Core Business Vocabulary

Working Draft
Published at
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The Core Business Vocabulary provides a minimum set of classes and properties for legal entities, that is, trading bodies that are formally registered with the relevant authority and that appear in business registers. This excludes sole traders, virtual organisations and other types of 'agents' that are able to do business.

Status of this document

This Core Vocabulary has the status of Working Draft published on 2021-04-01.




This document describes the usage of the following entities for a correct usage of the Core Vocabulary:
| Address | Concept | Formal Organization | Identifier | Legal Entity | Resource |



A spatial object that in a human-readable way identifies a fixed location of a property.

An "address representation" as conceptually defined by the INSPIRE Address Representation data type: "Representation of an address spatial object for use in external application schemas that need to include the basic, address information in a readable way.".

The representation of Addresses varies widely from one country's postal system to another. Even within countries, there are almost always examples of Addresses that do not conform to the stated national standard. At the time of publication, work is progressing on ISO 19160-1 that defines a method through which different Addresses can be converted from one conceptual model to another.

This specification was heavily based on the INSPIRE Address Representation data type. It is noteworthy that if an Address is provided using the detailed breakdown suggested by the properties for this class, then it will be INSPIRE-conformant. To this very granular set of properties, we add two further properties:

  • - full address (the complete address as a formatted string)
  • - addressID (a unique identifier for the address)
The first of these allows publishers to simply provide the complete Address as one string, with or without formatting. This is analogous to vCard's label property.

The addressID is part of the INSPIRE guidelines and provides a hook that can be used to link the Address to an alternative representation, such as vCard or OASIS xAL.

For this entity the following properties are defined: address area, address ID, administrative unit level 1 (country), administrative unit level 2 (country/region/state), full address, locator designator, locator name, post code, post name (city), post office box, thoroughfare.
Property Expected Range Description Usage Codelist
address area Text The name or names of a geographic area or locality that groups a number of addressable objects for addressing purposes, without being an administrative unit. This would typically be part of a city, a neighbourhood or village, e.g. Montmartre.
address ID String A globally unique identifier for each instance of an Address.

The concept of adding a globally unique identifier for each instance of an address is a crucial part of the INSPIRE data spec. A number of EU countries have already implemented an ID (a UUID) in their Address Register/gazetteer, among them Denmark. OASIS xAL also includes an address identifier. It is the address Identifier that allows an address to be represented in a format other than INSPIRE whilst remaining conformant to the Core Vocabulary.

The INSPIRE method of representing addresses is very detailed, designed primarily for use in databases of addresses. Whilst data that is published in full conformance with the INSPIRE data structure can be made available using the Location Core Vocabulary the reverse is not true since the Core Vocabulary allows much greater flexibility.

Many datasets that include address data as one piece of information about something else are likely to have that data in simpler formats. These might be tailored to the specific need of the dataset, follow a national norm, or make use of a standard like vCard.

To provide maximum flexibility in the Core Vocabulary, whilst remaining interoperable with INSPIRE Address Guidelines (which EU Member States are obliged to use), the Location Core Vocabulary provides the extra property of full address and makes use of INSPIRE's addressID.

administrative unit level 1 (country) The name or names of a unit of administration where a Member State has and/or exercises jurisdictional rights, for local, regional and national governance. Level 1 refers to the uppermost administrative unit for the address, almost always a country. Best practice is to use the ISO 3166-1 code but if this is inappropriate for the context, country names should be provided in a consistent manner to reduce ambiguity. For example, either write 'France' or 'FRA' consistently throughout the dataset and avoid mixing the two. The Country controlled vocabulary from the Publications Office can be reused for this.
administrative unit level 2 (country/region/state) Text The name or names of a unit of administration where a Member State has and/or exercises jurisdictional rights, for local, regional and national governance. Level 2 referst to the region of the address, usually a county, state or other such area that typically encompasses several localities. Some recommended codelists from the EU Publications Office include: Administrative Territorial Units (ATU), NUTS and Local Administrative Units (LAU). The first arrondissement of Paris is for example expressed as "" in the ATU controlled vocabulary.
full address Text The complete address written as a formatted string. Use of this property is recommended as it will not suffer any misunderstandings that might arise through the breaking up of an address into its component parts. This property is analogous to vCard's label property but with two important differences: (1) formatting is not assumed so that, unlike vCard label, it may not be suitable to print this on an address label, (2) vCard's label property has a domain of vCard Address; the fullAddress property has no such restriction. An example of a full address is "Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France".
locator designator String A number or a sequence of characters which allows a user or an application to interpret, parse and format the locator within the relevant scope. A locator may include more locator designators. In simpler terms, this is the building number, apartment number, etc. For an address such as "Flat 3, 17 Bridge Street", the locator is "flat 3, 17".
locator name Text Proper noun(s) applied to the real world entity identified by the locator.

The locator name could be the name of the property or complex, of the building or part of the building, or it could be the name of a room inside a building.

The key difference between a locator and a locator name is that the latter is a proper name and is unlikely to include digits. For example, "Shumann, Berlaymont" is a meeting room within the European Commission headquarters for which locator name is more appropriate than locator.

post code String The post/zip code of an address. (INSPIRE's definition is "A code created and maintained for postal purposes to identify a subdivision of addresses and postal delivery points.") Post codes are common elements in many countries' postal address systems. One of the many post codes of Paris is for example "75000".
post name (city) Text The key postal division of the address, usually the city. (INSPIRE's definition is "One or more names created and maintained for postal purposes to identify a subdivision of addresses and postal delivery points.) For example, "Paris".
post office box String The Post Office Box number. INSPIRE's name for this is "postalDeliveryIdentifier" for which it uses the locator designator property with a type attribute of that name. This vocabulary separates out the Post Office Box for greater independence of technology. An example post office box number is "9383".
thoroughfare Text An address component that represents the name or names of a passage or way through from one location to another. A thoroughfare is not necessarily a road, it might be a waterway or some other feature. For example, "Avenue des Champs-Élysées".


