American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

National Provider Identification (NPI) Number

The national provider identification (NPI) number is a 10-digit identification number assigned to health care providers by the federal government. This is the standard identifying number that has replaced the universal provider identification number (UPIN). Most providers had to obtain an NPI by May 23, 2008, or by May 2009 in the case of small providers. The NPI number serves several functions:

  • It identifies providers in health care transactions or related correspondence, which is used for HIPAA transactions.

  • Health plans use it to process transactions and communicate with providers.

  • It is used in electronic patient records systems to identify providers.

Note that the NPI number does not have embedded information that would allow another party to determine your location or phone number.

Key Facts about NPI Numbers

  • Providers need an NPI number for two reasons: it is required by HIPAA and it is required to complete electronic transactions.

  • Only one NPI is needed per provider and it is meant to remain constant throughout your career.

  • This means you only need to apply for an NPI once. If you change practices, change to another specialty, change contracts or move, the number stays the same.

Exceptions

Atypical providers may have more than one NPI. For example:

  • Clinics or group practices need one NPI for each pay-to or mailing address.
  • Home health agencies, hospice and mental health providers would need an NPI for each unique reimbursement or contract methodology.

Obtaining an NPI

You can begin the process of obtaining an NPI online or call 1-800-465-3203 to request that a form be mailed to you.

Additional NPI Resources

For more information on NPI numbers, you can consult the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) frequently asked questions, or call the phone number for your region:

  • North region: 1-877-334-2524
  • South region: 1-800-403-3950, ext. 69550