A Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number is assigned by one of the three business credit bureaus, Dun & Bradstreet, and may also be called a D&B number. Much like a FICO score can help you track and build personal credit, a DUNS number helps businesses create a business credit score and record. 

You can apply for a unique DUNS number by phone or online. Here’s what you need to know about getting a DUNS number. 

What is a DUNS number?

A DUNS number is a unique nine-digit number that tracks various information about a business. DUNS numbers are also site-specific. If you have multiple physical locations for your business, each one can apply for a unique DUNS number. 

The proprietary system for DUNS numbers was created by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), and the database that D&B has for each business with a DUNS number is called the Live Business Identity. 

With this, D&B tracks business credit scores, general information, regulatory filings and other financial information for each business with a DUNS number. Along with general information, any negative financial judgments, such as bankruptcies, will be available to someone who searches for a DUNS number. 

Does every business need a DUNS number? 

No, every business doesn’t need a DUNS number. That said, it can help you build good business credit and is necessary if you want to apply for certain types of funding. It’s also required for a credit report from Dun & Bradstreet. 

Additionally, the federal government requires any business that applies for a federal grant or cooperative agreement to have a DUNS number unless they operate as a sole proprietor. Some private lenders may also want to use your DUNS number to see your credit score and other details about your business before they approve a business loan

How to get a DUNS number

You can get a DUNS number over the phone or online. The process is relatively streamlined and free. 

  1. Call 1-866-705-5711 or visit Dun & Bradstreet online to apply. 
  2. Provide information about your business type, such as a U.S.-based business or U.S. government contractor. 
  3. Supply business details, including the legal name of your business, your business address, the year your business started, the business’s legal structure and the name of the business owner or CEO/president. 
  4. Submit the application. 

Once you have a DUNS number, you will need to register on SAM.gov if you want to receive federal funding or enter into a government contract. 

Where to find your DUNS number

If you’re unsure if you have a DUNS number or need to confirm your number, you can use the DUNS lookup. The lookup also allows you to see other businesses’ numbers, which can be helpful if considering a new partnership or investing opportunities.   

The bottom line 

A DUNS number is useful for companies that need federal funding or who want to bid on federal contracts. It can also help any company build business credit and prove creditworthiness to private lenders. If you decide to get a DUNS number, remember it will track positive credit history and other negative events, like bankruptcies.

Frequently asked questions about DUNS numbers 

  • A DUNS number is an individualized number used to track the business credit history and other information about a business. It is nine-digits and never expires. 
  • No. An Employer Identification Number is a federal tax identification number. A DUNS number tracks business credit, ownership, time in business and other related details. A DUNS number is also used to apply for federal grants and contracts. 
  • To get a DUNS number, call 1-866-705-5711 or visit Dun & Bradstreet’s website to apply.