- A Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) is a number issued by the System for Award Management (SAM) to identify businesses and other entities that do business with the federal government.
- The UEI has replaced the DUNS number as the authorized identifier for the federal government.
- Small business owners can obtain a UEI number directly from SAM.gov.
Any entity that does business with the federal government, from securing federal contracts to receiving federal funding, requires a unique identifier. As of April 2022, the federal government replaced the Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, issued by a third party, with a new business identifier, the Unique Entity Identifier (UEI), issued by the government itself.
This switch has implications for any entity that does business with the federal government, including small businesses seeking federal funding. Here, we will discuss how a UEI differs from a DUNS number, which businesses need a UEI and how to obtain one.
What is a UEI number?
A UEI number is the authoritative identification number provided by the U.S. government, used to identify businesses awarded federal grants, awards and contracts. It replaces the DUNS number and allows entities to obtain an authorized identifier directly from the System for Award Management (SAM) rather than through a third party.
All of the federal government's Integrated Award Environment (IAE) systems now use UEI numbers instead of DUNS numbers. This means any entity doing business with the federal government — or that has plans to do so in the future — is affected. This change also affects any business seeking federal funding, including small businesses applying for federal grants and federal awards.
Does my business need a UEI number?
Not all businesses need a UEI number. However, if you plan to pursue contracts with the federal government, you will need a UEI. Businesses must obtain a UEI to be eligible to receive federal grants and federal awards, including federal small business grants.
Is a UEI the same as a DUNS number?
A UEI is not the same as a DUNS number. While the two have a similar purpose — to serve as a unique identifier for businesses — several key differences distinguish the two from one another.
Dun and Bradstreet (D&B), an analytics company, creates and distributes DUNS numbers. The DUNS number is not simply an identification number — it is also linked to D&B’s scores and ratings. Lenders may use a business’s DUNS number to pull its credit report, for example, to decide whether to extend the business a loan.
In contrast, the federal government generates and distributes the UEI at SAM.gov. It is the authorized identifier for entities doing business with the federal government but may not be directly linked to a business's D&B credit ecosystem the same way a DUNS is. Receiving a UEI directly from the government streamlines the process of getting a direct identification number since it eliminates the need for a third party.
Do I still need a DUNS number?
While you will no longer use a DUNS number to identify your business when applying for federal grants or to bid on federal contracts, small business owners may find a DUNS number useful to have in other situations. Since an entity’s DUNS number is still used as an identifier within the D&B credit reporting system, having a DUNS number may be helpful when applying for credit, such as a new business credit card, line of credit or loan. If you’re a supplier, retailers might also request your DUNS number to learn more about your business before working with you.
In effect, this means many small businesses may have both a UEI and a DUNS number. However, the U.S. General Service Administration has warned that DUNS numbers may no longer be found in any SAM.gov searches. This doesn’t mean you won’t have your DUNS number; it just reflects that it’s no longer used within the government’s IAE.
How do I get a UEI number?
If your entity is already registered in SAM.gov, it has already been assigned a UEI number. Simply log in at SAM.gov to access it.
If you need to obtain a UEI at SAM.gov, you have two options to do so. Entities intending to bid on contracts or grants directly from the federal government should visit SAM.gov and choose “Register Entity” to receive a UEI. Those who would like a UEI for sub-award reporting should choose “Get Unique Entity ID.”
No matter which option you choose, you will need to provide information about your entity, including your legal business name and physical address — PO boxes are not accepted — and the date and state of incorporation. Those registering an entity also may be asked to provide the entity’s taxpayer identification number and financial banking information to set up electronic funds transfer (ETF), with additional documentation required for registrants intending to pursue government contracts.
|What Is the Entity Validation Service?|
|The Entity Validation Service is used to verify the uniqueness of an entity. SAM.gov will ensure there is no existing registration for the legal business name and physical address before issuing a UEI. Users who already have a UEI can visit SAM.gov to validate their entity information the next time they update their information or renew their entity registration.|
Where can I find my UEI?
To view your business's UEI, log in at SAM.gov and select the “Entities” widget to see the list of entities you have registered. The UEI is shown on the left-hand side of the list. From this list, you also will be able to see whether the entity registration record is up to date — and whether the registration is active — or if further validation is required.