The DUNS number, short for Data Universal Numbering System, is a nine-digit number associated with business reporting. In this post, we are going to clear up any confusion around the DUNS number and look at how you can get yours. Let’s get started.
What is the DUNS number?
Conceived in 1963 by business data specialists Dun & Bradstreet, the DUNS number (sometimes written as D-U-N-S number) is a globally recognised unique identifier for businesses that is ‘used as the starting point for any company’s Live Business Identity, the most comprehensive and continually updated view of any company in the Data Cloud.’
In layman’s terms, it’s all about doing due diligence. The number is used by lenders and other businesses (such as potential partners) to gain insight into a business’s key information and ascertain how financially reliable it is.
The DUNS number should be considered from two perspectives:
1. Being used by other businesses to complete a check on you
This can be done by any business that subscribes to Dun & Bradstreet’s services and has, or may soon have, a vested interest in your operation.
For example, they are considering giving you a loan or offering you a large contract.
2. Checking another business’s number
If you subscribe to a Dun & Bradstreet service, you too can use another business’s DUNS number to complete a check on them.
For example, you’re considering partnering up with another company or are about to accept a large order from a new client.
What information can someone see with a DUNS number?
It allows the person completing the check to see a business’s credit file, which is typically made up of the following information:
- ‘Firmographic data’ – Such as the company name, company addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
- ‘Corporate family relationships’ – Information on different branches and subsidiaries of the business.
- ‘Scores and ratings’ – Associated with the financial health of the business.
Do I need a DUNS number?
Ultimately it depends on the scale of your business and your growth plans.
Large businesses and public sector bodies will often request your DUNS number when looking to work with you, particularly if they are based internationally.
Although there are multiple ways for a business to complete a check on another business, the DUNS number is the most globally recognised avenue for doing this (Dun & Bradstreet state that there are currently ‘500 Million D-U-N-S Numbers (and Counting)’.
Just by having this number, you can give the impression of an ambitious company with global aspirations.
How do I get a DUNS number?
If you are the owner of a UK limited company (and so registered with Companies House), getting your DUNS number is extremely easy. All you need to do is:
- Visit the ‘Number Lookup’ tool
- Enter your company name, town, and postcode (of the registered office address), or enter the company registration number
- You will be presented with the company name and registered office address – confirm that the information is correct
- Enter your name, and email address and select ‘Submit’
- You will be emailed your DUNS number
Can I use the ‘DUNS Number Lookup’ tool to get another company’s DUNS number?
Yes, the tool advises that you can use it to ‘Look up a partner’s company or find your company’s D‑U‑N‑S Number’. Simply follow the steps outlined above if you wish to look up another company’s number.
Can sole traders get one?
Yes, it is possible for sole traders to get a DUNS number. If you are a sole trader you can apply for your DUNS number here.
How much does it cost?
Good news… looking up and getting your DUNS number is completely free.
My business is not based in the UK, can I still get a DUNS number?
Yes. As mentioned, it is very much used globally. For instructions on retrieving a DUNS number for your non-UK based business, see the ‘How do I request an international DUNS number?’ question here and then select the country that you are based.
So there you have it…
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. We hope we have cleared up any confusion around this number, and that you now know how to go about getting yours.
If you still have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and we’ll get in touch as soon as possible.