a globally unique identifier

The number duns, or duns number in English, is a unique identifier assigned to companies that request it. Created by the agency Dun & Bradstreet, this numbering system is recognized worldwide. In this sense, it is a real asset for companies wishing to develop their activity abroad.‘International.

What is the number of D&B duns?

The DUNS code, a unique identifier

The number duns, acronym for Universal Data Numbering System (Universal Data Numbering System, in French), is a unique code that numerically identifies legal entities worldwide. It is usually compared to a series of international SIRET.

It is granted to commercial entities around the world that request it, as well as to their subsidiaries. This number is a tool to unify the different systems ofcompany identification.

The register consists of a sequence of nine digits, whose assignment is random. In that sense, the numbers are unrelated and have no special meaning. Therefore, they do not refer to a classification by country, by sector or even by company size, as some national identifiers do.

Where does this numbering system come from?

I’appraisal agency Dun & Bradstreet, also known as D&B, is the creator of this system. In fact, in 1962, he created the duns identifier, which is sometimes found under the name of D&B DUNS number.

This was then used for the agency’s own activities, its auditing and assessment work being facilitated by the assignment of a unique record to each company. Thus, initially, these numbers did not have international recognition. However, over time, the practice became more popular. Today, this numbering system is recognized worldwide and has become a standard. In particular, it has been used by more than 455 million companies established in 224 countries.

Thanks to this code, the information of companies from all over the world, registered in the system, is now accessible.

What is the duns code for?

What does the number duns contain?

The DUNS No. of a company allows any individual who wishes, professional or individual, to access a set of data concerning him, such as the name of the company or his financial health.

More specifically, some of this information is necessarily associated with the identifier and, therefore, will be accessible to all companies that have it. They understand :

  • The corporate name of the legal entity in question
  • Its legal form
  • Your headquarters address
  • Your financial and legal ties.

In addition, the duns number can give access to certain additional information about a company. We found in particular:

  • the names of the leaders
  • Your email address and phone number
  • The number of company employees
  • Fault indicators.

Please note that this additional data is not always available.

Duns number: what is it for?

Although not mandatory, the number of duns is especially useful for entities (companies, associations, states, etc.) that wish to develop on the international scene. Thanks to that world recognition, is in fact more relevant, at this level, than a national identifier, such as the SIREN number. For example, the UN, certain states or even GAFAM (acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) make use of this registry.

As it is based on a system that does not stop at the borders of a single country, the duns number facilitates access to company data. It also gives the possibility to obtain information about the financial situation of a company located in the United States.

Additionally, the identifier provides greater clarity among the numerous companies operating internationally. It makes it possible to avoid, or at least limit, possible confusion between companies that would have an identical corporate name. This makes it easier to find the right contact for a company, for example.

In addition, this code is a valuable aid to all companies working internationally with prospects, customers, partners or service providers. In particular, it allows you to better structure and beautify the Business to Business and Business to Customer databases, thus offering a more global view of all your interlocutors.

What are the benefits for companies?

In addition to practicality, the number duns brings a series of advantages to companies.

It is above all a guarantee of quality for companies. In fact, any company that has such an identifier will be subject to regular controls, making it possible to certify its reliability. A truly essential element for starting international partnerships.

Obtaining it also facilitates access to grants and loans banking and government agencies, and the number of duns is commonly requested from companies. It is also a means of access proposals international from some countries. For example, China, the United States or even Canada only collaborate with companies that have such registration.

In addition, the code reinforces the brand image and the fame of the company in the international scene, being the Dun & Bradstreet database recognized for its quality and seriousness.

Finally, the identifier simplifies any price negotiation with suppliers, as it attests to the reliability and solvency of the company that transports it.

How to get a Duns number in France?

Any company with a SIRET number can receive a duns number. To do this, she must first register the order with theDun & Bradstreet Agency, directly on the official website (dnb.com). On the dedicated page, the person responsible for the order will have to create an account for the company and provide information. In particular, it is requested:

  • the company name
  • Your headquarters contact details
  • Name, title and contact details of the applicant
  • The number of employees, company subsidiaries, etc.

It is also possible to speed up the allocation process by requesting registration with the authorized distributors by Dun & Bradstreet. Located in almost all countries, these distributors guarantee that the referred code will be obtained in a faster time than the agency.

Please note, however, that unlike the dnb.com website, the allocation request from distributors is a paid service.

(Photo credit: iStock)

Article written by


This text is published under the responsibility of its author. Its content does not in any way involve the Les Echos Solutions editorial team.

Leave a Comment