What is a DUNS Number? Understanding the Edge it Gives

Are you a small business owner looking for an edge to help your business stand out among the competition? Obtaining a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) DUNS number, sometimes confused with DNS (Domain Name System), could be just the key to success that you’ve been missing. But what is a DUNS number, and what is a DNS number? They are quite different and serve unique purposes in the business and internet world, respectively.

In this article, we’ll delve into what is a DUNS number, why you need one, and how to apply for one. In addition, we’ll clarify what a DNS number is and how it’s different from a DUNS number. Continue reading to learn more …

What is a DUNS Number?

A DUNS number, or Data Universal Numbering System number, is a unique nine-digit identifier assigned to businesses. It’s a key tool in establishing credibility and recognition, which are vital for attracting customers, accessing new resources, and driving growth in the competitive marketplace of today.

This number is provided by Dun & Bradstreet, a  credit bureau that maintains an extensive database with up-to-date information on hundreds of millions of global businesses. By using this vast resource, businesses can validate their credibility and improve their market position.

The value of a DUNS number extends beyond mere identification; it also serves as a measure of a business’s creditworthiness, reputation, and financial standing. This means it gives potential investors, partners, and customers an indication of the business’s financial stability and reliability, making it a crucial asset in building trust and fostering successful business relationships.

You can get your feet wet before diving into the article by watching Destiny Adams’ informative video titled ‘How To Get A DUNS Number From Dun & Bradstreet To Build Business Credit | Step By Step Guide.’ She walks you through the critical process of securing a DUNS number to establish and improve your business credit, a crucial step for every budding entrepreneur. Adams’ easy-to-follow guide makes this seemingly complex process a breeze!

Key Facts

A D-U-N-S number is essential for businesses for many reasons. Let’s take a look at four key facts you need to know about DUNS numbers.

  • It is used to establish your business’s unique identity and creditworthiness in the marketplace.
  • It is an important element of most business loan and grant applications.
  • Businesses must have their own unique D-U-N-S number to be granted access to certain government contracts and funding opportunities.
  • It is also used to track your business’s performance in its industry by allowing vendors, suppliers, and customers to access certain records.

what is a DUNS number

What is a Data Universal Numbering System Number Used for?

A Data Universal Numbering System or D-U-N-S number is used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to:

Establish Business Credit

DUNS numbers are often used to set up a business’s credit file. Vendors, suppliers, and financial institutions can use a business’s DUNS number to access its creditworthiness.

Federal Government Contracts

Having a D-U-N-S number was used to provide access to contracts from government agencies and funding opportunities. However, as of April 4th, 2022, a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) is now needed.

Obtain Financing

Having a DUNS number can help to increase your chances of obtaining financing from vendors, suppliers, and financial institutions.

Register as a Supplier

Businesses that wish to register as suppliers with larger companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple must have a DUNS number.

Who Needs a D-U-N-S Number?

Does your business need a D-U-N-S number? Let’s take a look at five scenarios to help answer that question.

  • New business. If you are setting up a new business, you need to obtain a DUNS number.
  • Establish credibility. If you’re looking for ways to establish credibility in the market and build trust with potential customers, then a D-U-N-S number is essential.
  • Secure financing. If you’re looking to secure financing, then having a DUNS number can help lenders see different financial health indicators.
  • Grow your business. Having a DUNS number can help you gain access to resources that can help your business grow and succeed.
  • Looking for partners. If you’re looking for potential business partners to help expand your business, a DUNS number can help you stand out in the crowd.

How a DUNS Number Can Help Your Business

Having a DUNS number can help businesses in many ways. Here are four ways a DUNS number could help a small business:

Sets Businesses Apart

DUNS numbers provide businesses with a unique identifier that sets them apart from their competitors helping potential customers easily recognize their business.

Improves Credit Rating

Having a DUNS number can help small businesses build their credit rating and establish their business as a legitimate entity.

Gives Access to Capital

Having a DUNS number can give small businesses access to more capital, including business loans, small business credit cards, and other financing options that may otherwise be unavailable.

Helps Establish International Trade Partnerships

Small businesses can use their DUNS number to establish international trade partnerships, helping them to expand their services and reach a larger market.

How to find your DUNS and Bradstreet Number

Finding your DUNS number is simple and straightforward. After accessing their DUNS number lookup tool, follow these steps:

1. Search for a company. In the dropdown box, select “My Company” or “Other Company.”

2. Enter business details. Insert the business name and address you’re looking up. Alternatively, you can use the business phone number. Click “Search” after you’ve entered the business’s information.

