Frequently Asked Questions

Electronic Application for 8(a) Business Development and Small Disadvantaged Business Certification


General Information


1. What is the purpose of the Electronic Application?

The purpose of the Electronic Application is to improve the public's ability to apply for the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8(a) and Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) programs. Through the use of an Internet based application, more small businesses will be able to become certified in these programs.


2. How do I get to the Electronic Application?

The easiest way to find the Electronic Application is to start at the SBA website at Find the listing of SBA programs on the main page and click on the 8(a) or SDB program links. Both of these program's pages have direct links to the Electronic Application introductory and guide page.


3. Where do I call to get help with the Electronic Application?

For 8(a) E-application Questions: email

For SDB E-application Questions: email


4. Who can apply and what are the basic requirements for 8(a) and SDB?

Any small business in the United States may apply for the 8(a) BD and SDB programs. First, you must read the regulations that govern these programs so that you understand their requirements. The regulations are available at:


For both programs, the business must be at least 51% owned by U.S. citizens who are found to be socially and economically disadvantaged and the business must be managed and controlled by disadvantaged individuals. For the 8(a) BD program, the business must also demonstrate potential for success and the business itself and its principals and owners must demonstrate good character.


5. Who is socially disadvantaged?

There is a rebuttable presumption that the following individuals are socially disadvantaged: Black Americans; Hispanic Americans; Native Americans (American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, or Native Hawaiians); Asian Pacific Americans (persons with origins from Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Japan, China (including Hong Kong), Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea), Vietnam, Korea, The Philippines, U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau), Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Samoa, Macao, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, or Nauru); Subcontinent Asian Americans (persons with origins from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, the Maldives Islands or Nepal).


Please note that being born in a country does not, by itself, suffice to make the birth country an individual's country of origin for purposes of being included within a designated group. For more information go to


6. I have not been in business for 2 years, can I get a waiver?

SBA may waive the two years in business requirement if each of the following five conditions are met:


1. The individual or individuals upon whom eligibility is based have substantial business management experience;


2. The applicant has demonstrated technical experience to carry out its business plan with a substantial likelihood for success if admitted to the 8(a) BD program;


3. The applicant has adequate capital to sustain its operations and carry out its business plan as a Participant;


4. The applicant has a record of successful performance on contracts from governmental or nongovernmental sources in its primary industry category; and


5. The applicant has, or can demonstrate its ability to timely obtain, the personnel, facilities, equipment, and any other requirements needed to perform contracts as a Participant.


Registration Process


1. How do I start the Electronic Application?

To start your Electronic Application you should be on the Electronic Application introductory page. This page contains information on the process for completing the Electronic Application and the steps you must take to complete your application.


On the upper-right of the page is a box of quick links to the various steps in the registration process. First, you must be registered with the Central Contractor Registry and the SBA Supplemental databases. Once you have completed this step, you must register with SBA’s General Login System (GLS) for an account on the SBA Computer Network. After you receive an account, you will be able to begin the Electronic Application.


2. Why do I register my firm with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR)?

Every firm that does business with the federal government must be registered in the Central Contractor Registry. This database contains basic information about your company and its products and services that is used by Federal agencies throughout the procurement process.


3. What is the General Login System (GLS)?

The SBA General Login System (GLS) is the entry point for access to the SBA Computer Network and the Electronic Application. All users, whether SBA employees or the general public, must be registered with the GLS in order to access the Electronic Application. Applicants to the 8(a) and SDB programs must first register for an account with GLS prior to starting the application.


4. How do you register for the GLS?

After registration in the CCR and SBA Supplemental databases, new users must complete the GLS registration process. From the introductory page for the Electronic Application, click on the GLS registration link and complete the requested information. If your CCR and SBA Supplemental registrations have been completed correctly, you should receive a User ID and Password via e-mail that will allow you access to the Electronic Application.


5. When I try to register for the GLS, I get an error that says my EIN and DUNS # are not registered with CCR, but I know they are. Why?


There are three main reasons for receiving this error:


A.   You may not have checked the Small Business check box on the Corporate Information screen of your CCR entries. If this box is not checked, you are not given the opportunity to complete the SBA Supplemental pages of the database. Completion of these pages is required to register for a GLS account. The best way to find out if you checked this box is to search for your entry on CCR and check the entries under Socioeconomic Factors. If the box is not checked, check it and save the updated information. The CCR will then indicate you successfully completed a registration and display a link button to the SBA Supplemental pages.


