Dun and Bradstreet is arguably the most influential provider of business credit scores in the world. If you’re working to get your business on the credit map, recognized by banks and suppliers, and able to secure financing if you need it, it would make sense that you open a business file with D&B. (For more about D&B, how it works, and its credit scores you should know, check out Understanding D&B business credit scores.)
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article about opening a file with Dun and Bradstreet
- The D-U-N-S number
- Why you need a D-U-N-S number
- Where to check if your business has a D-U-N-S number
- How to apply for a D-U-N-S number if your business doesn’t have one
- What information you’ll need to apply for a D-U-N-S number
- Next steps to start building your business credit
Here’s how to go about creating a file with Dun and Bradstreet:
What is D&B’s D-U-N-S number?
Like a social security number for individuals, D&B has created a numbering system to keep track of businesses. It’s called a D-U-N-S number, which stands for a Data Universal Numbering System. The D-U-N-S number is a unique nine digit number that’s become a sort of standard business identifier internationally. D&B claims it uses the D-U-N-S number to maintain accurate and timely information on almost 300 million businesses around the world. The D-U-N-S number has become so important that the federal government and the Small Business Administration use it in their processes.
Unlike the employer identification number (EIN) that’s used by the IRS to identify U.S. businesses, the D-U-N-S number isn’t restricted by geography and can be issued to any business worldwide.
Why do you need a D-U-N-S number?
When a business partner reports your payment history to D&B, they will do so by using your D-U-N-S number. In essence, the D-U-N-S number is the backbone of your D&B file.
- Common identifier: There are hundreds of millions of small businesses around the world and the D-U-N-S number makes it easier to identify and pull information about a specific business. While many businesses share the same or similar names (like Main Street Flowers, for example), the D-U-N-S number is unique and with it, you can tell which Main Street Flowers you’re dealing with.
- The backbone of your D&B file: Everything that D&B learns about your business, gets added to your business file via your D-U-N-S number. Your physical address? D-U-N-S. Whether you paid your shipper on time last July? D-U-N-S. How many employees you have? D-U-N-S, too.
- (Some) business partners require D-U-N-S: If you want to apply for a tender with the U.S. government, you’ll need to use a D-U-N-S number in the application process. Same thing if you want assistance from the SBA. Companies like Apple and Walmart also require them now, too.
How to get a D-U-N-S number
D&B actually makes it pretty easy to apply for a D-U-N-S number if you don’t yet have one.
Check if you have a D-U-N-S number: If you’ve been in business for a few years and have worked with suppliers that report to D&B, it’s possible you have a credit file and a D-U-N-S number, even if you don’t know about it. To check, D&B provides a D-U-N-S Number Lookup. You can search by your company’s name and location or by your company phone number.
D-U-N-S numbers may be issued with or without dashes for readability: XX-XXX-XXXX or XXXXXXXXX.
If you don’t have a D-U-N-S number: If you don’t have a D-U-N-S number, it means you’re kind of unknown to D&B. So, it’s time to open a file and get known. D&B offers businesses a free way to apply for a D-U-N-S number. The process can take up to 30 business days and you’ll have a chance to provide more detailed information about your business for your D&B file, and you’ll be able to review and dispute inaccurate items on your business’ credit history.
What you’ll need to get a D-U-N-S number
The D-U-N-S number is a way for D&B and other businesses that work with it to identify your business. So, you’ll need the following information to open a file with Dun and Bradstreet and receive a D-U-N-S number:
- legal name
- business address
- mailing address (if different from your business address)
- telephone number
- contact name and position
- number of employees
- whether you’re a home-based business
Next steps for building your business credit file
Just having a D-U-N-S number doesn’t mean that you actually have a credit rating score. To start getting scored and improving your score, you’ll need to take some easy steps to build your business credit.
You’ll want to do things like open at least 3 accounts with suppliers who report to D&B. Opening a business credit card and taking out a business loan can help, as well.
Once you start building up some credit history, D&B will assign you a PAYDEX Score, which is one of the most popular credit scores out there. Scored from 1-100, PAYDEX looks at your business’ payment history over the past 12 months and how many of your bills were paid on time. If you’ve paid all your business bills on time, you’d receive a score of 80. To get higher than an 80, PAYDEX wants to see you pay your bills early.