D-U-N-S Number — What You Need to Know

D-U-N-S Number — What You Need to Know

D-U-N-S Number — What You Need to Know

What is a DUNS number?

A DUNS number is a unique nine-digit identifier for a business created by credit bureau Dun & Bradstreet. Dun & Bradstreet is one of the three major business credit bureaus. DUNS numbers have become the standard numbering system to identify businesses across the globe. The Data Universal Numbering System—or DUNS number—was created and copyrighted in 1962 by Dun & Bradstreet.

Just as your social security number reveals a lot about you—your bank account, tax returns, credit score, residences, etc., your DUNS number reveals similar information about your business.

How can a D-U-N-S number help me?

Here are 4 ways a DUNS number can help you:

  1. Establish business creditworthiness. Your DUNS number is directly tied to the credit profile D&B builds on your business. In fact, to even have a D&B PAYDEX score, (you can check yours with Nav) you’ll need a DUNS number. When vendors or suppliers look up your business credit profile because they are considering doing business with you and offering your business trade credit, or a lender who is considering lending to your business, they’ll want to see a credit history. Keep in mind that your credit profile won’t be much use to you (and can actually harm you) until you begin establishing a strong business credit history.
  2. Safeguard your personal creditworthiness. When you don’t have a DUNS number tied to your business credit profile, you’ll need to depend more on your personal credit for business purposes. This can harm your personal credit if you make late payments or keep high amounts of business debt.
  3. Bid on government contracts. Local, state, and federal contracting opportunities will likely require your business to have a DUNS number. Any contracting opportunity in the System for Award Management (SAM) will require a DUNS number to apply.
  4. Get longer terms with your suppliers. If you can prove to vendors and suppliers that you are a creditworthy business, they will be more likely to offer you longer trade terms, like net-30 or even net-90 day terms. The best way to do this is by establishing business credit history tied to your DUNS number.

SAM Registration

In addition to a DUNS number, if your business or organization wants to do any business with any government agency, you must register in the System for Award Management (SAM) and renew every year. The federal government offers contracts every year to registered small businesses in every industry and SAM registration is required to service any federal contract.

Your SAM application will be processed within 5 business days, but it can take up to 25 business days for your application to be approved. There are multiple government agencies that are involved. The renewal for your SAM application and CAGE Code registration renewal happens 3 months before the expiration date.

Who is Dun & Bradstreet?

Your DUNS number only reveals credit information gathered by one credit bureau—Dun & Bradstreet. Originally known as the Mercantile Agency, Dun & Bradstreet is one of America’s oldest companies. Its founder, Lewis Tappan, created it in 1841 for the purpose of helping merchants establish the creditworthiness of potential customers.

Today, Dun & Bradstreet keeps track of over 265 million businesses worldwide. Over 100 million of those businesses have been assigned a DUNS number. The federal government adopted the DUNS number as its principal business identifier in 1994.

In 1998, the DUNS number was incorporated as the federal government’s contractor identification code. This means that companies without a DUNS number cannot do business with the federal government. This makes a DUNS number invaluable for many small businesses, since government contracts are often stable, lucrative sources of income.

Is a DUNS number the same as a Federal tax ID number?

A DUNS number is different from your federal tax ID (EIN) number. A DUNS number is used for business credit reporting purposes, whereas an EIN is issued by the IRS and used for tax identification purposes.

How do I look up my DUNS number?

Before you apply for a DUNS number, check to see if your business already has one. If you are a Nav customer, you can do this via the BusinessLauncher tool in your profile. Here, you’ll be connected to a lookup tool that search for your business using either your company name and address, or your company’s telephone number.

How to get a DUNS number

Apply here to get a DUNS number. Once you’ve applied, you’ll likely get a call from a D&B representative to help you through the process, and you’ll receive your DUNS number within 30 days. For quicker service, you can use DUNSFile to get it in less than five business days, but it will cost you $229.

Applying for a DUNS number is a simple process, but it does require you to first establish your business as a legal entity (LLC, C-Corp, S-Corp, etc) with your state. Inside the application, you’ll need to provide information like your legal name, the name of your business’ headquarters and address of your business, your telephone number, whether you’re a home-based business, and the number of employees at your physical location.

If you want your number fast, you can use the DUNSFile service to get it in less than five business days, but it will cost you $229.

The more you learn about business financing—including the importance of business credit cards and business tradelines and how reporting to the business credit bureaus is a key factor to the growth of your company—the more your DUNS number will work in your favor.

Additional Business Credit Resources: 


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Business Credit Scores

This article was originally written on February 15, 2018 and updated on August 2, 2021.

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50 responses to “D-U-N-S Number — What You Need to Know

  1. I’m trying to buy some hay from Canada and They want my Duns number. I’m not a business just have horses on my property. What do I do?

  2. I have an ecommerce business with no sales yet. Am I allowed to get a DUN# or would I have to wait? I do have a cc and bills that I regularly pay (for credit reporting).

