The Classification of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS; French: Nomenclature des unités territoriales statistiques) is a geocode standard for referencing the subdivisions of countries for statistical purposes. The standard is developed and regulated by the European Union, and thus only covers the member states of the EU in detail. The Classification of Territorial Units for Statistics is instrumental in the European Union's Structural Fund delivery mechanisms and for locating the area where goods and services subject to European public procurement legislation are to be delivered.
For each EU member country, a hierarchy of three NUTS levels is established by Eurostat in agreement with each member state; the subdivisions in some levels do not necessarily correspond to administrative divisions within the country. A NUTS code begins with a two-letter code referencing the country, which is identical to the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code (except UK instead of GB for the United Kingdom and EL instead of GR for Greece). The subdivision of the country is then referred to with one number. A second or third subdivision level is referred to with another number each. Each numbering starts with 1, as 0 is used for the upper level. Where the subdivision has more than nine entities, capital letters are used to continue the numbering. A similar statistical system is defined for the candidate countries and members of the European Free Trade Association, but they are not technically part of NUTS governed by the regulations.
The current NUTS classification, valid from 1 January 2015, lists 98 regions at NUTS 1, 276 regions at NUTS 2 and 1342 regions at NUTS 3 level.
Commission Regulation 2016/2066, dated 21 November 2016, provides for a further amendment following territorial reorganisations in several member states, which will become effective for submission of statistical data to the European Commission from 1 January 2018.
There are three levels of NUTS defined, with two levels of local administrative units (LAUs) below. These were called NUTS levels 4 and 5 until July 2003, but were officially abolished by regulation, although they are sometimes still described as such. Note that not all countries have every level of division, depending on their size. One of the most extreme cases is Luxembourg, which has only LAUs; the three NUTS divisions each correspond to the entire country itself.
NUTS regions are generally based on existing national administrative subdivisions. In countries where only one or two regional subdivisions exist, or where the size of existing subdivisions is too small or too large, a second and/or third level is created. This may be on the first level (ex. France, Italy, Greece, and Spain), on the second (ex. Germany) and/or third level (ex. Belgium). In smaller countries, where the entire country would be placed on the NUTS 2 or even NUTS 3 level (ex. Luxembourg, Cyprus), the regions at levels 1, 2 and 3 are identical to each other (and also to the entire country), but are coded with the appropriate length codes levels 1, 2 and 3.
The NUTS system favors existing administrative units, with one or more assigned to each NUTS level.
From the NUTS Regulation, the average population size of the regions in the respective level shall lie within the following thresholds:
For non-administrative units, deviations exist for particular geographical, socio-economic, historical, cultural or environmental circumstances, especially for islands and outermost regions.