Note: As of April 4, 2022, DUNS numbers have officially transitioned to UEI numbers. Have you heard the term “D-U-N-S number” (aka DUNS number or D&B D-U-N-S Number) and wondered if your business has one or whether or not your company even needs one? Continue reading to learn more about DUNS numbers, including what they are, how to find them, and how to get them. Here is everything you need to know about DUNS numbers.
What Is a DUNS Number?
A DUNS number is a unique, nine-digit identifier for a business. It is created by one of the three major business credit bureaus, Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), which generates a business profile that includes a company’s name, address, phone number, and other relevant corporate information. The Data Universal Numbering System, or DUNS number, was first introduced by D&B in 1962 and is assigned to all types of business organizations, including government entities, non-profits, partnerships, corporations, and sole proprietorships. Since then, it has become the standard numbering system to validate and identify business entities across the globe, with more than 300 million businesses registered worldwide. Much like how your social security number tells a story about you, including your credit score, tax returns, bank account, and residences, your DUNS number and business credit scores tell a similar story about your business. Your PAYDEX credit score, which is D&B's own credit rating system for businesses, is linked to your DUNS number. The PAYDEX score ranges from 0 to 100 and is contingent on suppliers’ reports of your company’s payment history – anything above 75 is considered an excellent score. This information illustrates how likely your business is to pay back debts or loans on time.
What Is a DUNS Number Used For?
DUNS numbers are used by prospective business partners and lenders to assess the financial stability and reliability of a company. A DUNS number can help business owners in many ways, including:
Establish business credit: the credit profile D&B builds on your company is directly linked to your DUNS number. Suppliers or vendors want to see a credit history when they are considering doing business with you and offering your business trade credit. The same holds true for a bank or lender who is contemplating lending to your organization through small business loans, merchant cash advances, or other types of financing.
Protect personal credit: you will have to rely more on your personal credit for company needs if your business credit profile does not have a DUNS number tied to it. This can potentially hurt your personal credit if you hold high amounts of company debt or make late payments.
Improve supply chain relations: if you can show suppliers and vendors that you are a creditworthy company, they will be more inclined to give you longer trade terms, like net-30 or, in some cases, net-90 day terms. Building business credit history linked to your DUNS number is the best way to achieve this. Many companies use DUNS numbers to manage their supply chain relationships and ensure that they are working with reputable suppliers.
How To Find a DUNS Number
Before you apply for a DUNS number, make sure your business does not already have one. You can do this quickly by using the D&B D-U-N-S Number Lookup on the Dun & Bradstreet website. Try searching for your business using either your company name, address, or phone number. If you choose to search by company name, you will need to provide additional basic information such as:
Other methods for finding a DUNS number include calling D&B to request it or checking your business records where your DUNS number would be listed (i.e. tax documents, credit reports, or contracts) to see if your company has previously obtained a DUNS number. Additionally, it is always a good idea to check with your internal team, like the accountant, executive director, or anyone else who would likely know and be able to provide your company’s DUNS number, if one already exists. If you are unable to find your DUNS number, you may need to apply for one. To obtain a DUNS number, a company must provide D&B with basic information about the business, such as its name, address, phone number, and type of business.
How To Get a DUNS Number
Once you have confirmed that your business does not already have a DUNS number, you can begin the process of obtaining one for free. To get a DUNS number, apply here. You will have to provide D&B with your business information, like:
Doing business as (DBA) or other name by which your company is widely known or recognized
Physical address, if different from headquarters
Mailing address, if different from headquarters/physical address
Contact name and title
Number of employees at physical address
Business start date
Type of business
After this information has been sent to D&B, you will likely receive a call from a representative to help you navigate the process, and you should get your DUNS number within 30 days. If you need quicker service, you can use the DUNSFile service to get it in less than five business days, but it will cost you $229. Getting a DUNS number is a fairly simple process; however, it does require you to first establish your business as a legal entity (i.e. LLC, C- Corp, or S-Corp,) with your state.
Is a DUNS Number the Same as an EIN?
No, an EIN (Employer Identification Number) and a DUNS number are two separate identification numbers given to businesses for different purposes. While D&B issues DUNS numbers for business reporting purposes, the IRS issues EINs, or federal tax IDs, for tax-related purposes. Additionally, DUNS numbers stay the same for the entire life of the business, while EINs may change over time.