What is a DUNS number?

What is a DUNS number

A Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number contains 9 unique digits used to identify your business. The DUNS was developed by one of the three major credit bureaus, that being Dun & Bradstreet. 

Your business’ DUNS number is used to relate a ton of information about your business and its financials – in a similar way your social security number reveals much about you. A DUNS number may also be referred to as a DUNS ID or a DUNS Bradstreet number. 

No matter what, the intinstic DUNS meaning won’t change. It’s a way for important partners to verify your company and its financials. 

How does a DUNS number work?

A DUNS number is a nine-digit business identification number that works similarly to a Social Security number. The main difference is that while Social Security numbers identify a single individual, a DUNS number identifies a singular business. 

Your DUNS number for business purposes can relay information like your company name, address, phone number, corporate relationships, headquarters, branches, subsidiaries, credit scores, and other financial indicators. Your business’ DUNS number will remain the same throughout your business’ entire lifetime. 

What is the purpose of a DUNS number?

A DUNS number can give your business credibility and creates a way for potential partners to get a clear idea of your business’s finances. Afterall, it’s linked to your business credit report from Dun & Bradstreet. Lenders and other business partners may use your DUNS number to understand the reliability and financial stability of your company.

What do I need when applying for a DUNS number?

You can apply for a DUNS number through the Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) website. You can also call 1-866-705-5711 to register for a DUNS number or search for one. When you set up your DUNS number for your business, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Full business name
  • Business address
  • Business phone number
  • Name of business owners 
  • Legal business structure
    • Corporation
    • Partnership
    • Proprietorship 
  • Year the business was created 
  • Total number of employees 

Does my business need a DUNS number?

If you’re self-employed or a sole proprietor, you may not need a DUNS number for your business. However, any business or organization that intends to seek out financing, contracts with government agencies, or that wants to appear more legitimate – should have a DUNS number.

DUNS number cost

Applying for and creating a DUNS number is free. However, if you want to receive your number faster than the standard period of 45 days, you can pay $299 to have the process expedited. 

Benefits of a DUNS number

If you’re still starting out in your business, you might not think that you need to apply for a DUNS number right away. However, there are important benefits that come with establishing a Bradstreet number. Let’s take a look at a few of them. 

Establish business creditworthiness

A DUNS number is linked to your business’ credit history. Lenders will use your DUNS number to review your business’ credit report to decide whether or not they are willing to approve you for financing. Alongside creditworthiness, establishing a DUNS number is one of the key ways to create and build business credit. 

Separate personal and business credit reports

When your business is still new, the lines between your personal credit and business credit may be blurred. A DUNS number helps distinguish between the two and can even safeguard your personal creditworthiness. 

Ability to bid on government contracts

The government distributes millions of dollars in contract awards to small businesses every year. If you’re hoping to get in on the action, you’ll need a DUNS number. 

Bidding on local, state, and federal contracting opportunities requires a DUNS number. You’ll want to make sure you’ve established one before the actual bidding process begins. 

Longer terms with your suppliers

Having a DUNS number or DUNS ID means your business and its financials are now trackable. This will add an extra layer of legitimacy to your business, which your partners and vendors may appreciate. 

For example, vendors may use your DUNS number to review your business credit history. If you can prove to them that you are creditworthy, they may be more likely to offer you longer trade terms.

DUNS number vs EIN

A DUNS number is distinct from your business’s federal tax ID (EIN) number. While both of these are unique identifiers used to relate information about your company, they ultimately represent different things. 

A DUNS number is mostly used for business credit reporting and is not issued by the federal government. On the other hand, your EIN is issued by the IRS and used for tax purposes.

How to apply for a DUNS number

The easiest way to apply for a DUNS number for free is through the DUNS website. Simply fill out the application and a representative from Dun & Bradstreet will contact you to help you through the process. 

The entire process should take about a month to six weeks. However, if you need your new DUNS number sooner, you can use the DUNS File service, which costs $229, in order to get it in less than five business days.

Keep in mind that you must have already established your business as a legal entity (LLC, C-Corp, S-Corp, etc.) before applying for a DUNS number. 

DUNS number for business credit score explained 

Your business’s DUNS number is one of the most important factors that link your company to its credit history. Whenever you’re looking to apply for financing to grow or expand your business, lenders will ask for your DUNS number. 

Not having one or waiting too long to create one can result in liquidity problems for your business down the line. This could hurt your opportunities to launch plans or even go after your business goals.

It’s best to prepare beforehand, and to take the time now to apply for a DUNS number. This way, you can start building business credit and you’ll be prepared for whatever life throws at you!


Why do I need a DUNS number?

A DUNS number is required for your business credit report, as well as when you’re applying for government grants and bidding on contracts from the federal government.

Is the DUNS number the same as the tax ID?

No. Your DUNS number and tax ID (EIN) number are completely separate. This first is issued by the credit bureau Dun & Bradstreet while the latter is issued by the IRS. Your DUNS relates information on your business’s credit history while your EIN is used for tax verification purposes.

How long does it take to get a DUNS number?

It usually takes up to 45 days to get a DUNS number. But you can expedite this process with the DUNS File service. You’ll need to pay $299, but you’ll be able to get your DUNS number within 5 business days.

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