What is a Company DUNS Number

The purpose of a company’s D-U-N-S number is to make it easier for businesses to access reliable financial information. D-U-N-S numbers are issued by the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation (D&B). D&B is an American company that provides commercial data, analytics, and information for businesses in the US and around the world. In this article, we will explain more about D-U-N-S numbers, their purpose, whether you need one, and how to get one.

What is a company D-U-N-S number?

A company Data Universal Numbering System (D-U-N-S) number is a unique nine-digit identifier issued to companies by D&B. D&B first came up with the D-U-N-S number in the early 1960s as a way of uniquely identifying their own credit files. Since then, the system has evolved and grown and is now used widely around the world. In fact, D-U-N-S numbers are now used by more than 50 industry and trade associations internationally and are used by excess of 280 million businesses. 

Businesses and individuals use D-U-N-S numbers to access reliable and up-to-date information on businesses. Each D-U-N-S number links to a business credit file held and managed by D&B. The information held on the credit file is used by lenders and potential business partners to assess creditworthiness and reliability.

In the UK, a D-U-N-S number is especially important for internationally focused businesses aiming to engage in international trade, government contracts, and efficient supply chain management.

What is the importance of a D-U-N-S number?

D-U-N-S numbers are important because they provide business credibility and access to reliable financial information. 

Enhancing Business Credibility

D-U-N-S numbers can substantially enhance the credibility of businesses in the UK and around the world. Because it provides a universal way to identify businesses, it makes it much easier for potential partners, investors, and clients to check that a business is legitimate. This enhanced level of business credibility is especially beneficial for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to expand their operations and establish a strong presence in the international marketplace. 

Access to reliable and up-to-date financial information

With a D-U-N-S number, investors, businesses, clients, lenders, and prospective business partners can access a whole host of information on businesses around the world. This information includes payment history, legal filings, and operational data. This information is important because it enables interested parties around the globe to make informed decisions about dealing with businesses. For example, by assessing a company’s credit profile, a business may make a decision on whether to offer funding, invest, merge or purchase, or become a customer. 

The benefits of a D-U-N-S are as follows:

BenefitDescription
Business CredibilityEnhances trust and reliability among partners and clients.
Financial InsightsProvides access to detailed credit reports and scores.
International TradeFacilitates entry into global markets by providing a recognised standard of business identification.
Supply Chain ManagementEnsures a transparent and reliable supply chain by verifying supplier credentials.
Government ContractsEssential for many government procurement processes, ensuring fair and standardised vetting.

Do I Need a D-U-N-S Number?

Not all businesses in the UK require a D-U-N-S number. Whether you need a D-U-N-S number will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your business and whether you need access to finance. Other factors include your type of business, where you trade, and the type of contracts you provide. 

For small businesses and startups, a D-U-N-S number might not be necessary straight away but may become more important as the business grows. Getting a D-U-N-S number early can help your business build a positive credit history and establish credibility from the outset. This can be particularly useful when seeking investment or entering into contracts with larger organisations​.

For more established businesses, particularly those involved in international trade, a D-U-N-S number is more important. It helps to ensure that a business is viewed as credible and reliable by partners and clients. In addition, it provides confidence to suppliers and financial institutions that require a D-U-N-S number as part of their due diligence process​​.

For businesses entering into contracts with UK and overseas governments large corporations, a D-U-N-S number is highly recommended. In fact, a company’s D-U-N-S number is often a mandatory requirement for involvement in procurement processes, and it helps streamline the evaluation of potential contractors. 

In summary:

  • Getting a D-U-N-S number early may help small businesses and startups establish a strong credit rating early
  • Established businesses trading internationally will benefit from a D-U-N-S number
  • Businesses entering into large contracts will also benefit from a D-U-N-S number.

Why should I use a D-U-N-S number?

D-U-N-S numbers are used for several purposes, including improving supply chain management, getting credit reports, and securing contracts with large organisations and governments. 

Improving supply chain management

One of the main reasons to use a D-U-N-S number is for supply chain efficiency. This is because D-U-N-S numbers allow businesses around the world to easily verify the credentials of their suppliers and partners, ensuring a reliable and transparent supply chain. In turn, using D-U-N-S numbers reduces the risk of fraud and enhances the overall efficiency of business operations. 

Ultimately, businesses can check the D-U-N-S number of their suppliers to confirm their legitimacy and financial stability, which is essential for maintaining a smooth supply chain​. 

Securing government contracts

Many UK government agencies and large corporations require a D-U-N-S number as part of their vetting process for potential contractors and suppliers. This means that if you wish to bid for lucrative government contracts, you may be asked to provide your D-U-N-S to allow them to check the credentials of your business.  

Providing a D-U-N-S number ensures that businesses are evaluated based on a standardised set of criteria, which leads to a fairer and more transparent procurement process. 

Helps the flow of international trade

The use of the D-U-N-S number provides a standardised way to identify and evaluate businesses. This standardisation is important when it comes to international trade because different countries have varying business practices and regulatory requirements. The D-U-N-S number simplifies this process by providing a universally accepted business identifier.​ 

Credit reports and scores

D-U-N-S numbers allow businesses to generate detailed credit reports, which are crucial for securing loans and attracting investment. These reports include D&B scores and ratings, which provide insights into a business’s financial stability and operational performance. 

Having a strong credit profile can significantly enhance a business’s ability to secure financing. In addition, it can help businesses to negotiate more favourable terms with suppliers and partners​​.

Requesting D-U-N-S numbers for UK-registered companies

If you have a registered UK company, Companies House will have already provided the details of your company to D&B. In turn, D&B will have already created a D-U-N-S number for your company. As such, all you need to do is search for your number.

To find your D-U-N-S number, simply use the online D&B D‑U‑N‑S Number Lookup tool. You can then search using your company name, post town, and postcode, or your company registration number.

Once you have selected your company from the list provided, enter your name and email address. Your D-U-N-S number will then be emailed to you by D&B. 

Requesting D-U-N-S numbers for UK non-registered businesses

If your business is not registered with Companies House, you will need to request a D-U-N-S number on the D&B website. You will need to enter some basic information, including the following:

  • The legal name of your business
  • Your business address (Note: if you have multiple locations, apply for a separate D-U-N-S Number for each location)
  • Business phone number
  • The name of the business owner, president, or CEO
  • The legal structure of the business
  • The year the business was created
  • The primary business industry and
  • The total number of full- and part-time employees 

The application process is free. The standard processing time is 30 days, however, you can pay a small fee for an expedited D-U-N-S number within 30 business days. 

Managing your D-U-N-S number

It is important for businesses to keep their D-U-N-S information updated. Changes in business address, ownership, or financial status should be reported to D&B as soon as possible. 

Updating your D-U-N-S information will help to ensure that your business credit profile remains accurate and up-to-date. This, in turn, is crucial for maintaining credibility and securing new business opportunities. Regularly updating your information also helps prevent discrepancies that could negatively impact your business credit score​.

Providing updated information to D&B

If any of the information held about your business by D&B is incorrect, you can ask for this to be changed. Through the D&B data update webpage, you can change your:

  • Business address
  • Business email address
  • Business web address
  • Business phone number
  • Line/type of business and
  • Number of full-time employees.

Conclusion

A D-U-N-S number is an extremely useful and valuable asset for some UK businesses. It provides numerous benefits, including enhanced credibility, access to detailed financial information, and improved opportunities for international trade and government contracts. By understanding the importance of a D-U-N-S number and how to manage it effectively, businesses can leverage this tool to foster growth and achieve long-term commercial success.

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