Go Back To News & Insights

Changes Coming Soon to DUNS

Computer keyboard
Photo credit: Hitarth Jadhav, Pexels
Jan 19, 2022

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is continuing a public campaign to share an important change that will occur in April 2022 and will affect federal awardees of all kinds. At a session on January 12, a repeat of a previous session in November 2021, GSA representatives described the background of the shift and provided information for stakeholders. 

As of April 4, 2022, the nine-digit so-called “DUNS number,” or Data Universal Numbering System number, will no longer be used in federal systems, and a new 12-digit alphanumeric code will take its place: the Unique Entity Identifier (SAM), or UEI (SAM). 

“It is important for all partners—potential and current—to understand the changes that will be happening and what actions they may need to take in response,” says Giorgi Baghishvili, Director of Finance & Operations for USAID’s Partnerships Incubator.

Most partners who have worked on USAID projects as subs or primes are familiar with the DUNS number, a code that has been assigned, owned, and managed by the firm Dun & Bradstreet. For those who are new to USAID and other federal systems, the DUNS number is the authoritative code that is unique to each organization and has been a required field in most of the registration and administrative processes associated with federal awards. 

The UEI (SAM) will replace the DUNS number. That transition has already begun and registered partners already have a UEI (SAM) assigned to them in, although the DUNS number remains the official identifier until April 4, 2022. 

Why Is This Change Occurring?

The GSA is replacing the DUNS number (nine-digit code) with the new UEI (SAM) (12-character alphanumeric) in order to help streamline the process for organizations wishing to do business with the federal government. The new UEI (SAM) will be part of the registration and validation process, and beginning April 4, 2022, registrants will no longer have to go to the third-party Dun & Bradstreet website to obtain their identifier, but would be prompted to start registration at

“It’s a positive step that these systems are being consolidated,” says Baghishvili. “Once the transition is complete, I believe this process will be easier for everyone. It will streamline and expedite the process of registration.”

What Does This Change Mean for USAID Partners?

This change will mean different things to different partners, and various paths were described at the session, depending on whether the organization is a sub or prime, and whether it is currently registered in or not. All organizations currently registered in have already been assigned their UEI (SAM) within the system. Please review the GSA’s website on the transition for more information.

For those not registered yet, this GSA video explains which organizations should undertake the full registration process and which may just need to obtain their UEI (SAM). The GSA notes that questions can be emailed to

The transition from DUNS to UEI (SAM) will not be complete until April 4, 2022. Before then, the most important thing current and potential partners can do is to educate themselves about the change and understand the steps their organization will need to take before April 4 to be ready. The good news is that extensive information is available on the GSA website and on, including an interactive decision tree

By putting in time now to learn about this important change, you will minimize disruptions to transactions related to your federal awards.