What Is a D&B D-U-N-S Number?


Quick Answer

The Dun and Bradstreet DUNS, or Data Universal Number System, number is a nine-digit unique number assigned to a company to establish a business credit file. It identifies business credit reports similar to the way that a Social Security number identifies individual credit reports.

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Full Answer

Created in 1963, the D&B DUNS numbering system identifies government entities, non-profit organizations, corporations, colleges and many other organizations. When businesses initiate applications for credit, lenders request a DUNS number to access the applicant's credit report and rating. To begin the process of applying for a government grant, organizations must also have a DUNS number. Once a business receives a DUNS number, the same number remains with the business throughout its existence, even during changes in corporate structure and bankruptcy.

Businesses apply for a DUNS number for free by accessing the application on the D&B website. The first step is to use the search engine to see if the business already has a DUNS number. If the search obtains no results, the business owner initiates an application by providing information such as the name and address of the organization, its legal structure, the name of the owner, the type of business and the number of employees. Once a file is created and a DUNS number assigned, the file converts from an incomplete or marketing file to an active business credit report when the owner adds at least three trade references.

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