The Data Universal Numbering System or DUNS number is a unique nine-digit number used to identify your business issued by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). Similar to a personal Social Security number, a DUNS number allows customers, business partners and financial institutions to learn more about your business. Dun & Bradstreet indicates that more than 120 million businesses have a DUNS number and business profile in their database. Getting a DUNS number requires registration using the Dun & Bradstreet website or the phone.
Each branch or division of your business must have its own DUNS number. The number is site-specific and based on each physical location of a business. You can apply for a DUNS number in two ways; online at the D&B website or by calling Dun & Bradstreet at 1-866-705-5711. According to the Small Business Administration, you must have the following to obtain a DUNS number:
Legal company name Headquarters company name and address DBA if applicable Physical and mailing address and telephone number Contact name and title Number of employees
D&B will conduct a search of your business to determine if a DUNS number already exists. If no match for your business is found, D&B will issue a number to your company within 30 days. The company also has business products available for purchase that allow you to get a DUNS number sooner, usually within five days or less.
The DUNS number is an important business identification system that remains with a company throughout its life cycle -- through name and address changes, reorganization and even bankruptcy. The number tracks all data and information about a business and consolidates it in one location. Lenders, suppliers and government entities use DUNS numbers to manage the risk of doing business with the company. Further, government contracts and grants only are available to businesses with DUNS numbers.
A DUNS number and D&B profile not only build the credibility of your business, they also helps the business establish credit separate from your personal credit. A D&B credit file houses and safeguards business data and serves as a platform to store credit information about your company. The profile includes business contact information, business size, credit references and payment history reported by banks and suppliers. Many banks and vendors only will extend credit to businesses with a D&B credit file because of the accuracy of information it contains.
After you obtain a DUNS number, D&B will create a file, typically used for marketing purposes until trade references begin to report. You can also add trade references on your own of the suppliers and financial institutions you do business with. Applying for credit in your business name with your new DUNS number will expedite the credit building process once suppliers report timely payments to D&B.