What is a Business D-U-N-S Number and How do you Get One?

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2021
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Put simply, a D-U-N-S Number is a nine-digit long number that is used to identify your business. D-U-N-S actually stands for Data Universal Numbering System, and is a proprietary system that was developed by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) back in 1963 to originally help support their own credit reporting practice.

The ‘DUNS’ system was quickly adopted worldwide and is currently used across the European Commission, the United Nations, and the United States government. It is recognised within more than 50 industry and trade associations spanning the globe, and the DUNS database holds more than 280 million worldwide business entries.

How is my DUNS Number used?

Your DUNS number is particularly valuable to you when you are looking to secure your company with finance through obtaining credit or business loans. Your company will have a D&B® business credit file logged on the DUNS database that can be referenced by potential credit and loan lenders to better help them work out your financial reliability and stability. Your credit file can also be used by potential new business partners who will want to make sure you are a legitimate and financially stable company to partner up with before committing themselves. The DUNS database can provide enquirers with up-to-date financial information to help them make informed lending decisions much easier.

Why would I want a DUNS Number?

Because your DUNS number is used across dozens of countries across the world, including the European Union, USA and Australia, it can stand you in good stead if your plans include expanding your reach to trade in other countries. There are a lot of potential benefits for any business that participates. Establishing new partnerships abroad and seeking funding sources in other countries can be made a whole lot easier for you through the DUNS system.

Even if you already have begun to establish your reach much further afield and may already be committed to a contract, your DUNS number can help you in the future to improve the likelihood of securing renewed funding, increasing your loan amount, or negotiating better credit terms for future funding opportunities.

Having a DUNS number will help your business to established a good level of credibility with potential lenders and can win you more favourable terms for loans and business contracts. You will also be seen as a legitimate and serious company in the eyes of government bodies both within and outside of your home country, so would be more likely to be considered for home and foreign government contracts. In fact, in many countries where the DUNS system is operated, before you can even bid on any government proposals, you need to have obtained a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet.

How do I get a DUNS Number?

Getting a DUNS Number for your business is easy if you have a registered company that is based in the UK and Ireland. All newly registered companies in the UK and Ireland will automatically be issued with their own individual D-U-N-S Number. Obtaining your number from Dun & Bradstreet is completely free of charge.

If your company is registered in the UK or Ireland, but you are unsure of what your DUNS Number is, you can look up your number online.

Obtaining a DUNS Number for your business is quite straightforward if your business is registered outside of the UK. You can request a number online through the Dun & Bradstreet website and the process usually takes about five working days.

To apply for a DUNS Number if your business is registered outside of the UK or Ireland, you will need to supply the following information:

  • Legal name
  • Headquarters name and address for your business
  • Doing Business As (DBA) or other name by which your business is commonly recognized
  • Physical address, city, state and ZIP / Post Code
  • Mailing address (if separate from headquarters and/or physical address)
  • Telephone number
  • Contact name and title
  • Number of employees at your physical location
  • Whether you are a Home-Based Business

Having a DUNS Number will certainly help you negotiate better credit and finance terms for your company, but it will also make it easier to trade with a lot of businesses because many will insist you have a DUNS number in place before doing business with you.

Further reading:

The Positives and Negatives of setting up a Partnership

What are the Different Addresses Your Business Needs?

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