Why Does Your Business Need a DUNS Number?

So what exactly is this DUNS Number?

The Data Universal Numbering System is abbreviated as DUNS or D-U-N-S. It’s a proprietary system developed and regulated by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) that assigns a unique numeric identifier to a single business entity.

Introduced in 1963 to support D&B’s credit reporting practice, it’s a common standard worldwide. More than 50 global, industry and trade associations recognize, recommend or require DUNS. 

Does my small business need a DUNS number?

Part of forming a creditworthy company includes establishing positive credit ratings with major business credit reporting agencies such as D&B.

When you apply for a DUNS Number with D&B, the Data Universal Numbering System issues a nine-digit number that is unique to your company. This DUNS number is used to create your business credit file, similar to how your social security number is used to identify your personal credit reports.

How do I get a DUNS number?

To obtain your DUNS number, first enter your legal business name, city, and state in the search box on the D&B website and click on the search tab. This will verify if your company is already listed with D&B and has been issued a DUNS number.

You’ll see a list of possible matches, but click on the tab only if you believe there is a match to your company name. Doing so requires that you verify specific information about your business.

Once you gain authorization, D&B provides you access to your files via iUpdate, where you can review, update, correct and add company information. If your company does not show up in the search results, then most likely you do not have a DUNS Number.

When registering, you will need 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 is important to note that once you apply for a DUNS Number at no charge, your file will be created. But it will be considered an incomplete file (marketing file) if you have no trade references reporting. If this is the case, you can either add trade references to your file by enrolling in a monitoring program or you can 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?

Once you obtain your DUNS Number, the next step is to start establishing business credit by adding positive trade references to your file. This only happens when you start making purchases with creditors that report payment activity.

With more than 500,000 suppliers in the U.S. and less than 6,000 that actually report to the business, don’t get caught up in the mistake of applying for credit with non-reporting creditors when your chief aim is to build your company’s credit file.

Ultimately, a creditworthy profile will help creditors, lenders and suppliers assess the creditworthiness of your company when you apply for credit.


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