What is the Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)?

This post is part of our “What Is…?” explainer series, which also covers topics like block grants and budget narratives.

The Unique Entity Identifier, or the UEI, is the official name of the “new, non-proprietary identifier” that will replace the D-U-N-S® number beginning in December 2020, according to the General Services Administration (GSA). The UEI will be requested in, and assigned by, the System for Award Management (SAM.gov).

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How will the UEI be used by Federal Grant applicants?

Applicants can expect to use the UEI in the same way that they currently use their D-U-N-S® number. For example, with the upcoming March release, Grants.gov will be changing system fields that are currently labeled “DUNS” to “UEI”. (Applicants will continue using their D-U-N-S® number in this field until further notice.) Form fields will be updated to include UEI fields at a later time.

What’s the history of the identifier?

“The US Federal government has used services from Dun and Bradstreet to both identify (using the DUNS® number) and validate/verify federal contractors since 1978,” explains a resource page GSA created to answer questions about the upcoming UEI rollout. “In 1998, entities were required to get a DUNS number by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). In 2008, this requirement expanded to federal financial assistance, affecting over 630,000 public and private entities seeking federal contracts and/or grants.” The UEI is now set to take the place of the D-U-N-S® number.

Is anything changing besides the identifier?

While the official identifier for doing business with the U.S. Government is changing, GSA explains that the “definition of entity uniqueness is not changing”. Uniqueness is still “based on an entity being a separate legal entity and/or associated with a separate physical address.”

Currently, the uniqueness determination and entity validation services are provided by Duns and Bradstreet. GSA notes that the UEI’s entity validation services will be provided by Ernst & Young (EY).

Want to learn more?

For more information about the transition to UEI, visit gsa.gov/entityid.

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