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Businesses have many moving parts, and if you are just getting started, you may need a DUNS number. This 9-digit number can make it easier to get small business loans and other financial products that your company may need. This guide will cover how DUNS numbers work, which business owners need them the most, and how to get a DUNS number.

What is a DUNS number?

A DUNS number is an identifier for your business. Dun & Bradstreet, the company that gives out these numbers, is one of the three major business credit bureaus. DUNS is short for Data Universal Numbering System, and the number you receive will never expire. Once assigned, a DUNS number is not reissued or reassigned.

This number allows startups to build business credit history. Building business credit allows your company to qualify for better financial products and borrow more money. While you can use a personal loan to fund your business, this route has more limitations. Your financial institution may cap their personal loans at anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000. 

You can borrow more money with business loans. For instance, small businesses can borrow up to $5 million with an SBA 7(a) loan. Starting your business credit building journey with a DUNS number can put you in a better position when you apply for a business loan. 

Who needs a DUNS number?

Startup founders with no business credit need DUNS numbers the most. It’s free to get, so there isn’t any downside to getting your own 9-digit number. If you are getting started and plan on borrowing money through a business loan or a business credit card, you may want to get a DUNS number. Companies that already have EINs and good business credit history don’t have as much of a need for DUNS numbers.

Do I need a DUNS number for my LLC?

Technically, you don’t need a DUNS number for your LLC, but it's a good idea to get one. A DUNS number can put you on the path to building business credit. You can also use an EIN to build credit instead. If you take out a business credit card with an EIN and use that card regularly, you will build business credit. A DUNS number is a good stepping stone, but you’ll get more mileage out of an EIN number.

How to get a DUNS number

Before you begin the process of getting a DUNS number, it’s worth checking if your company already has one. The DUNS Number Lookup tool makes this process easy. You just have to provide your startup’s legal business name and a few other details to see if you have a DUNS number.

Business owners without DUNS numbers can visit the Dun & Bradstreet website to claim their number. You'll have to provide some basic details about your business, such as its legal structure, primary industry, and your company’s legal name. You may hear from a DUNS representative if they have any issues with verifying the information on your form. 

You only need one DUNS number if you are an online business or have a single location. However, businesses with multiple stores will need a DUNS number for each business location. 

Companies that need additional assistance can give Dun & Bradstreet a call at 1-866-990-5845. Email and live chat support are also available.

How long does it take to get a DUNS number?

The entire process takes about 30 business days, and you will receive your DUNS number in your email. Business owners can expedite the DUNS number application process and receive their 9-digit identifier within eight business days. However, an expedited delivery costs $229. Most business owners don’t need expedited DUNS numbers unless a time-sensitive grant or financial product requires that you have one.

How long does it take to build business credit?
It can take up to three years to build strong business credit. However, your timeframe will vary based on the financial products you use for your business, your payment history, and other factors. Making on-time payments early and often will put you in a better position when you need to access additional capital.

What’s the difference between a DUNS number and an EIN?

An EIN is required for any business and allows the IRS to identify your business for tax purposes. You’ll also have to use this number when applying for business loans and business credit cards. 

A DUNS number is used to identify your business for the purpose of credit reporting. It’s issued by Dun & Bradstreet, so if you want to build a credit history with that credit bureau, you’ll need to apply for a number.

It’s possible to use your EIN to get a business credit card and use that financial product to build business credit. Business owners can eventually access plenty of capital if they have an EIN but no DUNS number. However, LLCs and other non-sole proprietorships must have EINs for tax and identification purposes.

Can you receive a business credit card with a DUNS number?

You must provide an EIN number to receive a business credit card. While a DUNS number won’t hurt your chances of receiving a business credit card, it won’t help you either. You will even have to provide an EIN for a secured business credit card. Some business credit card issuers give sole proprietors business credit cards if they provide their Social Security Number.

What is a good business credit score?

Your business credit score ranges from 0–100. A business credit score between 80–100 is considered good, while a score between 50–79 is fair. Any score below a fair business credit score is viewed as a bad score. A DUNS number can jumpstart your path toward a good business credit score.

Build your business credit with the Ramp Corporate Card

A corporate card is one of the best ways to build business credit. Companies can use it for everyday business expenses and receive auto-generated reports at the end of their spending.

Ramp reports all of your startup’s payment history to the major business credit bureaus. Using the Ramp corporate card can improve your business credit score, and you’ll also save an average of 5% through cost-cutting features. 

You can issue any amount of Ramp corporate cards to your employees at no additional cost. Set custom spending limits and controls for cards given to workers.

You can see a free demo to discover if the Ramp Corporate Card is the right choice for your business. 

Try Ramp for free
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CPFC, Contributor Finance Writer
Marc Guberti is a certified personal finance counselor and a freelance writer. His work has been featured in US News & World Report, Newsweek, Fox Business, and other publications.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.


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