How to Get a DUNS Number

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Have you heard your business needs a DUNS number,  but you’re not sure how to get one―or maybe even why you need one?

Getting a DUNS number is pretty simple. You just apply on the Dun & Bradstreet website. Then your DUNS number will get used to report on your business credit.

Want more details? Our guide will show you how to get a DUNS number so you can start building business credit.

How do you get a DUNS number?

Here’s how you get a DUNS number:

  1. Visit the Dun & Bradstreet website.
  2. Use the D&B system to check if your business already has a DUNS number.
  3. Decide whether or not you want to pay for an expedited DUNS number or business credit monitoring.
  4. Create a Dun & Bradstreet account.
  5. Fill out the DUNS number application and attach any documents you have.
  6. Wait up to 30 days for your new DUNS number.

Like we said, pretty simple. But we do want to point out a few things.

You may already have a DUNS number.

There is a fair chance that, during step 2, you’ll find out your business already has a DUNS number.

Dun & Bradstreet sometimes automatically creates a DUNS number for businesses―even if the business owner doesn’t request one.

How long does it take to get a DUNS number?

You won’t get your DUNS number instantly. If you decide to pay for business credit monitoring through Dun & Bradstreet (a minimum of $229 per year), you’ll get your new DUNS number within eight business days. But if you opt to keep things free, it can take up to 30 days to get your DUNS number. 

You can speed things up, though, by attaching optional documentation during step 5. If you show documents that prove your business’s name and location, Dun & Bradstreet won’t have to verify those things itself―which can mean a faster DUNS number for you.

What do I do after I get my DUNS number?

After you get your DUNS number, you can start building business credit and using your DUNS number to apply for business credit products.

For example, let’s say you apply for one of the following types of business credit:

  • Trade credit
  • Business loans
  • Business credit cards

The vendor, lender, or credit card company might ask for your DUNS number. It will use it to check your business credit history and see whether or not you’re considered creditworthy.

Companies that ask for your DUNS number also usually report your business credit activity to Dun & Bradstreet, meaning they’ll affect your business credit score.

So after you get and start using your DUNS number, it’s a good idea to check your business credit score on a regular basis.

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DUNS number 101

Need a refresher on all things DUNS number? Let’s review the DUNS number essentials.

What is a DUNS number?

A DUNS number is a nine-digit number assigned to businesses by Dun & Bradstreet―a business credit bureau.

Your DUNS number is tied to your Dun & Bradstreet business credit profile. Lenders use your DUNS number to identify your business and check your Dun & Bradstreet business credit history and credit score (called your Paydex score).

What is a DUNS number used for?

When you apply for business credit, many lenders will want to check your business credit score and credit history. This helps them decide whether or not to lend to you.

So during your loan, credit card, or trade credit application, you may have to provide your DUNS number. That way, the lender can look up your business’s credit profile.

Lenders also use your DUNS number to report your borrowing activity to Dun & Bradstreet. Things like loan payments, credit lines, and other important credit activity will show up on your Dun & Bradstreet credit report.

Who needs a DUNS number?

If you have a small business, you probably should get a DUNS number for that business. You may not need business credit for something like a business loan right now, but you never know if you will need it in the future.

And since DUNS numbers take a while to get, it’s better to prepare for a potential credit need by applying for your DUNS number now, before you need it.

Does an individual need a DUNS number?

Individuals don’t need DUNS numbers, since only businesses get DUNS numbers―not individuals.

Do I need a DUNS number to apply for business credit?

You don’t always need a DUNS number to apply for business credit, but sometimes you will. Plenty of lenders, credit card companies, and trade credit providers ask for your DUNS number as part of your credit application.

That said, online lenders (like BlueVine) don’t always ask for a DUNS number. While you don’t need to have a DUNS number to get business credit, it definitely won’t hurt.

DUNS numbers vs. EIN

DUNS numbers and EINs (employer identification numbers) are both numbers used to identify your business. But they’re not the same thing.

Your DUNS number gets assigned by Dun & Bradstreet. It identifies your business within Dun & Bradstreet’s business credit bureau. That means it’s used to track your business credit activity.

Your EIN, on the other hand, gets assigned by the IRS. It’s mostly for tax reporting―but that still means that business lenders, the IRS, and other entities will ask for your EIN.

If you employ anyone, you need an EIN. But you don’t necessarily need a DUNS number for anything but business credit checks. That’s why most businesses have an EIN―but they don’t all have DUNS numbers.

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The takeaway

You can get a DUNS number by applying for one on Dun & Bradstreet’s website. The process can take anywhere from a few days to one month, so make sure you apply for a DUNS number well before you need one.

Once you have a DUNS number, you’ll use it to identify your business on business credit applications. Lenders will use your number to look you up, make lending decisions, and report your business credit activity.

So when you have a DUNS number, be sure to keep an eye on your business credit profile.

Once you’ve got your DUNS number, start building your business credit (and increasing your buying power) with one of the best small-business credit cards.

Related reading

DUNS number FAQ

How much does a DUNS number cost?

Getting a DUNS number doesn’t cost anything―but if you pay for Dun & Bradstreet credit monitoring, you can get your DUNS number sooner.

Is DUNS the same as an EIN number?

No, a DUNS number is not the same as an EIN number. A DUNS number is assigned by Dun & Bradstreet and gets used to track your business credit history. An EIN number (employee identification number) gets assigned by the IRS and is used for various tax reporting purposes.

Where can I find my DUNS number?

You can find your DUNS number on the Dun & Bradstreet website using the DUNS Number Lookup.

Can you get a loan with a DUNS number?

Yes, a DUNS number will help you get a business loan. Leaders may ask for other identifying information too, though, like your EIN.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Chloe Goodshore
Written by
Chloe Goodshore
Chloe covers business financing and loans for Business.org. She has worked with many small businesses over the past 10 years, from video game stores to law firms. Those years watching frustrated business owners try to sift through their many options gave her a passion for breaking down complex business topics. She wants to help business owners spend less time agonizing over their businesses so they can spend more time running them.
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