The NPI is a unique, 10-digit, identification number for health care providers, practitioners, and suppliers of health care services. The NPI is an important means of demonstrating a viable workforce of qualified providers and practitioners to payors and other external stakeholders.
All credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners (RDNs and NDTRs) should have an individual NPI regardless of work environment, employment status, or whether claims are submitted to payers.
The NPI can be used everywhere, so if an individual works at more than one practice location or setting, that individual does not need to get two NPIs. An NPI does not expire or deactivate, unless the individual deactivates it.
Obtaining an NPI: Who
All health care providers who are HIPAA-covered entities, whether individuals or organizations, are required by law to obtain an NPI when transmitting electronic health information in connection with HIPAA standard transactions, even if a billing agency prepares the transaction. Even if the individual does not meet the criteria of a HIPAA-covered entity, the individual may still be required to obtain an NPI. And there are additional reasons why there is value in obtaining one.
NPI: What and Why
National Provider Identifiers are used in health care claims and may be tied to provider notes in electronic health records. Additionally, NPIs are used increasingly to match providers to data.
The NPI serves as a "digital footprint" that can enable better understanding of the care provided, including specific nutrition interventions, RDN attribution to patient care, and the evaluation and reporting of outcomes and quality measures. Health care trends suggest that the use and application of the NPI will grow as a result of changes in health care delivery and payment.
Types of NPIs
Individual NPI (Type 1)
The individual NPI is an important mechanism for demonstrating a viable workforce of RDN and NDTRs to external stakeholders, including public and private payors. It is intended for individuals. Businesses defined as a sole proprietorship, in which one person owns all the assets of the business and is solely liable for all debts on an individual basis, may also apply for a Type 1 NPI.
Key Points about Type 1 NPIs:
- Individuals may obtain only one Type 1 NPI.
- NPIs can indicate specialization. (See NPI Specialist Taxonomies, including taxonomies for all CDR Board Specialist Certifications)
- Individual NPIs can be tied to one or more tax identification numbers/employer identification number (EINs). (See below for more information on how to obtain a tax ID/EIN.)
- Individuals should update the information to reflect accurate taxonomies and location (e.g., if an NDTR becomes an RDN, the individual keeps the same NPI, but would update the taxonomy to remove NDTR and add RDN).
- NPIs are required for becoming credentialed with payers.
- To enroll as a Medicare provider, an individual must have an individual NPI. (For more information please refer to the Medicare Basics page.)
NPI Specialist Taxonomies
When applying for an NPI, a health care provider must select the taxonomy code(s) or code description(s) that most closely describes the provider's type. Healthcare Provider Taxonomy Codes are designed to categorize the type, classification, and/or specialization of health care providers. Individuals can select more than one taxonomy if applicable.
As of July 2019, specialist taxonomies are available for selection for RDNs who have obtained Commission on Dietetic Registration Board Certifications. RDNs should review and update their NPI information to make sure it is current and accurate and reflects any specialist taxonomies, if applicable.
The group of providers or individuals that includes RDNs and NDTRs is 'Dietary and Nutritional Service Providers.' In addition to selecting your provider classification, an individual can also select any and all specializations based on CDR Board Certified Specialties.
Dietary and Nutritional Service Providers:
- Dietetic Technician, Registered – 136A00000X
- Dietitian, Registered – 133V00000X
- Nutrition, Gerontological – 133VN11101X
- Nutrition, Metabolic – 133VN1006X
- Nutrition, Obesity and Weight Management – 133VN1201X
- Nutrition, Oncology – 133VN1301X
- Nutrition, Pediatric – 133VN1004X
- Nutrition, Pediatric, Critical Care – 133VN1401X
- Nutrition, Renal – 133VN1005X
- Nutrition, Sports Dietetics – 133VN1501X
Organizational NPI (Type 2)
The Organization NPI (Type 2) is for group practices. If an individual is a health care provider and is considering forming a group practice, or is incorporated, the indiviudal will need to obtain an NPI for the individual (Type 1) and an NPI for the organization or group practice (Type 2).
Obtain an NPI
The online application process for an individual NPI is quick, taking less than 30 minutes. Applications submitted online may be processed as quickly as 10 days; mail-in applications may take up to 60 days.
Before applying for an NPI number, individuals should search the NPI registry to confirm they do not already have one. It is possible that an employer, such as a hospital, may have obtained an NPI for the individual. The individual should be sure to search any previous names used professionally.
The individual will need his or her Social Security Number and license or registration number when applying. The individual will also need to determine which provider taxonomy codes will be selected.
- List of NPI taxonomy codes and definitions
- Fill out an NPI application online via the NPPES website
The NPPES (National Plan and Provider Enumeration System) website requires the individual set up a user name and password. This same user name and password can also be used if applying to become a Medicare provider via the PECOS website.
- Download an NPI application to send by mail
Additional NPI Resources:
- The Academy's NPI FAQ page
- NPPES Tips for Filling Out an NPI Application from CMS
- NPPES Tips to Expedite Your NPI Application from CMS
Employer Identification Number
In addition to an NPI, RDNs and NDTRs who are creating a new group or organization (i.e. group private practice, corporation or other business) may need to obtain a separate tax identification number for their practice or business. An employer identification number (EIN) or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), also known as a business tax ID, is a unique nine-digit number.
The EIN is the corporate equivalent to a Social Security number and is used when filing taxes for your business to protect your Social Security number from being disclosed on W-2s and in transactions, such as claims sent to health plans. If the individual is part of a group or organization, the group will already have an EIN.