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Apple's Company Registration for its App Store is Awkward and Awful (sam-dunne.com)
111 points by samdunne 1757 days ago | hide | past | web | 81 comments | favorite

Cough cough http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/pages/CCRSearch.jsp sputter sputter ahem free one business day cough do this before submitting to Apple cough D&B is basically extortion

For what it's worth, I was sent the URL above on a wink wink hush hush basis by a large EV SSL certificate issuer. We needed a cert for our non-US company, but they wanted a DUNS number. Nobody outside the US actually uses DUNS numbers (I don't care what D&B says). So yeah, that URL gives you a DUNS number for free within 1 business day, paid for by the US Government.

The above link pitches its offer as being for companies that do business with the US government. Does your business actually have to be engaged in a government contract, or can it be on a "we might respond to an RFQ someday" basis?

The latter. :)

> Nobody outside the US actually uses DUNS numbers

As far as I can recall I think all UK Ltd's get a DUNs number automatically?

That's only because D&B have to look like their existence is necessary. So they just trawl for new entries at companies house and auto-generate the entry in their DB.

They're not the only ones though.

My story with DUNS number for my startup:

Long time ago when I applied for a merchant account for my startup, I was asked for a DUNS number, I and decided to get one. After filling out online application, and a long wait, I got it, and started to put it everywhere where I was asked for it. I don't think DUNS did any check on my company before giving the number to me, and I couldn't see what's on my profile, since I never paid them. Anyway, I got my merchant account.

After several years in startup operation when I tried to raise some capital, one of potential investors told me that with such bad credit history for my company, I will not be able to raise any capital. I asked him where he checked my company's credit history, and he told me that he checked on D&B. I told him that I can't check myself, and I can't see what is the problem, and after he emailed me my report from D&B, and was in shock after I read it :) Report is broken down in many sections, and my report was something linke this: Partnerships in the industry: None Revenue: None Bank accounts: None And so on... And so on... At the the end of the report: Credit level: $800

:) and we were doing like 300K in revenues already, growing fast, and didn't even expected that people trusting them and looking up info on companies there.

I decided to become a good D&B citizen, since so many people trust them. So, I called them up, and asked why information about my company is so wrong there, and they told me that I need to pay, and they will "fix" my profile. After paying, and sending them a list of industry partners, IRS reports, and started to wait.

After few months, I called them up, and they told me that they tried to call my partners from my list, and no one was able to confirm that they work with me.

Anyway, when I realized that my profile will never be in a good standing, I asked them to take it down completely, and remove my company from their database. After talking, to one supervisor, and them to the other, they agree to take it down.

But the final funny part, is that when I checked my profile online, it stated that "CEO called and reported that company is closing down" :)))

This seems to go beyond incompetence and into outright extortion and fraud. They caused you material harm by misrepresenting you. They wouldn't fix their information even after they were informed that it's wrong, making it willful, and tried to collect money from you to stop lying about you. I'm frankly surprised they haven't been sued into the ground yet.

Looks like a business ripe for disruption, too -- ripe to the point of rottenness.

ddon, I think D&B deserves a class-action lawsuit from all who have been wronged by them here.

Usually even when you have a DUNS number, Apple demands that some of the company entity codes are filled in correctly. D&B will usually offer to fix them for you in a month or take $200+ to do it faster.

The process that takes a month can be done over the phone or online but frequently D&B simply stops processing mid-correction and abandons the update. The process will be abandoned silently for a couple weeks, then you'll get calls offering once again to update for a fee.

It took me three months to register with Apple. And that was for an ordinary plain vanilla US domestic corporation.

Same story for my US company as well. First applied to the Dev Program August 1st, finally got in December 18th.

3 calls to Apple - all good, quality support, but basically the ball was always placed in D&B’s court . That was ~10 calls to D&B all of which were horrible. Definitely hang up and call again when told to call again told something can’t be done in the system - It obviously can be if Apple demands that it to be done.

The month lag time for changes is the real killer - particular when D&B always says everything is fine.


