May 16, 2023 By Kristin Woodward

If you're a small business owner, you may have heard of a DUNS Number and wondered if your company needs one. In short, the answer is typically yes. A DUNS Number is a unique identifier for your business that credit reporting agencies and trade associations around the world use. It's generally essential if you want to establish creditworthiness and build a solid financial profile for your company.

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What is a DUNS Number?

The Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) is a proprietary system developed and regulated by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). It assigns a nine-digit numeric identifier to a single business entity. Introduced in 1963 to support D&B's credit reporting practice, it has become a common standard worldwide. More than 50 global, industry, and trade associations recognize, recommend, or require DUNS.

Why does my small business need a DUNS Number?

Establishing a positive credit rating with major business credit reporting agencies like D&B is typically crucial for your small business. These agencies use your DUNS number to create your business credit file, similar to how they use your social security number to identify your personal credit reports. It may help you establish credibility and trust with lenders, creditors, and suppliers.

With a DUNS number, obtaining financing, securing contracts, or establishing relationships with suppliers who may require a DUNS number as part of their due diligence process could be easier. By having a DUNS number, your small business is typically better able to differentiate itself from others and demonstrate its creditworthiness.

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How do I get a DUNS Number?

There is no charge to get your DUNS Number. Simply go to the D&B website and enter your legal business name, city, and state in the search box. If your company is already listed with D&B and has been issued a DUNS number, you may verify specific information about your business to gain authorization and access your files via iUpdate. If your company does not appear in the search results, you most likely do not have one and still need to register.

When registering, you will need to have the following information on hand:

  • Legal name
  • Headquarters name and address for your business
  • Doing Business As (DBA) or other name by which your business is commonly recognized
  • Physical address, city, state and ZIP Code
  • Mailing address (if separate from headquarters and/or physical address)
  • Telephone number
  • Contact name and title
  • Number of employees at your physical location
  • Whether you are a Home-Based Business

It’s important to note that D&B will create your file once you apply for a DUNS Number. But it will be considered an incomplete file (marketing file) if you don’t have any trade references reporting. If this is the case, you may either add trade references to your file by enrolling in a monitoring program or apply for credit and wait for a supplier to report your company’s payment activity.

What’s the next step after I set up my DUNS Number?

After obtaining a DUNS number, the next step is to start establishing business credit by adding positive trade references to your file. You may do this by making purchases with creditors that report payment activity. It's important to note that not all suppliers report payment activity, so it's typically crucial to do your due diligence and apply for credit with reporting creditors if your chief aim is to build your company’s credit file.

By establishing a creditworthy profile, your small business typically has a better chance of obtaining financing, securing contracts, and building relationships with suppliers. With a DUNS number, you may better differentiate your small business from others and demonstrate your creditworthiness in the competitive landscape of the business world. If you need fast and easy financing, you may explore obtaining an SBA loan with SmartBiz using our easy slide calculator here.

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