The Data Universal Numbering System (D-U-N-S)
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The Data Universal Numbering System, abbreviated as DUNS or D-U-N-S is a system developed and regulated by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) which assigns a unique numeric identifier to a single business entity. This numeric identifier is then referred to as a DUNS number. It was introduced in 1963 to support D&B's credit reporting practice. It has gained wide acceptance globally and is a common standard. Its users include the European Commission, the United Nations and the United States government. It is recognized, recommended and/or required by more than 50 global, industry and trade associations. The DUNS database has over 57 million entries for businesses throughout the world.
The DUNS number is a nine-digit number issued by Dun & Bradstreet and assigned to each business location in the D&B database having a unique, separate, and distinct operation to businesses for the purpose of identifying them. The number as issued is random and the digits apparently have no significance as to their issuance. Until approximately December 2006, the DUNS number contained a Mod 10 check digit to support error detection. The check digit was discontinued to increase the inventory of DUNS numbers available for assignment by 800 million. There is no charge to obtain a DUNS number. When obtaining a DUNS number online, the wait can be as long as 30 days. When requesting a DUNS number by phone and paying an investigation fee, it is issued immediately.
Unlike the Employer identification number (EIN) issued by the Internal Revenue Service, a DUNS number may be issued to any business worldwide. Certain U.S. government agencies require that a vendor have a DUNS number as well as an EIN. Other agencies such as some United Nations offices and Australian government agencies require certain businesses to have a DUNS number. With this change, DUNS numbers are available to individuals; previously, DUNS numbers could only be obtained by corporations or other organizations.
A DUNS number is also a way in which separate corporate entities, which have no official relationship, can be branded as one unit by having one DUNS number for affiliated companies.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a United States federal agency, announced in the June 27, 2003 issue of the Federal Register (68 FR 38402) that a Dun and Bradstreet DUNS number will be required for all grant applicants for new or renewal awards on or after October 1, 2003. The DUNS number will supplement other identifiers, e.g. EIN, and will be required whether an applicant is using paper or electronic application processes.
A DUNS number is sometimes formatted with embedded dashes to promote readability, such as 15-048-3782. Modern usage typically omits dashes, and shows the number in the form 150483782 (this is the actual DUNS number of Dun and Bradstreet).
Numerous other business numbering systems exist independent of DUNS - for example the International Suppliers Network system. However, few, if any, have the volume of international businesses that are registered by DUNS.
The DUNS number replaced another coding system known as ACASS (Architect-Engineer Contract Administration Support System). The ACASS number was abolished when the ACASS system transitioned to a modernized platform on October 5th, 2005. The ACASS system now uses the DUNS number, in place of an ACASS number. Firms should supply their DUNS number, and notify the requester of the discontinuation of the ACASS number, when asked for their ACASS number.