What Is a DUNS Number?

Dun, dun, dun! If you’re unfamiliar with what is a DUNS number, now might be the time for a quick overview. Otherwise, you might not know if you need one for your business.

With so many identification numbers and so little time, we’ll keep this short, sweet, and to the point. Read on to learn what is DUNS, whether you need one, and how to apply for one. 

DUNS number meaning

DUNS, or Data Universal Numbering System, is a unique nine-digit number that identifies businesses in the Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) Corporation’s system. Dun & Bradstreet is a credit reporting company for businesses that provides data and analytics information. Registered businesses with DUNS numbers receive a credit rating based on financial and business history.

DUNS is a unique nine-digit number that identifies businesses for credit purposes

Dun & Bradstreet created the DUNS number in 1962. Now, there are more than 330 million businesses globally in Dun & Bradstreet’s system.  

When you register for a DUNS number, D&B creates a file for your business. A DUNS number is universally recognized. And, these numbers are location-specific. Businesses with multiple locations might decide to apply for more than one DUNS number for each branch. 

If you have a DUNS number, individuals or businesses can use your unique number to access your D&B rating. Likewise, you can look up other businesses to learn more about their financial stability and credit rating. 

What is a DUNS number used for?

Your Data Universal Numbering System number is not a substitute for your federal taxpayer identification number, like an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You do not use your DUNS number for reporting with the IRS (e.g., reporting employer and business taxes).  

So, what is a business DUNS number for?

A DUNS number is used so: 

  • Lenders, vendors, and business partners can pull a business credit report 
  • You can track your business’s credit
  • The government can check your financial history before awarding grants and contracts
  • Apple can verify your business
  • You can learn more about a business you want to work with
  • You can stop leaning on your personal credit score for business purposes 

Getting a DUNS number is typically voluntary. However, you need one if you want to apply for a government grant or cooperative agreement. Apple also requires their developers to have a DUNS number before joining the Apple Developer Program or the Apple Developer Enterprise Program. 

Having a DUNS number is a convenient way for your business to share its business history, reputation, and credit with anyone who needs to know. 

How to apply for DUNS number

For DUNS number registration, you need to apply for a unique number. Thankfully, applying is free—and easy. Just how easy? The DUNS application should take you between five and 10 minutes.

You can do everything online through the official Dun & Bradstreet website. To apply, first select your reason for applying. You can choose from four options, which are:

If you select options 3 or 4, you will be directed to a new website. 

U.S.-based and Canada-based businesses can continue the application process on D&B’s website by inputting information, such as your business’s:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Legal entity 
  • Employee count

Remember, your DUNS number is only good for the specific business location you enter into the system. So if you have multiple business locations, you must apply for a separate DUNS number for each. 

After applying, you will receive your DUNS number within 30 days. You can pay $229 to expedite the process. Government contractors can get free expedited delivery. 

Do DUNS numbers expire?

Now that you know how to get a DUNS number, you might be wondering how long they last. DUNS numbers do not expire. In fact, your unique number will remain with your company even if you go out of business. 

DUNS number lookup

…What is my DUNS number? Do I even have one?

If you can’t remember if you already have a DUNS number, no worries. You can look up your business in D&B’s lookup system. Either enter your business’s name and address OR phone number. 

You can also do a DUNS number search on other companies using D&B’s lookup system. Again, enter the company’s name and address OR phone number. 

A good credit rating begins with organization and making timely payments. That’s one reason why you need up-to-date accounting records. Want to make managing your books easier? Try Patriot’s accounting software for free today! 

This article has been updated from its original publication date of August 28, 2015. 

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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