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LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

What Is a DUNS Number?

Updated on:
Content was accurate at the time of publication.

Businesses receive a DUNS number after registering with Dun and Bradstreet, the private business credit reporting agency that created the system. Similar to a personal Social Security number, a DUNS number is a nine-digit identifier for individual businesses.

Though not always required, lenders and potential business partners often reference a DUNS number when assessing a company’s financial stability. If you’re wondering whether to apply for a DUNS number for your business, we’ll help you dig through who needs one and how to get one.

What is a DUNS number?

DUNS stands for “Data Universal Numbering System.” This system maintains updated information about more than 330 million businesses worldwide. The number identifies a business’s Dun & Bradstreet profile, which includes the company name, address, branches and subsidiaries, as well as ratings for various financial health indicators.

The D&B Credit Insights program creates a full credit profile that provides information on the following:

  • Delinquency score for repayment risk
  • PAYDEX score, which reflects the timeliness of payments to suppliers
  • Number of lawsuits, judgments and liens against your business
  • Maximum credit recommendation
  • D&B rating
  • Supplier evaluation risk (SER) rating

Dun & Bradstreet is one of three major reporting agencies that collect business credit information, along with Experian and Equifax. These agencies produce their own business credit reports that evaluate how businesses handle financial obligations.

Your business needs a DUNS number to get a credit report from Dun & Bradstreet. Business owners can create their own DUNS number, but the agency also creates a number any time a third-party supplier or financial institution requests information about a business.

Dun & Bradstreet collects information from business registration authorities, like local governments, suppliers and business owners themselves to create individual profiles. A profile could be made without your knowledge or permission. You can look up your company and receive one free report for your own business or another company.

DUNS number vs. EIN

Many businesses have both a DUNs number and an EIN, and each serve different purposes.

An employee identification number (EIN) is like a Social Security number for your business. It’s used to identify business entities for tax purposes. Small business owners may use an EIN when filling out a W-9 for clients, filing their taxes or applying for loans. You can create an EIN for free through the Internal Revenue Service.

A DUNS number, however, identifies businesses within the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud. It isn’t used by the IRS, and instead tracks business information like company name and branches. It’s also connected to your PAYDEX score, which is essentially a business credit score based on whether or not you pay vendors on time.

Where to find your DUNS number

Before applying for a DUNS number, check the Dun & Bradstreet database to see if one has already been created for your business.

You can use the DUNS number lookup on the Dun & Bradstreet website to search by your business name or phone number. If you choose to search by company name, you’d need to enter some basic information:

  • Street address
  • City and zip code
  • State and country

If your search does not produce a DUNS number, you will need to create a new profile.

How to get a DUNS number

Establishing a new DUNS number is free for business owners and you can request a number online. You would need to provide the following information about your business when applying for a DUNS number:

  • Legal name
  • Company headquarters address
  • DBA name or other name assigned to your business
  • Your office address, if different from headquarters
  • Mailing address, if different from headquarters or office address
  • Phone number
  • Your name and title
  • Number of employees at your business location
  • Business start date
  • Legal structure
  • Type of business

It could take one to two business days to receive your DUNS number. You could also call 1-866-705-5711 to apply via phone. If you come across any websites or organizations charging a fee to acquire a DUNS number, they are likely fraudulent or part of a scam.

Applying for a DUNS number is free. Although any past financial missteps like a bankruptcy would be recorded, it would be better to have a profile with negative information than no profile at all. For instance, financial institutions may be suspicious if they cannot find any information when searching for a credit report, which could lead to little or no funding.

Does my business need a DUNS number?

The short answer is that you don’t need a DUNS number, as your business can operate without one.

However, because DUNS numbers are used by third parties when evaluating your business, having one can help you. There are several instances when your business may need a DUNS number:

  • A potential lender wants to review your DUNS profile, including your PAYDEX score, before approving a request for funding.
  • A supplier wants to confirm you’re a reliable payer before officially signing a contract.
  • Investors want to assess your financial standing before investing capital or signing on as a partner.

Having a DUNS number with a strong financial story can be incredibly beneficial for businesses of all sizes. It’s often better to have a DUNS number and not need it than to need it and not have one.

How a DUNS number can help your business

Since Dun & Bradstreet is one of the largest business credit reporting bureaus, people looking for your company credit history would likely check with the agency.

Establishing business credit would also help you separate your personal and professional finances. Keeping your business finances separate from your personal funds helps make bookkeeping easier and can offer a layer of asset protection for owners.

Just as others would use your DUNS number to investigate your business, you could do the same when deciding to work with another company. A DUNS number could indicate whether a company would be a worthwhile partner or target customer.


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How a DUNS number can hurt your business

Once you or someone else creates a DUNS number, all basic information about your business would be recorded, including judgments, bankruptcies and any other public findings. You won’t be able to hide negative aspects of your credit history.

Receiving credit from a supplier could help you build your credit profile, but they may not report your activity unless you ask. It would be your responsibility to ensure suppliers report your payment history to Dun & Bradstreet. You can submit credit details yourself in an attempt to influence your PAYDEX score, but this requires subscribing to one of Dun & Bradstreet’s paid plans. The Credit Insights Plus plan allows you to submit documentation on payments, bank statements and financial statements for $149 a month. However, self-reported content must be approved after going through D&B’s verification process and isn’t guaranteed to appear on your profile.

How to view your D&B business profile

To view your D&B business profile, you first need to know your DUNS number. You can look up your DUNS number here.
Once you search for the DUNS number and find the company you’re looking for, you’ll see an option to view the company’s profile. Once you create an account, you can view your Live Business Identity.

Multiple plans are available. The free plan includes access to five scores and ratings, including the PAYDEX score and maximum credit recommendation, which provides the most essential information in your profile.