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Understanding DUNS Numbers

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A company’s Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number is part of its identity. This widely used identification method involves a unique nine-digit number, which is assigned by Dun & Bradstreet, a leading global provider of business data and analytics. A DUNS number keeps track of detailed information attached to each organization.

To better understand how and why these numbers are important in the business world, let’s examine some common questions about DUNS numbers:

Why are DUNS numbers important to today’s companies?

Potential investors, business partners, banks, and lenders regularly research a company’s DUNS number to help track commercial risk assessments and predict a company’s future financial stability and reliability. In addition, the DUNS number also tracks the relationships between corporate identities. This business information is continually updated in Dun & Bradstreet’s data cloud, which includes hundreds of millions of businesses around the globe.

How is a DUNS number used?

A DUNS number—which is free to U.S. businesses—serves many purposes. These include accessing a company’s basic information (business name, address, and phone number), as well as a company’s Dun & Bradstreet business credit file, and information on branches, subsidiaries, customers, suppliers, partners, and financial ratings/ scores.  

The compilation of this unique data, making up a company’s business identity, is very important when others are seeking details about your company—and when you are conducting research on other companies.

How did the DUNS number come about?

In 1963, Dun & Bradstreet created the DUNS system as a way to identify businesses. Soon after, DUNS numbers became an important component of Dun & Bradstreet’s business credit reporting system. About three decades later, DUNS evolved into the standard business identifier for federal government electronic commerce. Today, DUNS is used by numerous organizations, including large corporations, small family-run businesses, and non-profits. Not only do major retailers use DUNS, but the U.S. government also requires all of its vendors and federal grant recipients to have a DUNS number in order to receive services related to the government.

How can a DUNS number help my business?

If you are looking to establish credibility with lenders or expedite loan applications, the DUNS number can be very helpful in gathering business insights. The information attached to this identification number includes various ratings and scores that are used by numerous lenders—as well as information on lawsuits, judgments, and liens.

For companies doing business with the federal government or with global companies, the DUNS number helps to identify each company and provide valuable details to verify a company’s legitimacy and highlight any potential risk.

When potential customers or suppliers are seeking information about your company, the DUNS number is an easy and reliable way to collect details, such as payment history and business credit scores. Just as personal credit is important and gives insight to your creditworthiness, the DUNS number helps as the first step to establishing your business credit for your small business.

How do I get a DUNS number?

Using the DUNS website is an easy way for business owners to apply for a DUNS number, which typically takes about 30 business days. However, it is important to note that this amount of time can be reduced to 24 hours when applying as part of a federal government contract. To do this, the company awarding the contract must provide detailed information, such as company name, address, number of employees at the physical location, and contact information.

How can I check a DUNS number?

Accessing the DUNS Number Lookout tool on Dun & Bradstreet’s website allows you to check whether a business has a DUNS number. This database not only provides access to a company’s credit score, but it allows you to review and print credit scores and payment history, and update financials.

Can I check my DUNS number using another credit bureau?

Because DUNS numbers are unique to Dun & Bradstreet, you are not able to use this database to look up information such as credit history listed with other credit bureaus, such as Experian.

The 9-digit DUNS number is vital when it comes to establishing credibility, doing business, and sharing your story with others. For this reason, the DUNS number is considered a must-have for today’s businesses.  

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