One of the more fun incidents was when they altered the corporation to my personal name, as a sole proprietor after I’d called to get the LLC added to the end of the Corp’s name. Of course I didn’t find out for a month, as they claimed they’d done exactly what I’d wanted, and their web UI’s been broken for us ½ the time.

That incident is permanently in the corporate history now as though it really happened. Not worth fixing though.

Very similar experience. Started the enrollment process end of October this year. Got a DUNS number November 1st. But I didn't get the green light to actually register until December 26. That was after 2 phone calls to Apple + 2 phone calls to D&B + countless times making updates (and waiting for email confirmations) using the D&B iUpdate system. Always seemed like one company was ready to put the ball in other company's court.

Now I'm idling because you need to signup separately for iTunes Connect. After 5x times getting the same error ("Your Apple ID isn't authorized for iTunes Connect"), I contacted Appple Dev Support. Their response: iTunes Connect is down for scheduled maintenance thru Dec. 28th. Uh, then why didn't the error message say that? Or a sidebar? Or alert?

Definitely feels like I'm in One Infinite Loop

FWIW, I had to make a change to my D&B number (LLC, address, business codes), and it took just a couple business days to finish (I believe I remember receiving a phone call from them to "verify" some of it). (I already had a D&B number that they must have assigned to me at some point as I have been doing business for years.)

I was then able to register for an Apple iOS Enterprise account (in addition to a normal Business account) in a little over a week (and it only took that long because I missed an e-mail from them where they asked me to call them and finish the process: I probably would have had it done in four days).

Was there something particularly onerous or even simply "out of the ordinary" about the kinds of changes you were making? There seem to be a lot of horror stories posted here about this process, but that isn't everyone's experience, so I'm hoping to find out if it is just "they are highly variable, so it's like hitting the lottery" or if there are specific things people might hit that are hopefully-avoidable landmines in the process.

(BTW, I highly recommend, totally unrelated to this thread, jonhendry's comment below[1] re the goal of D&B.)

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4979182

Actually I just went through this same process recently and found that if you apply using the link on Apple's site, you can get the DUNS number for free within 5 days. Follow this form: https://developer.apple.com/ios/enroll/dunsLookupForm.action

I explained the full process at http://blog.metamorphium.com/2012/12/03/apple-duns/

It's sad that this whole process isn't more transparent and easy though.

Awesome! I requested a DUNS number a couple weeks ago and planned on just waiting it out, but it looks like Apple already has my number after all. Thanks for the link.

How long has it been a requirement that any Apple Developer Program business membership requires a DUNS number? I thought that was only a requirement for their enterprise program, but apparently they now require a DUNS number for even the $99 business membership.

When I opened a business membership in early 2011, I only needed to send Apple the incorporation certificate from my secretary of state. It took a week for Apple to process it, if that long.

They started requiring it earlier this year. In Brazil D&B asks for 60 WORKING DAYS!!!!


Boa tarde,

Confirmo o recebimento do formulário preenchido. Em 60 dias úteis o duns number será disponibilizado.

Make it a Great Day!

Juliana Silva

Dun & Bradstreet do Brasil Ltda.

When I have set up my (UK) employer's Developer Program account around March 2011, they have definitely asked for a DUNS number. We already had one fortunately. The whole process took about 3-4 weeks. It seems to me that unlike individual accounts that typically get registered well within 24 hours, it's wise to expect a corporate membership registration to take at least 30 days.


I made a formal complaint to authorities about this.

I don't think that in many jurisdictions it would be illegal.

It's certainly not illegal for a company to set criteria for which suppliers it will do business with: for example, "we'll only work with ISO9001 certified companies". Is this any different?

I'd be interested to hear more about why this practice is illegal in Brazil, especially as you say it could lead to a prison sentence (which seems odd for what should be a civil case). Is there case law or statute available for someone interested in such things to browse?

Those matters are federal, no such thing as 'jurisdiction'.


