Core Business Vocabulary

Semic Recommendation
Published at
This version


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 Semic Recommendation published on 2022-04-01.


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



A spatial object that in a human-readable way identifies a fixed location.
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. However, ISO 19160-1 provides 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.

This class belongs to Core Location Vocabulary
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 Definition Usage Codelist
address area Text The name of a geographic area that groups Addresses. This would typically be part of a city, a neighbourhood or village, e.g. Montmartre. Address area is not an administrative unit.
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 Core Location 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 Core Location Vocabulary provides the extra property of full address and makes use of INSPIRE's addressID.
administrative unit level 1 (country) Text The name of the uppermost level of 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 of a secondary level/region of the address, usually a county, state or other such area that typically encompasses several localities. Values could be a region or province, more granular than level 1.
full address Text The complete address written as a 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 sequence of characters that uniquely identifies the locator within the relevant scope. 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 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 A name created and maintained for postal purposes to identify a subdivision of addresses and postal delivery points. Usually a city, for example "Paris".
post office box String A location designator for a postal delivery point at a post office, usually a 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 The name of a passage or way through from one location to another. A thoroughfare is usually a street, but it might be a waterway or some other feature. For example, "Avenue des Champs-Élysées".

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.


A structured reference that identifies an entity.
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, identifies, issuing authority name, notation, scheme name, scheme URI.
Property Expected Range Definition Usage Codelist
date of issue Date The date on which the Identifier was assigned.
identifies Legal Entity The entity that is referenced by the Identifier.
issuing authority name Text The name of the agency responsible for issuing the Identifier. Example: "Federal Public Service Interior"@en.
notation Literal A string of characters to uniquely identify a concept. Example: "abc-12345-de"^^
scheme name Text Name of the scheme used to construct the identifier.
scheme URI Text URI of the scheme used to construct the identifier.
A self-empoyed person, company, or organization that has legal rights and obligations.
A Legal Entity able to transact business, typically registered with a body able to confer legal status such as a national business register. It 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, identifier, legal entity activity, legal entity status, legal form type, legal identifier, legal name, registered address.
Property Expected Range Definition Usage Codelist
alternative name Text Any name by which a Legal Entity is known, other than their legal name. 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 name exists and where they have equal standing but are expressed in different languages, identify the language used in each of the multiple names.
identifier Identifier The unambiguous structured reference for the Legal Entity, which is different from the one denoting its legal status. Legal Entities 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 entity activity Code The area of work in which the Legal Entity is engaged. This is a general term that encompasses all the economic activities carried out by a company during the course of business. 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.
legal entity status Code Information about the viability of the current position of the legal entity. 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.
legal form type Code The classification of the Legal Entity as a member of a particular group in the context of legal registration. Familiar types are Public (Limited) Company (PLC), Private (Limited) Company, One Person Company, Limited Liability Company (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.
legal identifier Identifier The unambiguous structured reference assigned to the Legal Entity by the legal authority that registered it. Legal Entity must have a unique identification number, allowing it to be clearly identified in communication across business registers. 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 name under which the Legal Entity is legally registered. The legal name is different from the alternative (trade) name which is a pseudonym used by companies that do not operate under their registered company name. 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 The address at which the Legal Entity is legally registered. 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.

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.

UML representation


The UML representation from which this Core Vocabulary has been build is available here.

RDF representation


A reusable RDF representation (in turtle) for this Core Vocabulary is retrievable here.
This RDF file contains only the terminology for which the URI is minted in the Core Vocabularies domain Terms that are mapped on an existing URI (hence reused from other vocabularies) are not included.

JSON-LD context


A reusable JSON-LD context definition for this Core Vocabulary is retrievable here.

SHACL template


A reusable SHACL template for this Core Vocabulary is retrievable here.