Maintaining the HUBZone Certification
There is no limit to the length of time a firm is qualified as a HUBZone small business concern. The firm may remain certified as long as it continues to maintain compliance, follows the HUBZone regulations, notifies SBA of any material changes, and properly recertifies.
HUBZone certification ends in one of two ways:
Regardless of the reason, a firm that is decertified may seek certification after ninety (90) calendar days from the date of decertification if it believes that it has overcome the reasons for decertification through changed circumstances and is currently eligible.
An authorized officer of the firm may voluntarily decertify it at any time by completing the Voluntary Decertification form and mailing it to:
U.S. Small Business Administration
409 3rd Street SW, 8th floor
Washington, DC 20416
ATTN: HUBZone Program – Voluntary Decertification
The circumstances under which firms voluntarily decertify include:
- They experience a material change and realize they no longer are meeting the requirements.
- As a response to SBA’s request that the firm recertify because they no longer meet the requirements of the program.
- They receive a notice of proposed decertification and agree with the reasons for proposed decertification.
- They decide they no longer want to participate in the HUBZone program.
SBA sends a notice of proposed decertification when one of the following triggers occur*:
- Failed site visit
- Failure to recertify
- Material change
- Failed program examination
- 3rd party referral, including the IG
The notice will detail the reasons that SBA proposes to decertify the firm and request information and supporting documents to verify eligibility. Upon receipt, the firm has 30 days to respond to the notice. Upon receiving the firm's response, SBA has 30 days to decide whether to continue the firm's certification or decertify the firm. SBA will notify the firm of its decision in writing.
*Protests are not covered in this page. To learn about what happens during a protest, please read the Protests FAQ.
SBA performs site visits on HUBZone certified firms as well as firms seeking HUBZone certification. These visits are often unannounced and may include a visit to any of the firm’s offices. SBA may decide to propose decertification on the basis of a failed site visit – i.e., when SBA cannot validate that the firm is operating from the HUBZone principal office or meets the 35% HUBZone residency requirement.
Even though there is no limit to the length of time the firm may qualify as a HUBZone small business concern, the certification is not a lifetime certification.
If you wish to retain the firm’s HUBZone certification, you must recertify every three years to SBA, indicating that the firm is still in compliance with all the HUBZone requirements including: its principal office is located in a qualified HUBZone; at least 35% of its employees reside in a HUBZone; and it is a small business concern that is 51% owned directly and unconditionally by U.S. citizens. Different rules apply for Tribal Governments, Alaska Native Corporations, Community Development Corporations and small agricultural cooperatives. These rules are set forth in SBA’s regulations, at 13 C.F.R. § 126.200.
SBA will send you a notice when it comes time to recertify because there is no mechanism for you to initiate the recertification process. This means that you may not receive the notice exactly on your 3rd anniversary. For example, a firm certified on January 2, 2010 may receive the recertification notification from SBA several months later. However, the firm continues to be certified until it is decertified because it no longer meets the HUBZone requirements.
If you fail to recertify within 30 days after being prompted by the SBA, you will receive a notice of proposed decertification.
You must report all “material changes” to SBA because they may affect your eligibility in the HUBZone Program.
What is considered a "material change?" For example:
- Change in the ownership
- Change in business structure
- Change in principal office
- Falling below the 35% employee HUBZone residency requirement
Report material changes to email@example.com. SBA will evaluate your statements and may request additional information from you in order to evaluate the firm’s compliance.
If the material change means that your firm no longer qualifies for the program, you can voluntarily decertify (see above for more information).
SBA may conduct a program examination on any HUBZone certified business at any time while the firm is certified. This program examination is an investigation to determine whether the firm is currently meeting all of the eligibility requirements or met them at the time of certification, recertification, bid or award for a HUBZone contract. The program exam may include document review and/or a site visit. (13 CFR 126.400-403)
From time to time SBA receives 3rd party referrals providing evidence that a HUBZone certified firm may not be in compliance. The source for these referrals may be the Office of Inspector General, other federal agencies, Small Business Development Centers, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, another office within SBA, or the public.