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Steps to Applying to the 8(a) Program

Once you decide to apply for admittance in the SBA 8(a) Business Development program, you must gather the appropriate documents for your application. If you do not have supporting documents for your responses, SBA will return the application to you or decline it. Use this checklist to ensure you have everything that SBA will ask for to complete your application. Learn more about the SBA 8(a) application process.

Free Resources to Help You Apply

Application Steps 

1. View the SBA online course Pre 8(a) Business Development Program Module 1 - Setting Expectations.  This short module will help you decide whether the 8(a) program is the right choice for you and your firm.  It provides a program description, eligibility requirements and an overview of the application process.  The “Workbook” link on the page above also contains a PDF version of this module.  

2. Get official copies of all governing documents. Articles, licenses, permits, etc. must be current and approved by your state. You must check with your state about its requirements for doing business. Bylaws, operating agreements, stock certificates, etc., must be signed by you, the owners, the officers and directors. Check with your firm’s principals for the proper signatures and correct copies.

3. Get a free D-U-N-S number from Dunn and Bradstreet either online or by calling 1-866-705-5711. D-U-N-S numbers are unique nine-digit identification numbers for each physical location of your business. D-U-N-S numbers are  required to register with the federal government for contracts or grants.

4. Obtain a free Tax Identification Number (TIN)  or Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Learn more about filing and paying taxes

5. Create a profile in the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM). SAM is required for all firms seeking to do contracting with the federal government. SBA requires you to create a business profile in SAM to apply for SBA certifications. A SAM profile is also required for the  8(a) electronic application. Here's how to create a free SAM account:  

  • Go to SAM.gov
  • Click “Create User Account"
  • Click "Create User Account" under "Individual Account Details" 
  • Fill out the required fields

If you are having problems with EIN/TIN mismatches in SAM/CCR concerning your TIN/EIN, please contact the IRS at 1-866-255-0654 (Option 4). If you are having problems with TIN mismatches in SAM/CCR concerning your Social Security Number, please contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

6. Get a free SBA General Login System user ID. Here's how:  

  • Go to SBA's General Login System
  • On the left-hand side click on “Request SBA User ID”
  • Create your own User ID with the following criteria:
    • At least 8 characters long
    • Contains three of the four:
      • ​Lowercase letter
      • Uppercase letter
      • Number
      • Special character (except "&")
  • Complete the SBA General Login profile 
  • Scroll down to “Business Information” and add your business (EIN/TIN and DUNS number) – see Step 3 – and (DUNS number) Step 4 (TIN/EIN)
  • Click on the “Submit” button
  • Check for an email from gls@sba.gov (It will arrive immediately and contain your temporary password).
  • You must change the temporary password you receive from SBA (gls@sba.gov) within 24 hours of receipt.
    • If not changed within 24 hours, then you must request another, which takes several steps and could delay your access to the electronic application. 

7. Start the free 8(a) online application or follow the instructions on the hard copy

  • Go to the SBA General Login system 
  • Select “Electronic 8(a) Certification and Annual Review System (BDMIS)”
  • Select “Download & Print Authorization Form” and select “I Have Completed this Step” button
  • Select “Complete Required Application Forms.”
    • Complete the 1010 Form first 
    • For each form, you must  scroll down and select “Update/Complete Form” and  select “Verify Completeness.” This will highlight any missing data
    • Select the “Save” button
    • You must have green checks by each form
  • Select “Return to Overview” 
  • Go to  “Assemble Supporting Documentation”
  • Select “Submit On-Line Input”
  • Select “Download, Print and Sign Completed Application.” This will prompt you to “Mail the Application Package, Supporting Documents and Checklist to the SBA”
  • Once you have mailed the documents to SBA, login and select “I have mailed the package….” This puts your application in the queue for processing so an SBA  analyst can begin the review process. Only two SBA offices receive and process applications for the 8(a) Business Development program (California and Pennsylvania).  Follow the instructions on the application carefully. For questions on where to send the application, contact 8aquestions@sba.gov

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