You just linked to an article that dismisses your initial claim:

> Most economists now would agree on three fundamentals. First, tying is a pervasive practice that, in many instances, gives rise to substantial efficiencies, particularly when it takes the form of product integration. Second, the circumstances in which tying would lead to anticompetitive effects are very restricted. And third, not only are those conditions hard to verify, but also any attempt to balance efficiency gains against possible anticompetitive effects will prove a complex exercise.

You got a part where they are talking about products that are bundled together but belongs to the same company.

Like a selling a laptop with a mouse included.

The whole comment is wrapped in anti-trust which doesn't even apply in this situation. The notion that someone should/could go to jail for a policy that is inconvenient, is hyperbolic.

Apple wants a DUNS number because they are taking on some fraud risk and want a company identifier for credit history and to reduce the risk they are dealing with scammers. Seems pretty reasonable.

They are not requiring a credit rating (which is offered by many companies) They want a service from a specific company.

Edit: someone would go to jail after not complying with some court order. Example: google VP in brazil went to jail earlier this year for not taking down a youtube video. Those orders may come way before an actual trial

They used D&B because D&B has by far the largest international database of businesses, and DUNS numbers have been around since the 60s. Many government agencies internationally require DUNS numbers if you want to do business with them.

It's something of an entrenched international standard. Most likely nobody wants to have to deal with multiple database companies, or a competing database with big gaps in its coverage compared to DNB.

At least it's free, even if they attempt to charge a premium for faster service.

While I admit to only skimming that link, all the examples I read discussed a single company tying purchase of one of their products to one of their other products.

Apple does not sell DUNS numbers, as they are not Dun & Bradstreet.

It also mentioned the anticompetitive nature of tying a weak/new product to a stronger one. DUNS numbers are not new or esoteric (although I do think of them as being old-fashioned and enterprisey).

So, I struggle with the notion that this could be illegal, but I'd be fascinated to learn more about it.

Sure is developer hostile and counter-productive, though.

Tying is illegal in the US. The question is 'is that tying?'.

The answer is: yes. The only way this is not tying is by bundling the service: apple would provide the number for you without charging.

But then, D&B competitors could say this is a trust case.

To really solve this apple must offer a list of companies that offer the solution for whatever numbering problem they seem to have. Or just drop the requirement.

Apple can't provide the number. It's not their database.

The number itself isn't the issue, it's what it represents: that your business is recorded in a large and reputable database of international businesses that is in widespread use by companies and governments.

D&B database is widespread in the US, not internationally. In fact, I own a credit card company/bank and never heard of them until I needed their number. Their database is large because they are filling it, not because companies request.

In fact, S&P and Moody's are the only ratings/registry that can get you anywhere in the banking system.

You are a hero. I wish you well. Let me know how you get on

If I'm not mistaken, this is the same issue run into by the creators of Trifecta: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4896805

> While we were ready to submit Trifecta at the beginning of November, we ran into issues due to how hard Apple makes it for a pair of developers to release an app together. To do so and have both of us credited we had to form a company (R&K Labs) and obtain a D.U.N.s number which took us a month.

Getting the free DUNS number is awkward and awful even in the US. D&B calls you about 24 hours after you place your order and tries to sign you to a paid package (perhaps suggesting that the free DUNS is no good for the AppStore). Once you refuse they let you wait -- supposedly for 30 business days, but you can wait a lifetime since they don't bother contacting you again. The DUNS number gets silently issued after 30 business days with no phone call or email notification.

I just went through this process and it seemed like a scam. After registering I got a sales call where they pushed the $300 package, suggesting that it would take over a month to get set up with Apple if I did not purchase it. When I refused, they had the audacity to say I should reconsider purchasing when I could afford it.

I registered on iupdate.dnb.com and only paid $50 to expedite the request for a DUNS number. The entire process was complete in a week and we were approved by Apple.

I tried signing up for a company account too and it was so bad I gave up. I already had a DUNS number (I never applied for one, I just searched the D&B website, found my company, and they emailed it to me). The problem was that D&B had my company registered in the wrong country. After I changed it with them Apple's country information information was still incorrect. After a couple of months trying to get it sorted, even speaking with Apple via email, I gave up and registered an individual account instead. I figured it might be easier to upgrade from individual to company (although I haven't tried yet).

