8 Tips to Get Your Business Registered in SAM

By: Sherri Komrosky
Business Opportunity Specialist
North Dakota District Office

The U.S. Government is the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, awarding over $470 billion in contracts every year. The federal government buys all types of products and services in both large and small quantities and is required to provide opportunities for small businesses.

But the Government can only do business with companies that are registered in the database known as SAM - the System for Award Management. Here are eight tips to help you through the registration process:

1. Registration at the official SAM website - www.sam.gov - is free of charge and is something you can do yourself. Don't be confused by look-alike websites! Remember that official government websites end in “.gov” or “.mil”. SAM dot COM will take you to a commercial website that will charge a fee to assist you with your SAM registration. There is nothing wrong with this, but you should know that you can register your business at SAM dot GOV free of charge.

2. Expert assistance is available free of charge to all businesses, large and small. In North Dakota, contact the Impact Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Impact PTAC has offices in Bismarck and Fargo and can assist you with your SAM registration, finding opportunities, as well as understanding the government market. Register for Impact PTAC assistance at http://impactptac.com or call 701-356-2664. If your business is outside of North Dakota, find a local PTAC at www.aptac-us.org.

3. There are several resources now available online to help you with the registration process. SAM has a Quick Start Guide for Contract Registrations. An online search will provide several YouTube videos and user guides.  The search will also turn up a 382-page paper guide if you want to understand all the technical aspects of the database (or if you need some night-time reading materials).

4. Make sure to use the exact legal name of your company in your SAM registration. Check with the Secretary of State to make sure you are using the exact legal name.

5. Using your company's exact legal name, obtain a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number from DUN & Bradstreet. You can request this free number at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform or by calling 866-705-5711. DUN & Bradstreet is a commercial company and has products and services to sell. Be aware, they may try to sell to you but you only need the free number to do business with the Government! It may take up to 10 days to receive your number and have it activated online. As a side note, the Government is in the process of adopting a new number system that will be unique to the Government.

6. Remember to Opt In for a public search. If you don't, government agencies will not be able to find your business registration.

7. Identify your NAICS (North American Industry Classification) codes. NAICS codes are used to classify your business industry. You will need one primary code for your SAM registration, but you can have multiple codes so be sure to reference all that apply to your business. Government agencies will assign a NAICS code to their purchases and will also search by NAICS codes to find small business registrations. You can find NAICS codes at www.census.gov/eos/www/naics.

8. Once you complete your SAM registration, the system will ask if you want to complete your SBA small business profile - YES, you want to fill this out! This is part of the SBA Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) portal and it is tied to your SAM registration. DSBS is used by government agencies to identify small businesses and it’s used by prime contractors to identify potential subcontractors. Make sure it is accurate and be sure to fill in keywords, capabilities and other items as requested. Note that you can also use this database to see what NAICS, keywords and capabilities that your competitors have entered.

Now that you've registered in SAM and have completed your SBA small business profile, you're ready to search for bidding opportunities! A good place to start is www.fbo.gov - the Government must post all requests for bids over $25,000 on this website.

Remember, SAM registration is required if you want to do business with Federal agencies. There is no charge to register at SAM.gov and help with the registration process is readily available, at no charge, from SBA or the PTAC.


Sherri Komrosky is a Business Opportunity Specialist for the North Dakota District Office. In this position, she is responsible for assisting North Dakota small businesses gain access to government contracting opportunities and utilize the federal 8(a) and HUBZone programs. Prior to joining SBA, Sherri served was the Minnesota Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Program Director for 10 years; Northern Minnesota Area Manager for 15 years; and with the North Dakota PTAC for 2 years. Her government experience began with the VA Medical Center in Fargo where she held various positions during her 8 years there, many in the procurement area. Sherri can be reached at sherri.komrosky@sba.gov (link sends e-mail).

Other Resources Available from the North Dakota District Office

Getting Started in Contracting - 2017 Resource Guide for Small Business, North Dakota Edition
Contact the North Dakota District Office at 701.239.5131 or north.dakota@sba.gov to request a hardcopy of this guide.

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