What Is a DUNS Number and What Is It Used For?

New suppliers may be unfamiliar with a DUNS number, its purpose, and how other businesses use it to partner with a supplier. As we will explain, the DUNS number is not only easy to obtain and use, but is required by businesses worldwide for research, growth, and potential new partnerships.

What Is a DUNS Number?

A DUNS number (Data Universal Numbering System number) is a unique nine-digit number that is recognized as the universal standard to track businesses worldwide. The DUNS number is designed to enhance the credibility of a business and enable suppliers, customers, and lenders to learn about a company.

Why Do I Need a DUNS Number?

The DUNS number is an identifier that is used worldwide. Its purpose is to help other entities access data and information about the business attached to the unique DUNS number.

Specifically, a DUNS number is attached to the Dun & Bradstreet business credit file of a company. This credit file can include basic company information (business name, address, phone number, etc.), data to evaluate the financial standing (good and poor) of a company, and corporate relationships (headquarters, branches, subsidiaries, etc.).

Companies like Walmart require a DUNS number during the supplier application process. To learn more about what Walmart requires prior to applying, check out our blog How to Sell to Walmart: Get Your Product in Walmart in 4 Steps.

What Is a DUNS Number Used For?

The purpose of obtaining a DUNS number serves to benefit the business and those it wishes to build potential partnerships. Common uses for a DUNS number include:

World-Wide Business ID

A DUNS number is acknowledged worldwide as a business identification standard. It not only identifies an individual business but also validates it to other companies and investors. To be given a DUNS number certifies that the company has gone through the Dun & Bradstreet vetting process. Having gone through this process, other companies and investors get the answers they need when deciding to enter into a partnership.

Business Data Identification

When it comes to identifying an individual business and all the data with it, the DUNS number is invaluable. It almost serves like a social security number for a business. What that means is there may be more than one Sam’s business in town, but the DUNS number distinguishes the Sam’s Wholesale Club from the Sam’s Furniture Store and the Sam’s Ribs and Chicken Restaurant.

A DUNS number is the unique identifier for all business data in a huge list. Using this unique identifier means a lengthy lookup is not needed. Researching and working with company data takes less time.

Business Partnerships

How does a company know if a fellow business or supplier is safe to join in a business venture? The DUNS number can serve as a “resume” to prove the reliability of a company’s finances and structure.

A potential business investor or partner can use a DUNS number to quickly assess a company’s credit history and financial health. It also supports the credibility and honesty of the company leasers. Without a DUNS number, there is no financial report card for potential partners to review. It makes the task of reviewing data on the company very difficult and questionable.

Bank Loans

Many businesses will apply for loans in the beginning or during periods of growth and expansion. A DUNS number is required from banks and lenders on business loan applications. The DUNS number is used to obtain the credit file of the applying company. Likewise, a DUNS number is required when applying for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Registration for Suppliers

This blog began by stressing one of the three application requirements for becoming a Walmart supplier is having a DUNS number. This requirement is not unique to Walmart.

Suppliers interested in partnering with other retailers, from grocery stores to car dealerships and clothing stores to electronics warehouses, will also require a DUNS number.

How to Get a DUNS Number

A DUNS number is issued by Dun & Bradstreet. Before applying, a business needs to ensure they do not already have a DUNS number. This can be done quickly by searching for the company in the Dun & Bradstreet DUNS Number Lookup Tool.

Once a company has verified they do not already have a DUNS number, they can apply at Dun & Bradstreet.

DUNS Numbers for Walmart Suppliers

When a new supplier is applying to do business with Walmart, they are given access to Walmart’s Supplier Onboarding checklist. The first three things Walmart asks a potential supplier to have are:

  • Company legal name
  • Company address
  • Company DUNS number

Obtaining a DUNS number can take less than 30 days. Suppliers are advised to secure a DUNS number before reaching out to Walmart to enter into a business agreement.


What is my DUNS number?

If a company is unsure if it has a DUNS number (or just needs to know what it is), it can verify by using the Dun & Bradstreet DUNS Number Lookup Tool.

What do I need for a DUNS number?

When applying for a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet, a business simply needs to provide the following:

  • Name of the organization
  • Physical business address
  • Business owner’s name
  • Legal structure
  • Date the company was formed
  • Nature of the business
  • Number of employees

How much does a DUNS number cost?

There is no charge to request a DUNS number. To have a DUNS number assigned to a business within a 30-day period, Dun & Bradstreet attached no fee.

How long does it take to get a DUNS number?

As stated above, a business can get a free DUNS number within a 30-day window. This process can be expedited for a fee as dictated by Dun & Bradstreet. Fees depend on the conditions of the request.

Does a DUNS number expire?

No, a company DUNS number will never expire. In fact, the DUNS number will remain attached to the company should the company go out of business.

Is a DUNS number the same as an EIN?

No. DUNS numbers are issued by Dun & Bradstreet as a business financial identifier. EIN (Employer Identification Numbers) are federal tax IDs issued by the IRS for tax purposes. Also, an EIN can change, while the DUNS number will always remain the same.

Is a DUNS number the same as a UEI?

No. Up until 2022, a person or business applying for a government contract or grant was required to have a DUNS number. As of April 4, 2022, the use of the DUNS number was eliminated by the federal government. The government is now requiring a UEI (Unique Entity Identifier) for clients applying for government contracts or grants. A DUNS Number is no longer acceptable for federal award identification.

Do I need a DUNS number for my LLC?

A business registered as an LLC may be required to have a DUNS number in order to partner or serve other businesses. A DUNS is not required simply because a business is an LLC; it may be required once entering into a partnership or service agreement.

Can a sole proprietor get a DUNS number?

Yes. Whether the business is a large corporation or a sole proprietor, all can apply for a DUNS number.

Can I use my DUNS number to apply for credit?

It is not enough to simply have a DUNS number to get a credit card for a business. A credit card for a business requires an Employer Identification Number (EIN).


Obtaining a DUNS number is one of the first steps for any supplier wanting to do business with Walmart. It is a small and easy part of the application process. What else does Walmart expect from potential suppliers? New applicants can approach Walmart fully prepared by reviewing our New Supplier Checklist.

Once Walmart gives a company the “yes,” that’s when the work begins! New suppliers that need help setting up with Walmart after their first approval can count on 8th & Walton during each step of the journey. A 15-minute consultation is free!