I had a client with the same issues. The company account is still pending after 4 months of e-mails and phone calls; in the meantime they are using an individual account to publish. It doesn't follow Apple's rules, but it's either that or no apps.

I recently ran into an issue with D&B misspelling our company name. This was a massive hassle and I made over 6 phone calls to them and they kept on saying there was one more thing that had to be updated and it would be another 7-14 days. Each time I only found out that the update was not complete because I would call Apple to figure out why the iTunes Connect account was locked.

I finally got fed up and sent this tweet: https://twitter.com/sjsivak/status/276826269377765376. They called me the next morning and fixed it that day.

What strikes me the most is the US Gov. asking this number from US companies.

There is no excuse for the US Gov not having an updated registry of all companies in the country. In fact, I'm pretty sure IRS should have that. So, why the hell is that number required anyways? Even if the number is somehow necessary, Why d&b? Was there an auction at least? I doubt it.

I'm surprised that sometimes americans accept that kind of crap from their Government (executive) and large corporations (apple) without using Judiciary services. You don't always need money and/or lawyers to protect yourself from your government.

The US Gov also asks for the number they do have, the EIN.

"Why d&b"

Because it's the biggest database, and is international in scope. A local company providing services to a US Embassy or military base overseas is probably in the DUNS database, but probably wouldn't be in a smaller or US-focused database.

DUNS numbers are a common requirement when doing business or dealing with government for loans or contracts. That's why D&B has 150 million companies in their database.

Established businesses aren't going to have any hardship with Apple's requirement or the government's requirement, because they already have a DUNS number.

The only people for whom this is a problem are people just starting up app store-based businesses. But those are relatively few in the grand scheme of things, compared to the overall number of businesses getting DUNS numbers all the time.

But at least it's free, and mostly a one-time process, unlike getting your app submissions approved, or dealing with signing issues, or app guideline changes, etc.

Truthfully, the US government does a pretty poor job at tracking corporations. The Economist wrote a bunch of articles about how easy it is to set up untraceable shell companies in the United States. http://www.economist.com/node/21563286

I created my own company a while ago to sell mobile apps. You just print out form LLC-1 and form LLC-12 and mail them in, and you're done. Then just remember to pay taxes every year (or quarter), and nobody asks questions. Seriously, I could have claimed to be Ronald McDonald living on 1 Cheeseburger Avenue on those forms and I don't think they would have noticed (except it might have been harder for them to mail me the one piece of mail they did send). (I later dissolved the company after I lost interest in mobile apps.)

I assume that D&B makes at least a token effort to verify that you are a real person and actually sell something. USGov... doesn't.

By the way, please don't take my comments about how to create an LLC as legal advice. If you're serious about forming a company, you probably should consult a professional.

I filled in my details at this Apple page:


... and got my DUNS number emailed to me within 15 minutes.

Worth a try?

Isn't that a lookup form? So perhaps you had a DUNS number already?

Isn't that a lookup form? So perhaps you had a DUNS number already/

It's possible, I really don't know. I've been trading for 10 years so they probably assigned me one during that time. I never requested one before.

Not to be pedantic, but the title should be

Apple's Company Registration for its App Store is awkward and awful

Just move the apostrophe ahead. </grammar_nazi>

The author lives in Ireland. Hence he's most likely a native speaker.

Is it just me or do others also have the impression that it's mostly native speakers doing this incorrectly? Or are there some schools/conventions/… where "it's" is correct or at least an acceptable alternative?

In my experience, native speakers make a distinctly different class of mistakes from non-native speakers. Non-native speakers almost always learn the language formally in some sort of class, with a book and a curriculum. The mistakes tend to be simple memory failures, or incorrect analogies with their native languages. For example, a French-speaking person might say "rape the cheese" because "rape" is how you say "grate" in French, and they've forgotten that it's a false friend. Chinese speakers will say "he" instead of "she" a lot (or vice versa), because spoken Chinese doesn't distinguish and they're not used to tracking the sex of the subject. (Both totally real examples I've seen.)

