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How do you obtain a D&B number?

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Quick Answer

A business obtains a D&B number, commonly referred to as a Data Universal Numbering System or DUNS number, by submitting an application on the Dun & Bradstreet website, reports the U.S. Small Business Administration. The D&B number remains inactive until the business adds trade references to establish business credit.

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Full Answer

The first step in the application process is to enter the company's business name, city and state in the D&B search engine to find out if the company is already listed, according to Dun & Bradstreet. If the search comes up empty, the company most likely does not yet have a number and must apply for one. To obtain a DUNS number for free from the D&B website takes about 30 days, but companies can also opt to use a paid service that takes about five days, reports About.com. Companies receive a unique nine-digit number that identifies credit reports for the business, similar to the way Social Security numbers earmark personal credit reports, states the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Although assignment of the unique nine-digit DUNS number creates a file, it remains an incomplete marketing file until it receives trade reference data input, reports the U.S. Small Business Administration. Companies can report trade references by subscribing to a monitoring program or having suppliers report payment activity after credit applications. Creditors, suppliers, lenders and other business associates use credit profiles in the D&B database to assess a company's creditworthiness.

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