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EIN vs. Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number

What’s the difference between your EIN and your D‑U‑N‑S® Number? Knowing can help you grow your business.

Business owners often confuse an EIN with a Dun & Bradstreet D‑U‑N‑S Number because they are both nine-digit numbers that help identify a business. Both numbers can also be obtained for free. One of the differences between the two is that a D‑U‑N‑S Number is affiliated with a company’s Live Business Identity (which is derived from the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud) and an EIN is not. A company is not issued a D‑U‑N‑S Number when it applies for an EIN, because EINs are issued by the IRS for tax purposes. Dun & Bradstreet issues a D‑U‑N‑S Number when it recognizes a business has been formed, and businesses often use the D‑U‑N‑S Number to access another company's Live Business Identity in order to learn more about the company in question.

Business owners often confuse an EIN with a D‑U‑N‑S Number because they are both nine-digit numbers that identify a business.
Amber Colley, Business Credit Expert and Director
 

What a D‑U‑N‑S Number Can Do for Your Business

If you’re interested in learning more about other businesses or managing your business portfolio, you can use either the D‑U‑N‑S Number or an EIN. Which one is best really depends on your business needs, and there are pros and cons to either approach. Here are a few things to remember when deciding:

 

The D‑U‑N‑S Number

  • Reflects a one-to-one relationship between the number and a business entity
  • Is persistent, consistent, and unique over the life of that entity
  • Can be assigned to certain sole proprietorships
  • Is only assigned to a valid business identity
  • Has global coverage

The EIN

  • Can change, which means it is not persistent or consistent over time
  • Does not necessarily reflect a one-to-one relationship between the number and a business (any given business can have many)
  • Is not required for all business entities, including sole proprietorships
  • Is US-centric (there are other tax IDs for other countries)
  • Requires less exhaustive validation before it can be issued than does a D‑U‑N‑S Number. The IRS issues an EIN based a business-information form, with verification resting primarily on the responsible party’s Social Security Number or existing EIN. Dun & Bradstreet will issue a D‑U‑N‑S Number only once it confirms a business’s existence through multiple sources

If you’re using the D‑U‑N‑S Number to monitor your business relationships, you can understand that the companies you work with or want to work with might also be using yours to assess your company. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t pay attention to their business credit scores and ratings, and their business credit file may not accurately reflect their credibility when their partners and prospects look at it. Getting a D‑U‑N‑S Number is the first step in joining the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud and building your business credit, and you can leverage a strong business credit file to help you get loans, contracts, and more. Here’s how getting a D‑U‑N‑S Number can benefit manufacturers, suppliers, and construction business owners, specifically:

The D‑U‑N‑S Number for Manufacturers

Since manufacturers work with other businesses, it can be important for them to convey their credibility to partners and potential partners. Manufacturers can benefit from building their business credit because:

  • They make goods for other companies and will be counted on by those companies to deliver what they have promised. A good business credit profile can help convey a manufacturer’s capabilities to a potential partner.
  • When signing contracts with other businesses, manufacturers will want to get good terms. If a manufacturer has an incomplete business credit report or has inaccurate information, it may not get the best terms or conditions (this can be true of bank loans as well).
  • A manufacturer may have opportunities to grow its business by winning more contracts or getting funding, and it can use its solid business credit profile to help accomplish that.

The D‑U‑N‑S Number for Suppliers

Suppliers can benefit from having a D‑U‑N‑S Number in many of the same ways that manufacturers can. Suppliers sell goods to wholesalers and retailers, government agencies, and other companies. The benefits of building business credit with a D‑U‑N‑S Number can be huge for suppliers:

  • Many retailers, especially big-box retailers, require their suppliers to have a D‑U‑N‑S Number. Walmart is a good example. Monitoring your business credit profile and keeping it up to date may help you influence your supplier score to match what some retailers may require.
  • Even companies that don’t require a specific supplier score may still be using suppliers’ business credit reports to help them make decisions.
  • A strong business credit profile may potentially help you get loans, which you may need in order to land or fulfill a contract. If you need funding in order to deliver on contracts with big-box retailers or government agencies, having a strong business credit report can help you look credible to banks and other lenders.

The D‑U‑N‑S Number for Construction Companies

Construction business owners can benefit from having a D‑U‑N‑S Number, too, and much like suppliers, contractors can benefit from building a business credit profile:

  • Since construction business owners make money by contracting with other organizations or individuals for services rather than goods, their credibility can influence how they are perceived by potential partners. The organization or individual hiring the construction company will want a reliable business, and good business credit scores and ratings can help convey reliability.
  • Construction business owners may also need funding to deliver on contracts. In construction, things can change quickly, and strong business credit may help you get loans necessary to make deadlines, buy critical supplies, and pay workers on time.

The D‑U‑N‑S Number can be a very effective way to track business relationships and is the only way to establish your own business’s Live Business Identity, which can help you demonstrate your company’s credibility. Having a D‑U‑N‑S Number can benefit all types of businesses, not just the three types of companies listed above – and it can be especially beneficial for B2B businesses or companies looking for a loan. To get started building your business credit right away, apply for an expedited D‑U‑N‑S Number to receive one in just five days. (You can get one expedited for free if you’re a government contractor.) Or go the standard route to receive one for free in up to 30 business days.

Already have a D‑U‑N‑S Number and ready to start impacting your business credit scores and ratings? Use CreditBuilder Plus to submit payment experiences to Dun & Bradstreet so you can help influence your report.*

If your company is interested in using the D‑U‑N‑S Number to track your business relationships, please take a look at our solutions for Finance professionals.

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