Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) first started its Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) in 1962, allowing each business to be identified at every location. Ever since the system’s creation 50 years ago, DUNS numbers have been assigned to over 100 million businesses worldwide. Even the European Commission, the United Nations and the U.S. government use these nine-digit identification numbers. Much like your social security number, a DUNS number allows credit companies and other entities to access a report of your financial history. You may need a DUNS number for a wide range of reasons. For example, if you are looking for government contracts, some government agencies require you to have a number. Enterprises applying for a business line of credit will likely also need a DUNS number. To help you join the millions of DUNS users, here is a guide on how to get a DUNS number:
4 Easy Steps to Getting Your DUNS Number
1) Look up if your company is listed - D&B already has a database of company information, known as the Company Look-up. Once you are on this page, look up your company listing with your company name and location. (Note that companies applying for U.S. government contracts have a different access site, through the Government iUpdate.) When entering your business name, remove any symbols, punctuation marks, abbreviations or corporate status. For example, if your company name is “Bob & Jane Mackey Pet Shop, Inc.,” simply enter “Mackey Pet Shop” for the clearest search results. Usually a vague search will lead to wider results, so you are more likely to find your business. If you do not see your company, you will see an option to “Get a DUNS Number.”
2) Fill in your personal information - D&B wants to know that you are really a part of this business, so make sure to fill out the form carefully. You will have to answer questions using your legal name, and the company asks for your physical home address. They will use this to authenticate your identity. D&B will not use this information for a business credit report, but you should fill it out accurately or your request for a DUNS number may not go through. Be as accurate as possible when filling in the company information. While you used vague search terms to look up the company, this section requires all the specifics. Fill in the company’s legal name, and note that a proprietorship requires the owner’s full legal name.
3) Fill out a corporate profile - You will now have to answer a few questions about your company. These questions include: other names your business uses, your company’s mailing address, the year your company started, and the legal structure of your business—whether corporation, partnership, proprietorship or other. The page also includes some optional questions. For example, D&B asks you if more than 50% women own and control the company. You should answer these questions, as such information may help you get a government grant in the future. You will have to fill in a few more pages about your company, including the name of your executive principal and the number of employees. You will also need your SIC code, which is a government classification for different types of businesses.
4) Finalize your request - D&B will let you look over a final report, so make sure all of your information is accurate (and spelled correctly!). Once you have reviewed your information, you have two options to process the number. If you need a number right away, you can pay for a DUNS Expedited service. This will give you a DUNS number within 5 business days. If you can wait, opt for the free Standard Registration. You will receive a DUNS number within 30 business days.