
Former countries
United Kingdom overseas territories and crown dependencies

The provision of different grouping frameworks and the hierarchical structure of the geographic grouping is designed to allow flexibility in the grouping of countries for different purposes. Both the geographically-based and economic and political groupings have three- level hierarchical groupings which ensure that users and producers can use the grouping level which suits their purposes, as long as classification hierarchies or boundaries are not crossed.

For example, in the geographically-based grouping, a user may require detail at level three for the classification category of United Kingdom, level two of the classification category for the rest of Europe, but the broadest levels for the other categories in the geographically-based grouping, that is, Africa, The Americas and the Caribbean, Middle East and Asia, and Antarctica and Oceania. However, it would not be appropriate to place a classification category from one part of the geographical grouping into another part of the grouping.

It is recommended that users take the member countries outlined in the economic or political groupings as a base and document their treatment of those members' associated territories in metadata as appropriate for their data collection.

Relationship to other classifications

The National Statistics Country Classification (NSCC) is based on the International Standard Organisation (ISO) 3166 “Codes for the Representation of Names of Countries and their Subdivisions”, adapted to meet the requirements of National Statistics data users. A correspondence between the National Statistics Country Classification and ISO 3166-1 is available.

NSCC is very similar to other country classifications developed by international organisations, including the United Nations' “Standard Country or Area Codes for Statistical Use” and the country classifications developed by Eurostat.

Back to table of contents