The federal government has replaced the DUNS Number with a new unique entity identifier known as the Unique Entity ID. Here’s what that means for your small business, and what you need to do now.
What is a Unique Entity Identifier?
The Unique Entity ID is the official identifier for doing business with the U.S. Government as of April 4, 2022. It is a 12-character alphanumeric ID assigned to an entity by SAM.gov. The federal government uses a system called SAM, which stands for System for Award Management. Any entity that is wants to apply for federal contracts or wants to receive federal funds must register with SAM. Entities that use SAM include for profit businesses, nonprofits, government contractors or subcontractors, as well as state and local governments.
The Unique Entity ID is generated in SAM.gov. If your business or nonprofit is already registered in SAM.gov— whether you are active or not— you already have a Unique Entity ID. You can find it at SAM.gov.
If you have not registered with SAM.gov, you will get your Unique Entity ID (SAM) during registration. Registration is free.
Is the Unique Entity Identifier the Same as DUNS?
No. Before the UEI was launched as the identifier for use in SAM, small businesses that wanted to do business with the federal government were required to obtain a DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet. Now they are assigned a UEI managed by the federal government.
How Do I Find My UEI Number?
You will only have UEI if you previously completed SAM.gov registration. If you have, then you can log into SAM.gov to view your entity registration record and get your UEI. (If you’re not sure if you’ve registered, you can always try logging in.)
How Do I Get A UEI Number?
If you are registering for the first time at SAM.gov, you will be automatically assigned a UEI during the registration process. New SAM registrants will see two options, both of which will allow them to get a new Unique Entity ID:
- If you want to bid directly on contracts or grants from the federal government, choose “Register Entity.”
- If you are a sub-awardee of a grant or contract who just needs a Unique Entity ID for subaward reporting, choose “Get Unique Entity ID.”
You’ll be asked for your legal business name and physical address. Note that you will not be able to use a P.O. Box as your address.
The Entity Validation Service is a service that is used to independently verify that a business is a separate legal entity with a separate physical address. You may be asked for the date and state in which your business was incorporated for entity validation purposes, so you may want to have that handy. It’s also possible that you may be asked for additional documentation to verify your business identity.
Does My Business Need a UEI?
There are numerous opportunities for small businesses to grow their businesses through federal government contracting or procurement opportunities, as well as federal loans, grants or financial assistance programs. You will need a UEI if you wish to pursue these opportunities.
You do not need a UEI to file business tax returns with the federal government. For that you’ll need a taxpayer identification number, which will either be an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or your Social Security Number.
In addition, you can search federal grants at Grants.gov. If you decide to apply for federal government grants, then you’ll need to register with SAM.
Does My Business Still Need a DUNS Number?
It’s a good idea for small businesses to get a DUNS number as it is used as the identifier in the Dun & Bradstreet commercial credit reporting system. If your business does not already have one, you can request a D-U-N-S number (short for Data Universal Numbering System) for free.
While the US General Services Administration warns that “You will no longer find the DUNS number in any SAM.gov searches, views, or extracts,” that doesn’t mean your business no longer has a DUNS number, just that it is no longer used within the federal government’s Integrated Award Environment (IAE) which manages several systems including SAM.gov, FPDS, eSRS, FSRS, CPARS and FAPIIS.
Will My UEI Expire?
No. While businesses may want to update their SAM.gov account each year to avoid an inactive registration, UEIs will not expire.
Is There a Cost to Get A UEI?
No. You can get a Unique Entity ID for free from the federal government. You can get a UEI and register your business for government grants, contracts and federal assistance for free at SAM.gov.
How Do I Update My Business Information?
If the legal name or physical address of your business has changed, you can now update it through SAM.gov instead of going to Dun & Bradstreet as previously required.
Will the Government Call or Email Me About MY UEI?
GSA is not contacting organizations directly about the Unique Entity ID (SAM). If you receive an unsolicited call or email about a UEI be careful. Don’t provide personal information or information about your business; log into your SAM.gov account to manage your registration.
Where Can I Get Help with SAM.gov or My UEI?
Start at SAM.gov where you’ll find FAQs about the UEI transition. If you still need help, you can search for help on the Federal Service Desk (FSD.gov) website or request help from an FSD agent during business hours of 8 am to 8 pm ET Monday through Friday.
This article was originally written on April 4, 2022 and updated on November 17, 2022.