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What is a DUNS number, and how do you get one?

Boost your business credibility with this nine-digit number. Presented by Chase for Business.

minute read


    Good personal and professional relationships are built on a foundation of trust. And if you want lenders and potential partners to trust you, establishing your credibility is crucial.

    Applying for a DUNS number can help you do that. Read on to find out how.


    What is a DUNS number?

    A DUNS number is a nine-digit business identification, similar to a tax ID number. The business credit bureau Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) created the Data Universal Numbering System as part of its overarching proprietary credit reporting. Credit reports from D&B include a business’s DUNS number, along with other financial scores and assessments. Here’s what else you should know about the number:

    • It’s unique. Like a Social Security number that identifies a single individual, a DUNS number identifies a single business.

    • It tracks your business activity and relationships. Potential lenders and partners can use your business’s DUNS number to track information related to your finances. This includes basic details — your company name and contact information — along with more complex financial data related to your creditworthiness. A DUNS number can also provide information about your business’s relationships with other entities.

    • It connects to a larger profile. All information associated with a particular DUNS number creates a profile known as the Dun & Bradstreet Live Business Identity.

    • It paints a detailed picture of your finances. Your DUNS number can help current and prospective partners see different financial health indicators. These include your D&B business credit scores and ratings, as well as information on lawsuits, liens, judgments and other types of activity that may help them decide whether to work with your business.

    Ultimately, your DUNS number paints a picture of your business’s creditworthiness and can act as a predictor of your future financial reliability. This is why many global companies request DUNS numbers when vetting partners for contracts. It’s also why many business lenders require a DUNS number when assessing a business’s risk for business credit and loans.


    DUNS vs. EIN

    Although both a DUNS number and an employer identification number (EIN) are nine-digit business identifiers, and both can be obtained for free, they are different. An EIN is issued by the IRS, while a DUNS number is issued by D&B.

    EINs are also known as business tax ID numbers and are often used for functions such as paying taxes, applying for business credit cards or opening business bank accounts. DUNS numbers help potential partners decide whether your business is trustworthy.


    DUNS vs. UEI

    Until recently, the United States government used the DUNS as its primary business identifier. In 2022, the government began using the UEI, or Unique Entity Identifier, instead.

    The UEI is a number assigned to businesses via SAM (the federal System for Award Management). While some businesses may no longer need a DUNS number, having one can still be useful if your work isn’t limited to government entities.


    Applying for a DUNS number

    You can apply for a number directly on the Dun & Bradstreet website. The first step is to make sure that your company isn’t already in the DUNS database. Once you’ve confirmed that you’re a candidate for a new number, the next step is to gather the following information:

    • Your full name and business name

    • Your business’s contact details (address and phone number)

    • The year your company was founded

    • Details on your industry and the legal structure of your business

    • The number of full-time and part-time employees who work for you

    When you have all that info handy, you can simply plug your details into the form and submit your application. You should receive your number within 30 business days.


    What next?

    A DUNS number is just one of many tools that you can use to set yourself up for success. Once you’ve finished applying for your number, reach out to a Chase business banker to learn more about what else you can do to strengthen your business’s financial position.