What is a DUNS number and Do I Need one?

DUNS stands for Data Universal Nunbering System. It was originally developed in 1963 by Dun & Bradstreet to help with their credit reporting practice.

Since then it has been adopted globally and is currently used in the European Commission, the United Nations and by the United States Government. The DUNS database currently has over 285 million commercial entries1.

How is a DUNS Number used?

A DUNS number is valuable to have when your company is trying to secure finance via a credit card or loan. Your company will have a D&B® business credit file logged in the DUNS database. This database will be referenced by potential lenders to help them work out your financial reliability and stability. Your credit file can also be accessed by potential partners who are making sure that your company is legitimate and financially stable before partnering with you.

Why would I want a DUNS number?

Because a DUNS number is recognised almost globally, it can help if you are planning to expand your company's reach into other countries. It can help to establish partnerships abroad and help to find funding sources in other countries.

Even if you have begun this process without a DUNS number, having one can increase your chances of securing renewed investment, increasing your loan amount or even negotiating better credit terms for future funding opportunities.

It can have an added benefit of making you appear more legitimate in the eyes of government bodies within and outside of your home country. In fact, in some countries, if your company was to apply for a government contract, you would first need to issue them with your DUNS number.

So, how do I get a DUNS number?

Getting a DUNS number is fairly straightforward if you have a registered company based in the UK or Ireland as all newly registered companies are automatically issued with their own DUNS number. Getting your number from Dun & Bradstreet is free of charge.

If your company is registered in the UK or Ireland but you are unsure of what it is then you can use the lookup feature on the Dun & Bradstreet website.

Even if your company is registered outside of the UK or Ireland it is still straightforward to get a DUNS number, all you have to do is request it through the Request a DUNS number section of the Dun & Bradstreet website. The process usually takes 5 working days.

You will need to supply the following information in order to apply:

  • Legal name
  • Headquarters name and address for your company
  • Doing Business As (DBA) or other name by which your company is known
  • Physical address
  • Mailing address (if separate from headquarters / physical address)
  • Phone number
  • Contact name and title
  • Number of employees at the physical location
  • Whether your company is based out of your home address

In conclusion, having a DUNS number can help you to negotiate better credit when it comes to your company. But also, some agencies may wish for you to have one in place before negotiating any contracts with your company. This can make a DUNS number very useful to have.


1. Information accessed 25/05/2018 from Dun & Bradstreet

D&B® is a registered trademark of Dun & Bradstreet.

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