What is a DUNS Number and How Do I Get One?

One of the first things a business needs to do in order to compete for government contracts is get a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet.  It is possible your business already has a DUNS number.  If not, you may be wondering what a D&B DUNS number is and how to go about getting one.

D&B is a credit reporting and risk management agency for businesses, similar to the way Equifax is a credit reporting agency for individuals.  Instead of using a Social Security number however, D&B issues a nine digit DUNS numbers to businesses who wish to be listed.  A DUNS number is required in order to complete SAM registration and be awarded government contracts.

While D&B delays the issuance of a DUNS number or charges a fee for non government purposes, it is completely free to get a DUNS number for US Federal government contracts or grants.  For government purposes, a DUNS number is typically activated within 24-48 hours after it has been requested.

Applying for a DUNS number is fairly simple, however applicants should take care to pay attention as they are applying since mistakes can be difficult and time consuming to correct.  First, D&B will request your business name and address so they may search their database for existing records.  If any records match your data, they will be displayed in the search results.  If none of the results are your business or no results are returned, you may request a new DUNS number.

DUNS number registrationWhen you click the link to request a new DUNS number, you’ll be redirected to a form you must fill out.  Take care to fill in all the information carefully and accurately; this is not a step you want to rush through.  If you make a mistake here, it can take several days and a lot of back and forth between you and D&B to change the information.  Nearly all the fields are required.

Once you’ve submitted your information, you’ll receive an email from D&B when a DUNS number has been issued.  When you receive your email confirming issuance of your DUNS number, be sure to look over the information they registered you under to ensure everything is correct.  Typically, it takes 24 – 48 hours for the number to be activated before you may use it to start your company’s SAM registration.


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