Key Identification Numbers
Keys are typically printed with an alphanumeric code called a key identification number, a key code or a key number that allows locksmiths and companies to replicate keys without the need to install a whole new lock system. Key codes fall into two categories: blind codes and bitting codes. Blind codes are the most common form of key codes and are designed to enhance security by requiring a code book or software - typically only licensed to locksmiths or security professionals - to decode. Bitting codes are defined as the decoded blind code that a locksmith may use to replicate the key.
How to Read A Key Number
Lock codes are alphanumeric, so they typically contain both letters and numbers. Examples are 110A, SL400, etc. You typically will not be able to decode the number on your own unless you're a licensed locksmith or security professional with access to specific databases that allow you to match up the code with the specific key and its manufacturer. Your local locksmith or key replication company will have the tools required to determine exactly which key to manufacture based on the code.
How to Find Your Key Code
Your key code is typically stamped on the face of the lock or key, but some manufacturers print them on a "key code card" with the printed cutting number. Cheap, low-quality and mass-produced locks often do not come with key codes. In that case, you'll have to replace your entire lock system if you do not have a corresponding key. If you do see the key number on the face of your lock or on your key code card, dictate the number to your locksmith or security professional and they should have the proper tools and software to encode it and replicate the key successfully.