What it is:
A DUNS number (DUNS stands for Data Universal Numbering System) identifies a company.
How it works (Example):
Let's say Brad Smith of Tampa, Florida, owns a business called Brad's Bagels. Brad Johnson in Portland, Oregon, alsoa bagel shop called Brad's Bagels. They often buy things from the same bagel equipment supplier, and to avoid confusing the two, the bagel supplier asks them for their DUNS numbers when they place an order. By providing the DUNS number, the supplier can be sure of who is whom and communicate with the customers accordingly.
Dun & Bradstreet assigns DUNS numbers. Companies must provide basic information such as a legal name, headquarters address, a contact name, number of employees, and any other names under which the company does business. If a company has subsidiaries, each of those entities may have a DUNS number too. A DUNS number is never deleted or reassigned.
Companies that do business with the federal government often get DUNS numbers for free.
Why it Matters:
DUNS numbers are identifiers for companies large and small. More than 200 million businesses have one.