Information on what a DUNS number is and how it can be used for your small business
Small business owners have likely heard of a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number at some point, but may not have one, or feel the need to get one. When deciding if a business needs a DUNS Number, it is important to understand what it is used for and how it could be beneficial.
What is a DUNS Number?
It is a nine-digit identification system assigned to businesses. DUNS numbers are used by lenders and potential business partners to help determine the reliability and financial stability of the company in question. It is similar to a social security number but must be requested directly from Dun & Bradstreet.
It should be noted that a DUNS number can be created for a business without its permission or knowledge if a third-party supplier or financial institution requests information about the business. Checking if your business already has a DUNS number is a great place to start. You can check whether you have a DUNS number and verify that your information is correct here.
Does a small business need a DUNS number?
A business that contracts with government agencies is required to have a DUNS number. A DUNS number is also useful for businesses that are planning to seek financing or grow their business to make it easy for lenders to understand a business’ credit history.
One thing to be aware of once a DUNS number is created is public findings, judgments, and bankruptcies will automatically be added to the business’ credit history. A business operating on credit terms with vendors or suppliers will likely need to report those transactions on their own for their credit history to reflect them, which Dun & Bradstreet may charge a fee to do.
There is no downside to creating a DUNS number and maintaining a basic credit profile. Even if your credit history uncovers negative information, suppliers and financial institutions want as much information as possible.