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The Data Universal Numbering System, abbreviated as DUNS or D-U-N-S, is a proprietary system developed and regulated by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) that assigns a unique numeric identifier, referred to as a "DUNS number" to a single business entity. It was introduced in 1963 to support D&B's credit reporting practice. It is a common standard worldwide. DUNS users include the European Commission, the United Nations and the United States government. More than 50 global, industry, and trade associations recognize, recommend, or require DUNS. The DUNS database contains over 100 million entries for businesses throughout the world.
The DUNS number is a nine-digit number, issued by D&B, assigned to each business location in the D&B database, having a unique, separate, and distinct operation for the purpose of identifying them. The DUNS number is random, and the digits have no apparent significance. Until approximately December 2006, the DUNS number contained a mod-10 check digit to support error detection. Discontinuing the check digit increased the inventory of available DUNS numbers by 800 million. There is no charge to obtain a DUNS number. When obtaining a DUNS number online, the wait is usually 30 business days. When purchasing the "Small Business Starter" from D&B the wait time reduces to 5 business days or less.
Unlike national employer identification numbers, 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 a U.S. Employer Identification Number (EIN). Other agencies, such as some United Nations offices and Australian government agencies, require certain businesses to have a DUNS number. DUNS numbers are now available to individuals; previously, DUNS numbers could only be obtained by corporations or other organizations.
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a United States federal agency, announced in the June 27, 2003 issue of the Federal Register (68 F.R. 38402) that a DUNS number would be required for all grant applicants for new or renewal awards submitted on or after October 1, 2003. The DUNS number is a supplement to other identifiers, such as the EIN, and is required whether the application is made electronically or on paper.
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 as in the form "150483782". The dashes are not part of D&B's official definition of the DUNS number.
Numerous other business-numbering systems exist independent of DUNS—for example, the International Suppliers Network system. However, few, if any, register as many international businesses as DUNS.
The DUNS number replaced another coding system known as ACASS. The ACASS number was abolished on October 5, 2005, when a modernized platform replaced the ACASS system. The ACASS system now uses the DUNS number, rather than the former ACASS number.