3. View the company profile. From the search results page, click on “View / Edit Company Information” to view all of the company’s information such as its business credit file. You’ll need a Dun & Bradstreet account to view any information, including a company’s DUNS number and business credit file.

The table provides a clear and organized summary of the process, making it easier for users to understand and follow the procedure of finding a DUNS number.

Steps for Finding your DUNS NumberDescription
Search for a companyGo to the DUNS number lookup tool. In the dropdown box, choose between "My Company" or "Other Company."
Enter business detailsType in the business name and address you're looking up. As an alternative, you may also use the business phone number. Click "Search" after entering the business's information.
View the company profileAfter reaching the search results page, click on "View / Edit Company Information" to view comprehensive information about the company, like its business credit file. Remember, you need to have a Dun & Bradstreet account to access any information, including a company's DUNS number and business credit file.

How to apply for a DUNS Number

What is a DUNS number? Person applying on a computer

If you know how to open a business bank account, applying for a DUNS number should come naturally. The process is uncomplicated and largely web-based. It involves providing details about your business on an application form found on the Dun & Bradstreet website. Upon approval of your application, a unique nine-digit DUNS number will be assigned to your business, acting as a key to unlocking new resources.

Here are the steps in bullet form:

  • Visit the Dun & Bradstreet Website: The first step is navigating to the Dun & Bradstreet website, where you’ll find the necessary resources to apply for a DUNS number.
  • Fill Out the Application: The application will require various details about your business. Essential information includes the business’s name, its physical address, and possibly additional details regarding your operation.
  • Await Approval: After the submission of your application, it will undergo a review process. This may take some time, so a bit of patience might be required.
  • Receive Your DUNS Number: Once your application is approved, a unique nine-digit DUNS number will be sent to you. This number is your business’s new identifier and can be used to access new resources and establish a credit profile.


Building Your Business Credit Profile with a DUNS Number

Having a DUNS number is essential if you want to build your business credit history and improve your business credit report. With it, creditors and lenders can gain access to business credit report records of your business’s creditworthiness that help them evaluate the risk associated with providing you with a small business loan or line of credit. Make sure to learn how to get a small business loan before applying for financing.

Is a DUNS Number the Same as a Federal Tax ID Number?

No, a DUNS number is not the same as a Federal Tax ID number. A DUNS is a unique nine-digit number issued by Dun & Bradstreet and used to identify organizations in the marketplace. A Federal Tax ID number is a unique nine-digit number issued by the IRS and used to identify organizations for tax purposes. While they both serve important purposes, they are not interchangeable.

Is a DUNS Number the same as an EIN Number?

No, a DUNS number is different than an Employer Identification Number (EIN). A DUNS number is a unique nine-digit identifier used to identify different businesses in the market. An EIN number is a unique nine-digit number similar to a social security number, except for businesses. It’s obtained from the IRS and is used for business tax filings.

How much is a DUNS number?

It’s free! Unlike some other business identifiers and registrations, there is no cost to obtain a DUNS number. All you have to do is visit the Dun and Bradstreet website, fill out the application, and wait to be approved. However, they also offer $229 one-time and $399/yr options.

DUNS number

What is a high business credit score on DUNS number?

A high business credit score on a DUNS number indicates that the company has a history of paying its bills on time and is in good financial standing. Generally, a score of 70 or higher on a scale of 1 to 100 is considered good and indicates that the company is likely to be approved for loans and other types of financing. If your business score is low, discover how to fix your credit score.

Do you need a tax ID to get a DUNS number?

A tax identification number is not required to obtain a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) DUNS Number, which is used by the United States federal government and other organizations around the world to track business entities.

Do you need a website to get a DUNS number?

No, you do not need a website to get a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) DUNS Number. All that is required to get a DUNS number is to fill out an application on the Dun & Bradstreet website with your business details and physical address.

How do I build business credit with my DUNS number?

Learning how to build business credit with a DUNS number quickly and effectively is an important part of running a successful business.

To get started, make sure to use your DUNS number to apply for business credit cards, loans, small business line of credit, and other types of financing. You also need to make sure to pay all of your bills on time and in full to maintain a high credit score.

Can a sole proprietor get a DUNS number?

What is a DUNS number - sole proprietor

Yes, a sole proprietor can obtain a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) DUNS Number. The process is no different than for any other business entity.

Simply fill out an application on the Dun & Bradstreet website and wait for approval.

Are DUNS numbers going away?

If an entity does business with the federal government, then yes. As of April 4th, 2022, the General Services Administration (GSA) started using UEIs or Unique Entity Identifiers for any business doing business with the government.

This means they no longer use DUNS numbers. Here’s further reading if you’re interested in learning how to get government contracts.

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.