DEFINITION of 'DUNS Number'
A data universal numbering system (DUNS) number is a nine-digit number that uniquely identifies a business. Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) created the number, which generates a business profile in its database that provides the name of a company, phone number, address, number of workers and line of work, along with other relevant information about the company.
BREAKING DOWN 'DUNS Number'
A DUNS number allows a company to search for information about other companies and helps businesses find potential customers, partners or vendors. The federal government uses DUNS numbers to track federal money disbursements. It is the most widely used number for identifying companies in the United States. The number is necessary to bid on local, state or government contracts; apply for federal grants; and do business with retailers and some foreign countries such as Australia and the European Union.
A DUNS number provides information related to a company such as the business name, financial data, trade name, payment history, financial status and executive names. An authorizing representative of a company must request a DUNS number. It may take up to 30 days to receive a number. However, the number can be received within five business days at no cost if applying for a federal government contract. A DUNS number is required for each physical location of a company and for specific self-employed individuals such as contractors, lawyers or doctors. The number remains with the company location it has been assigned even if the company goes out of business or closes.
D&B is one of the leading business credit bureaus. A DUNS number is also used to establish a business credit profile. It permits government agencies, nonprofits, lenders and vendors to get information about a business, which makes a business more favorable for business funding. In addition, it can expedite approval for business funding and contracts. A DUNS number can help a business build a credit profile. It allows a business to access its D&B business credit score; review and update an existing D&B credit report; view and print a copy of its D&B credit report; review and dispute payment history; and update financial information.
In 1983, D&B created the DUNS number to support its business credit reporting system. In October 1994, it was adopted as the standard business identifier for federal government electronic commerce.