In case you do not read through this entire post (it’s quite long but very informative), the most important pieces of information to takeaway from this is that this process and its requirements are very black and white. Apple does not offer any flexibility. TLS coordinates the process on behalf of the merchant, as a courtesy, but cannot control whether Apple requests to speak with the merchant directly, or not. Your clients should be made aware of this possibility up front. At any moment, this process or its requirements may change due to Apple’s ever-changing guidelines. TLS will adapt as quickly as possible.
For any additional questions or assistance, please see Carleen or Mandi directly.
There are two types of developer accounts: Sole Proprietor (SP) and Business Entity (BE).
While a sole proprietor account is much easier to create and get approved by Apple, if a business is in fact a business entity, they should opt for a business entity account. BE accounts are much more complex and require additional information from the merchant. If the merchant simply does not have one of the items needed and are unable to obtain it, then we can fall back on a SP account. The main difference is how the App will show up in the App stores. See below.
The first set of images, Riverside Pizza, is a BE account. When you are simply searching for the App in iTunes and are given your search results, developer information is not visible (Image 1A). If you click on it to see further information about the App, that is when you will see developer information (Image 1B).
This second set of images, K2 Seafood, is a SP account. Again, when you are simply looking at your search results, you do not see this information (Image 2A). However, when clicking further into the App information, you see the business owner’s individual name (Image 2B).
There are two things to note about this. First, Some merchants simply do not want to or are not allowed for the App to show under their name and insist that it must be a business entity account. That is fine, but then they must provide every piece of information that Apple requires with 100% accuracy. There is no flexibility here. Secondly, for some larger corporate owned businesses such as Brixx, Sysco, Willie Jewell’s, etc, it may potentially raise a red flag with Apple if one of these were to be submitted under a SP account. This could result in Apple rejecting the SP account request for this reason, and requiring that it be submitted, correctly, as a BE account.
(NOTE: Once an account is purchased, there is no way to revert over to the other account type if the merchant changes their mind. This will require that the entire process be started over from scratch and the merchant will have to pay an additional $99)
Now that we know the two types of accounts, let’s go through the form that you will be giving to your clients.
This Form Must be Completed by the Owner
You may be wondering, and your client may be wondering as well, why does this form need to be submitted by the owner? There are three reasons:
- A SP account should be listed under the business owner’s name. If we set it up under Joe, the chef, and Joe gets fired or quits, the owner will not have access to the account if needed. Apple will not speak with anyone other than the account holder, regarding the account, so this creates a big mess.
- Also for SP accounts, Apple requires “proof of ownership” via an official document that shows that person’s name as the owner of that particular business.
- A BE account should be set up under the owner because Apple often times will require speaking with the person we’ve created the account under. In these cases, they often are requiring additional identity verification or other types of verification about the business, and no one other than the owner will have any knowledge or access to resolve. Because Apple will not speak with anyone other than the account holder, this again can create a big mess.
NOTE: It is very important to know and understand that the owner cannot give us the information on this form and then simply pass of the task to a staff member to deal with. It simply does not work that way. They will need to be readily available in case Apple requires their direct involvement. There is zero flexibility here.
Uploading their Driver’s License
Yes, this is required. Many times a merchant will ask why this is needed and may feel a bit uncomfortable providing this. This is, once again, another requirement of Apple and there is no way around it. All we do with this is submit it to Apple as a form of identity verification, along with their developer account request.
NOTE: The driver’s license cannot be expired. If they do not have a valid driver’s license, their basic government issued photo ID (not expired), will suffice.
Are you a sole proprietor or business entity?
If you select SP, you are done and the form can be submitted. If you select business entity, there you can see the additional information that Apple requires.
What is a DUNS number?
Per Google: The Data Universal Numbering System, abbreviated as DUNS or D-U-N-S, is a proprietary system developed and regulated by Dun & Bradstreet that assigns a unique numeric identifier, referred to as a “DUNS number” to a single business entity.
Legal entity names and DUNS numbers can be found here: https://www.dnb.com/duns-number/lookup.html if the merchant does not have this information at hand. If they don’t have a DUNS number and are insisting that they need a business entity account, they are able to obtain one through Dun & Bradstreet though there may be a fee. This is not a process we are able to assist with but here is the link to get them started: https://www.dnb.com/duns-number/get-a-duns.html. They will want to select their reason for their request as “I have a U.S. based business” (not I’m an Apple Developer).
NOTE: If they are a multi-location account, we only need this information for one of the locations.
Work Email (cannot be Yahoo, Gmail Hotmail or any other free email service provider)
Apple has many security features in place for identity verification. This is one of them. An email address by a free email service provider can be created by anyone, whereas a business email address essentially cannot. This is just another way for Apple to ensure that whomever is creating this account is a real person and is who they say they are. There is no flexibility here either. If the merchant says they do not have one, they can check where they have purchased their domain (such as Godaddy) or where they have their website hosted, and can often times obtain one through there as part of their subscription. If they simply do not have one and can’t get one, the only option is to proceed as a SP account. No exceptions.
Common questions or roadblocks:
I am a business entity and have a DUNS number, but Apple keeps telling me it is incorrect. Why?
- It is important to make sure that the business entity name and the DUNS number match 100% what is on file. Apple verifies this information and if there is even a space where there shouldn’t a space, it will get rejected.
- It is possible that their DUNS number was in fact created and assigned to the business but was never verified and activated by them. In other words, the merchant never completed the set-up process. They will have to contact D & B to resolve.
Find additional information here: DUNS#: Additional Info and Tips
Why does Apple need to speak with me directly?
When we submit your information to Apple, this rarely happens for SP accounts but is not impossible, Apple will review what was submitted and at times will have additional questions. In these cases, as mentioned previously, Apple will only speak with the account holder. TLS is unable to handle these communications for them. Apple almost always requires that this communication be handled over the phone at which point in time they will ask for identifiable information. It could be a simple issue that is easily resolved, or it could be a bit more complex to where the merchant must submit additional business documentation. We (TLS) have no way of predicting when this will happen, what the concern of Apple will be, and we are unable to handle this on behalf of the merchant. We will provide them with the information that Apple may ask initially, and the rest must be resolved on their own. We are of course here if the merchant needs us but cannot guarantee we can resolve the problem. Again, we can always fall back on a SP account as a last resort.
I’m too busy for this, can’t my assistant/employee/spouse (etc) handle this call with Apple?
Unfortunately, no. As mentioned, Apple will only speak with the account holder.
Can’t I just call Apple myself when I have time?
No. Apple does not have a phone number for developer account assistance. Calling any Apple customer service number will not lead to developer account assistance as this is a whole separate unit. When Apple requires a phone call with the merchant, the merchant must tell TLS a specific date/time that they will be available for an incoming phone call from Apple. It will have to be during TLS business hours because only TLS can submit this request to Apple. Apple is very good at calling almost on the minute of the request.
Apple never called me even though they claim that they did. What happened?
There have been a few instances of this. While we are unable to explain what may have happened, we do have a fall back that we’ve attempted a couple of times and it has been successful. Should this happen, we will intervene.
Can I switch my existing developer account to a business entity account? I don’t like my name showing.
It is not possible to change an existing account. The process will need started over from scratch and merchant will have to pay an additional $99 for the new account.
My App is for multiple locations. How much will my developer account cost?
Developer Accounts are $99 per account, not $99 per location. So, only $99.
Thank you for reading this post. If you have an additional questions, please see Carleen or Mandi.