Non-native speakers, on the other hand, learn the language informally, and they learn it spoken long before they learn it written. Really formal education in the language doesn't start until they're generally fluent. Thus you get mistakes like its/it's and your/you're and their/there/they're. Native speakers grew up with these as single words (it's all based on sound, after all!) and only later had to learn to distinguish them. Non-native speakers, on the other hand, were exposed to them as separate words from the start, and so don't typically mix them up.

Very good point. I had never done mistakes like these before moving to the US, and at the time English was not my primary language. A few years later, I make these mistakes more and more often.

I tend to blame this on the fact that, at the beginning, speech was less natural than writing (I was writing scientific articles before moving to the US) and I made several non-native-speaker mistakes (rape/grate and he/she) in writing. Now I am making fewer of these but increasingly more of the "it's/its" type, possibly due to speech becoming more of a natural act and therefore driving my writing. Because "it's" and "its" sound the same, I might overlook it in writing too. "Should of" and "should have" seem to fit in this case as well.

[Edit: last sentence]

My personal theory is that native speakers are so used to those words being similar that they don't care about the difference so much. For people who learned English later on it's/its are two completely different words. At least that's how I see it. I see native speakers confusing them much more often than foreigners I know. There's a similar issue with even more crazy mistakes... I've never seen a foreigner write "should of" ('ve) - but many people in Bristol do that all the time.

I live in Ireland, we dont really get taught a whole lot of grammar in school, or else I had terrible terrible teachers.

Answer: No, no one considers it correct, and if they do, they shouldn't!

I would like to mention that it always seems a bit dickish when someone bothers commenting saying 'hurr durr there's supposed to be an apostrophe here', no one knows if the author has dyslexia, or if he is in fact a native speaker (Legally, our native language isn't English btw, most people are only English speakers, but there is a tiny minority who aren't).


I don't understand why people get upset about these corrections. If I make a mistake, I'd rather be told than not. If the person making the correction is a jerk, sure, that's no good, but that wasn't the case here and usually isn't.

And many, many more grammatical errors in the article itself.

Japan's equivalent of D&B is TEIKOKU DATABANK or TDB[0]. These guys will come by the office and run through a multiple of questions -- if you don't answer them, they will be reflected in their database.

Whenever you get a call from TDB it is both scary and exciting because you know that some major Japanese corporation wants data on your current standing.

Also, registering for a DUNS number here in Japan is very simple because most of the information that they are after is already filed with the government in an easy to access format.

[0] http://www.tdb.co.jp/

For the Netherlands it seems straightforward (though I didn't have to get one): http://www.dbhnederland.nl/nieuws/16/d-u-n-s-nummer-voor-app...

Just call DBH, give them your company registration number, and they'll give you a DUNS number, or so it seems.

so many was done to get rid of microsoft claws, and not let one corporation to dictate technology.. and now that microsoft is becoming a zombie, a new lord (or should say lords) rises.. with its "app stores" corporate centric mentality.. and here we go again.. two tech titans now threat the survival of free technology and principles..

and that beast you cant fight back just with GPL licenses and free/open software.. this beast is cool and people love it.. :/

Related question: should I register for a DUNS number even though I don't need one right now?

We have a live app in the US app store, charge money for it, etc., and have never been asked for a DUNS, though I did note it was one of the requirements for an Apple enterprise developer account -- which we obviously don't have.

It seems like it takes time and hassle to get, and also like it could come up unexpectedly. Worth the trouble to start the ball rolling now?

I would. it is tedious and time consuming, but not necessarily a lot of effort. Just, as some of the comments imply, a lot of waiting. I can't see it hurting anything, as long as you have the time to fill out a silly form a couple of times.

I ran into many of the same issues, and my company is based in the USA and I was able to get a DUNS number fairly easily. I contrasted this with my experience with google play here: http://www.mooreds.com/wordpress/archives/890

I don't know why Apple makes getting an account so difficult.... Perhaps to filter out fly bynight mobile app developers?

