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

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

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What is a DUNS number?

The Data Universal Numbering System—or D-U-N-S number—was created and copyrighted in 1962 by Dun & Bradstreet. It is a unique a nine-digit identifier that has become the standard numbering system to identify businesses across the globe.

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

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

Here are 3 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’ll need a DUNS number. need a When vendors or suppliers look up your business credit profile because they are considering doing business with you, 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.

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 do I apply for a DUNS number and what do I get?

The same business launcher tool will help you get a DUNS number should you find that you aren’t in Dun & Bradstreet’s records. 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. Once you’ve completed that, 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. Once you’ve applied, you’ll likely get a call from a D&B representative who will help you through the process, and you’ll receive your DUNS number within 30 days.

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 to the growth of your company—the more your DUNS number will work in your favor.

This article was updated on 02/15/18

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About the Author — Jamison is a content writer for Nav, the free site giving business owners access to their business and personal credit scores, and tools that match them to the best financing and services. Along with the intricacies of entrepreneurship and small business, his interests include philosophy, literature and history.

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

  1. 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

  2. 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.