  3. why do you need so much info? My SS #? Really? I don’t give this to someone I don’t know much about.

  4. I understand that not having a DUNS number and doing business with your personal credit can negatively affect your personal credit, but how does having a DUNS number and good business credit affect your personal credit?? can it in some way increase your personal credit??

  5. I’m building up inventory for a Art’s and Craft’s home base business.
    I’m looking forward to applying for a”DUNS”number in the very near future for”Raayas Art’s and Craft’s” in albany georgia soon.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi I’m trying to get my duns number but how does it separate my personal credit from my business? Do they check personal if I don’t have business credit started yet?what will they use for business credit

      1. The fact that you have a business credit rating does not mean there will never be a personal credit check. Some lenders check personal credit, some check business credit, and some check both (or neither). However, if your business does not have business credit established, it may have fewer borrowing options.

  6. I currently work overseas but am employed by the Federal government. We left the state of Virginia but do not have an address there until we return. Recently my spouse was hired for a job but needs a DUNS number because the job is an independent contracting job. How does she complete the DUNS application if we do not have a physical address in Virginia?

  7. I have a duns number i had it for a long time I need help how do I use it to get business credit for my business

  8. It has never been clear to me why a Duns Number is FREE yet to ‘get it fast’ you need to pay for it. Not about the speed of delivery – per se’, but what about HAVING the Duns number requires any urgency at all? Is there any other value to paying? Is the number more special? Comes with more advantages if you pay? I have never understood this because there are SO MANY promotions offering the paid version of Duns.

    1. Generally when people need one urgently it’s because they are applying for a government contract or grant with an impending deadline.(Or possibly for a business loan or business deal that requires it.) Otherwise, you are correct: no need to get it faster than the usual 30 days. We recommend business owners request a D-U-N-S number early on so it’s taken care of and they can start building business credit.

  9. I am planning to import a food products from China,it is a well packaged brown sugar can use hot water to dissolve it & use as beverages for refreshment–individual square bar that is wrapped w/ sealed wax paper & store inside an aluminium cartoon that can contain up to 25 pieces of this square bars.

    Would you please let me know how can I can DUNS number & the other prerequisite conditions that I may need before buying the products .
    By the way I am also in the process of getting FDA approval for this product.

    I also has a company registered under LLC since 2014 w/ EIN number as well.

    1. Marcia,

      You can either apply directly at the Dun & Bradstreet website or through your Nav account. If you have a Nav account and are having trouble with the process, you can reach out to our customer service team.

  10. I believe I have a DUNS number but my business is not showing up in the search. If I have the number, is there a way for me to search for it?

    1. It only gives you 3 choices Sole Proprietorship, Partnership or Corporation to apply under. If I am a LLC which one do I apply under?

  11. Hello. US Navy, local finance dept, says I need a DUNS number in order for USN personnel to attend a training session that is being offered by our 501.c.6 membership organization. My question is “do 501.c orgs need DUNS numbers?

  12. Please help me

    How can I get my D&B Number

    We are a Mexican contractor

    And a customer is requiring us the D&B number

  13. I am looking to receive certification that I am a “WOMEN OWNED BUSINESS”.
    My business was established as a LLC. i have been in business for 6 months with very credible sales.
    I have an office established solely at home and have one women who is an independent sales contractor that does not work at my location. I do already have my EIN number, California Re-Sale Certificate, CA Sellers Certificate,/Permit , Department of Finance, Tax Collection and Licensing #, LLC 12 Digit Secretary of State Articles of Organization File Number, Fictitious Business Statement Business and Professions Code 17900 ET SEQ. What are my next steps to take in order to receive required Women Owned Diverse Certification. Numerous clients are requesting that I attain this certification along with a DUN #. PLEASE ADVISE!!
    Proof for Fictitious Business Name Statements that has been published in the Daily Recorder.

    1. Congrats Shelley on how much you’ve accomplished in a short period of time! For next steps, I’d recommend you:

      1. Check to see whether your business is already has a D-U-N-S number. You can do this in one of two ways. If you have a Nav account (including a free account) you can see if there is a match for your business. If not, use Business Launcher (also free) to request your D-U-N-S number. Otherwise you can go directly to DNB’s site to search and request a D-U-N-S number.

      2. Read our article How to Become a Certified Woman-Owned Business. You’ll see both DIY and assisted options there. In addition, many Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) offer free or low-cost assistance to become certified.

      We wish you the best as you grow your business!

    1. It depends. Are the businesses related? If so I would choose a primary business and establish credit with it. (For example you have several ec-ommerce businesses under the same legal umbrella with DBAs for each.) If your businesses share a similar address and you are the principal of all of them the credit reporting agencies will likely associate them.

      On the other hand, if your business are completely different (a restaurant and an ecommerce business, for example), then I would recommend you establish credit separately for each.