Apple's general registration process is a POS. My mother had a new iPad out of the box (no prior Apple products). Between signing up for credentials on one screen, validating her email in a browser then entering billing information at entirely different screen that was seemingly unrelated to the first two screens, I am glad that I did it. Otherwise I am sure she would have become quickly disillusioned.

You can choose "skip this" at each of the initial prompts and have a completely functional iPad without registering for anything or entering any other information. Before iOS 5, you had to connect to iTunes on your PC or Mac but that is not required since then.

The first time you really will need an Apple ID is when you go download an App from the App Store (which will be soon enough :)). There also, if you choose an App which is free (like facebook) and you try to download, you will be prompted with a No Payment option to associate with your Apple ID which can can use to downlaod anything. The first time you buy something is when you will need payment information (credit card billing address etc.)

I got my DUNS number (Denmark) over the phone calling the local D&B - they were used to getting calls like that. Call the local D&B again http://www.dnb.co.uk/ or use the form http://salesmarketing.dnb.co.uk/find_my_company/ BTW, it's free to get the DUNS number

Marco Arment talked about this in some detail on Build and Analyze a while back. (Can't look up the EP number right now unfortunately, sorry)

Ok, I had time to check and it was apparently this ep. http://5by5.tv/buildanalyze/93

I'll have a listen thank you :)

D&B has an information page about the Apple developer program: http://support.dandb.com/entries/22065146-apple-developer-pr...

I just got off the phone after failing to find my company in their online database, and was told to email applecs@dnb.com to request my number.

When I applied for Apple developer program I was surprised to find that my company already had a DUNS number. I'm in Croatia. I guess it has to do with my company being active for more that 5 years, but I could be wrong.

I did this in the UK about 2 months ago, the entire process took about 4 hours.

I used the free option too - you have to scour the UK site for it, but its all there, and it was quick (in November anyway)

Im going through this entire process as we speak. Let me give you some pointers that I have learned over the last two days.

I have a company, which is filed as an LLC in Delaware, that has a DUNS number just through D&B doing their work. We have been around for over a year, so they must have picked us up at some point. However, all of the information was incomplete - they didnt know we were an LLC, who owned the company, etc etc.

This meant that when I tried to apply for a Company iOS Dev license, I hit the same problem you did. Apple's background check (done through D&B/DUNS), totally failed, and I was black listed.

I called Apple, they told me to sign up as an individual, and then do my work there while I update my DUNS information, at iupdate.dnb.com. Currently, I'm waiting the 15 days after updating to re-apply for Apple's business dev account, while the databases get in sync.

You DO NOT need to pay for a DUNs number, however, they obviously want to upsell you for expedited service. I wouldn't do it. They get paid a healthy sum from Apple every year, and you are not their client, Apple is.

Try to do whatever you are doing as an individual developer, get a hold of the DUNS number/update info, and ask Apple to upgrade your account after the fact.

Best of luck


I'm surprised -- i registered for a company developer account a few years ago and they only required me to fax the articles of incorporation. Have the rules changed since then?

This article is badly in need of an editor.

Writing has never been a strong skill of mine. Hence the very few blog postings

Don't worry, you got your message across. And blog more, it's a good way to get better :)

Thanks for the advice :). I didn't proof read it. Hence the 'it's'. Oh well, lesson number 1 I guess

Here's another tip: if you use a full stop at the end of your first sentences, don't forget to add one to the end of your last. Otherwise you'll remind me of Perl where semicolons are required to separate statements, but you may leave off the semicolon after the last statement.

Do they require DUNS numbers for non-us companies too? From the article it's not really clear.

They do.

Specially for non-US companies, I'd say.

I find the second apostrophe awkward and awful.

And if you live in a "obscure" country were they don't accept online payments you have to send them a Fax with all your credit card information... yeah, a fax! Even Amazon and Paypal accept online payments with my cc. I guess I am lucky they didn't ask for a telegram. So much for one of the biggest companies in the world.

A fax? Is that not breaking a data protection law?

Maybe? I just needed an iOS developer certificate. I lack resources to start an international lawsuit against them anyway.

My sentiments were exactly the same. OMG the f word :D

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