This class represents any Concept that can be used for classifying the Legal Entity.
This class relates to the Legal Entity through the properties company activity, company status and company type. Additional properties can be added to complement the need for adding other ways of classifying the Legal Entity, which have not been explicitly defined in the Core Vocabulary.
No properties have been defined for this entity.

Formal Organization

An Organization which is recognized in the world at large, in particular in legal jurisdictions, with associated rights and responsibilities.
Examples include a corporation, charity, government or church.
Subclass of
No properties have been defined for this entity.


The Identifier class represents any identifier issued by any authority, whether a government agency or not. It captures the identifier itself, the type of identifier, and details of the issuing authority, the date on which the identifier was issued.
The Identifier class is based on the UN/CEFACT class of the same name and is defined under the ADMS namespace.
For this entity the following properties are defined: date of issue, identifier, identifies, issuing authority, issuing authority URI.
Property Expected Range Description Usage Codelist
date of issue DateTime The date on which the Identifier was assigned.
identifier Literal The value of this property is the Identifier itself. Example: "abc-12345-de"^^<>.
identifies Legal Entity The identifies relationship links an Identifier class to the resource it identifies.
issuing authority Literal The name of the agency responsible for issuing the Identifier. Example: "Federal Public Service Interior"@en.
issuing authority URI URI The URI of the issuing authority. Example: "".
A Legal Entity able to transact business, typically registered with a body able to confer legal status such as a national business register.
A Legal Entity is able to trade, is legally liable for its actions, accounts, tax affairs etc. This makes Legal Entities distinct from the concept of organisations, groups or sole traders. Many organisations exist that are not Legal Entities, yet to the outside world they have staff, hierarchies, locations etc. Other organisations exist that are an umbrella for several Legal Entities (universities are often good examples of this). This vocabulary is concerned solely with registered Legal Entities and does not attempt to cover all possible trading bodies.
Subclass of
Formal Organization
For this entity the following properties are defined: alternative name, company activity, company status, company type, identifier, legal identifier, legal name, registered address.
Property Expected Range Description Usage Codelist
alternative name Text Some jurisdictions recognise concepts such as a trading name or alternative forms of a legal entity's name. The alternative name property can be used to record such names but should not be used to record translations of the primary legal name. Where more than one legal name exists and where they have equal standing but are expressed in different languages, identify the language used in each of the multiple legal names.
company activity Concept This property records the activity of the company. The activity of a company should be recorded using a controlled vocabulary. Several such vocabularies exist, many of which map to the UN's ISIC codes. Where a particular controlled vocabulary is in use within a given context, such as SIC codes in the UK, it is acceptable to use these, however, the preferred choice for European interoperability is NACE.
company status Concept This property records the status of the company. Recording the status of a company presents the same issues as its type. The terms 'insolvent', 'bankrupt' and 'in receivership,' for example, are likely to mean slightly different things with different legal implications in different jurisdictions. Best practice for recording various other status levels is to use the relevant jurisdiction's terms and to identify the controlled vocabulary used.
company type Concept This property records the type of company. Familiar types are SA, PLC, LLC, GmbH etc. At the time of publication, there is no agreed set of company types that crosses borders. The term 'SA' is used in Poland and France for example although they mean slightly different things. The UK's LLP and Greece's EPE provide another example of close, but not exact, matches. That said, each jurisdiction will have a limited set of recognised company types and these should be used in a consistent manner.
identifier Identifier The identifier relation links a Resource to any formally issued Identifier for that Resource other than the one that confers legal status upon it. Legal Entities, people, organisations and other Agents may have any number of identifiers (but only one legal identifier). For example, in many jurisdictions, a business will have one or more tax numbers associated with them which do not, by themselves, confer legal entity status. An individual may be issued with identifiers for everything from social security to club membership. The identifier relationship must not be used to link to the identifier issued by the authority that conferred legal entity status on a business.
legal identifier Identifier The legal status of a business is conferred on it by an authority within a given jurisdiction. The legal identifier is therefore a fundamental relationship between a Legal Entity and the authority with which it is registered. The details of the registration are provided as properties of the Identifier class. The Core vocabulary sets no restriction on the type of legal identifier. In many countries, the business register's identifier is the relevant data point.
legal name Text The legal name of the business. A business might have more than one legal name, particularly in countries with more than one official language. In such cases, and where the encoding technology allows, the language of the string should be identified.
registered address Address In almost all jurisdictions, Legal Entities must register a public address. This may or may not be the actual address at which the Legal Entity does its business, it is commonly the address of their lawyer or accountant, but it is the address to which formal communications can be sent. The registered address property points to the Address of the Registered Site. This property can be seen as a shorthand for this property path.


The class resource, everything.
For this entity the following properties are defined: legal entity.
Property Expected Range Description Usage Codelist
legal entity Legal Entity The legal entity relationship can be used to link any resource to a Legal Entity class. This is useful, for example, where an organisation includes one or more legal entities. The Dublin Core term isPartOf is a suitable inverse of this relationship.

Changelog w.r.t. previous version


A changelog describing the (major) changes to the previous version (1.0.0) of the Core Business Vocabulary and the new version that is being proposed in this specification (2.0.0), can be found here.

JSON-LD context


A reusable JSON-LD context definition for this Core Vocabulary is retrievable at: /context/core_business.jsonld