DUNS Number: What Is It and Does Your Business Need One?

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If you’re an entrepreneur getting your business off the ground, you might hear the term D-U-N-S Number mentioned. This number comes from Dun & Bradstreet — another name you might hear as well — which is a company that provides commercial data, analytics and insights for businesses. If you don’t recognize either of these terms, you should make yourself familiar, because they are closely associated with your business’s credit, creditworthiness and your ability to get a business loan . Read on to find out what a D-U-N-S Number is and why you should get one for your business.

What Is a D-U-N-S Number?

D-U-N-S stands for data universal numbering system. A D-U-N-S Number is a unique nine-digit number that Dun & Bradstreet uses to establish your company’s D&B file and identify businesses throughout the world. A D-U-N-S Number is important because it can be used to look up your business’s D&B Rating , which contains important information like your business creditworthiness. Other businesses and lenders often use this information in order to make a decision about working with your company or lending to it. There’s no charge to create your D-U-N-S Number. A point of clarification is needed here. Often times businesses assume that their D-U-N-S Number is the same as their Employer Identification Number (EIN) , which is issued by the IRS. Your company’s D-U-N-S Number is not the same as your company’s EIN, yet both are used for identification purposes.

How Can a D-U-N-S Number Help Your Business?

Getting a D-U-N-S Number can benefit your business in several ways. Here are some of the principal ways a D-U-N-S Number can help you:

  • Establish business creditworthiness:  Your D-U-N-S number is directly connected to your D&B credit profile for your business. Your credit profile is extremely important because vendors, suppliers and other businesses use it to determine whether they should do business with you. Equally if not more important, lenders who are considering lending to your business will want to review for credit history, often through your D&B Rating. Taking steps to build your business credit is critical to your success.
  • Protect your personal credit:  If you don’t have a D-U-N-S Number associated with your business credit profile, you’ll typically need to rely on your personal credit more for business purposes. It is generally not a good idea to intertwine your personal credit with business credit because, if you make late payments or keep high amounts of business debt, then your personal credit will suffer.
  • Getting government contracts:  It is very common for local, state and federal government contracts to require your company have a D-U-N-S Number. Contract opportunities will likely require your business to have a D-U-N-S number. For instance, any contracts through the System for Award Management (SAM) will require a D-U-N-S number to qualify.
  • Better terms from your vendors and suppliers:  Using your D&B credit profile, if you can demonstrate to vendors and suppliers that you’re a creditworthy business, you’ll have improved chances at getting better trade terms from them, such as net-30 or net-90 day terms on payments to them. Since building your creditworthiness depends on establishing a business credit history, getting your D-U-N-S Number is highly recommended.

Another key reason to get a D-U-N-S Number for your business is that, once you do, you get access to your PAYDEX score from Dun & Bradstreet. Your PAYDEX score is based on factors such as how quickly your business repays lenders, rather than your company’s financial standing like equity and net worth.

How to Get a D-U-N-S Number

Getting a D-U-N-S Number is very straightforward. You can apply on the Dun & Bradstreet website , where you’ll be asked the primary reason for registering for a D-U-N-S Number, address and contact information. Once you’ve applied, you’ll typically get a call from a D&B representative to assist you with the process and receive your D-U-N-S number within 30 days. A very important point to take note of is that you’ll need to have your business established as a legal entity before you can get a D-U-N-S. This means you have to first decide on what business structure your company has, such as a limited liability company (LLC), C corporation, S corporation, sole proprietorship or partnership, and register your entity type with the state.

How Do I Look Up My D-U-N-S Number?

Looking up your D-U-N-S Number is actually a good first step to take. This is because sometimes a business might already have a D-U-N-S Number if someone at your company already applied and registered for one. You can check to see if your company has a D-U-N-S by going to Dun & Bradstreet’s D-U-N-S Number Lookup page. You can also find another company’s D-U-N-S Number here as well.

The Bottom Line

Having a D-U-N-S Number is not a requirement for your business to operate. However, it is a very important piece of numerical information that identifies your company and, more importantly, is connected to your Dun & Bradstreet business credit profile. The chief importance of having a D-U-N-S Number is that it is integral to building and improving your business creditworthiness. When you go to lenders for financing or are looking for a supplier for your business, these companies will very likely use your D-U-N-S Number to learn about your business’s financial standing and credit history via your D&B Rating. Getting a D-U-N-S Number, therefore, is one of the first steps towards establishing a solid credit file for your business so that you can access more forms of funding and work with more businesses in the future.

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