B. The information you entered for the GLS registration may not match the entries those same information in CCR and the SBA Supplemental data. You should check the entries in CCR for e-mail address, EIN and DUNS number to ensure that they are the same as those entered in the registration process.


C. Your firm was registered in PRO-Net prior to 2004 and your entries have not been updated since it was absorbed by CCR. You will need to update and/o reactivate your entry using your PRO-Net number and password.


If these actions do not work, please contact the appropriate Electronic Application help line for assistance.



6. Why is there a three-day wait to register with the GLS after completing my CCR registration?


The wait is necessary for the database information in the CCR and SBA databases to be validated and synchronized.


7. What is the SBA Customer ID number?

How do I find out my SBA Customer Id Number?


The SBA Customer ID number is generated when you enter your data in the SBA Supplemental pages of the CCR. This number is used to identify your firm in the SBA portion of the CCR database and is required on the Authorization and Certification form for the Electronic Application.


If you do not know your SBA Customer ID number, you may find it by doing a Small Dynamic Business Search from the CCR Home page. On the search form, enter your EIN or Duns number and click on the "Search" button. If your firm is in the database, information will be displayed, including the Business Name. Place the cursor over the Business Name and the SBA Customer ID number will be listed in the URL address at the bottom of the window. The Customer ID number begins with the letter P and is followed by seven digits.


8. How do I get a User ID and Password to start the Electronic Application?


Your user ID and password for the Electronic Application are generated by SBA when your GLS registration is successful. In this case, a message is displayed indicating your data has been validated and a User ID and password will be e-mailed to you shortly. The wait time is usually between 1 to 5 minutes.


Your User ID begins with the letters 'bus' followed by initials of the registered user and a 3 digit number such as 004. The password is eight characters and is a onetime use password to get you on the Electronic application for the first time. You must change this password upon entry into the application. Criteria for the SBA password are included on your e-mail.


9. What if I forgot my User ID and Password, can I get new ones?

If you forget your User ID or password, go to the Electronic Application introductory page, click on the GLS Login link, and use the Forgot User ID or Forgot Password links. If you have forgotten both, use the Forgot User ID link first as a User ID is necessary to retrieve passwords.


10. Do my User ID and Password change?


SBA protocols for passwords require that they be changed every 90 days. You will be sent an e-mail prior to the expiration of the password. Password requirements are that the password be at least eight characters and there be at least three of the four following items:


1. a capital letter;
2. a lowercase letter;

3. a number;

4. a symbol.


The Application


1. Is there online Help for the Electronic Application?


There is on-line help for the Electronic Application. Items with help are followed by a help bubble at the end of the sentence or question. The help information is context sensitive and includes Regulatory citations where necessary. All help is in the form of questions and answers.


2. What is the two year rule?


The two year rule is a regulation of the 8(a) BD program that states that in order for business to be eligible for the program it must show revenues in the primary industry on Federal business tax returns for the previous two years. This rule may be waived businesses that do not have two years of tax returns or businesses changing their primary industry by showing the following:

A. That the disadvantaged owners and managers have substantial and demonstrated business management experience;


B. the business itself has demonstrated technical expertise to carry on its business plan;


C. the business has adequate capital to carry out its business plan;


D. the business has a record of successful performance on contracts in the primary industry in which it is seeking certification; and


E. the business has or can demonstrate its ability to obtain the necessary personnel, facilities, equipment and any other requirements needed to perform on contracts.


A business that has not generated any revenues in the current year or in previous years will not be able to wave the two year rule.


3. What if I have been arrested, charged or convicted of an offense?


Applicants for the 8(a) BD program that have been arrested, charged or convicted of an offense other than a minor traffic violation must complete and SBA Form 912, statement of Personal History and FT-258, fingerprint card. You should also provide details on the offense and information on any court outcome, fines, sentences and to time served. You should also indicate if you served any probation or parole.


Your information is sent to the SBA Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the fingerprint card is in turn sent to the FBI for processing. The OIG reviews your documents, and along with the results of the FBI processing, returns its findings to the Office of Business Development. The OIG findings are reviewed as part of the character eligibility determination, and may have an effect on the outcome of your application.


4. What is the checklist for, my business doesn't require most of those documents?


The checklist is a guide for the documents and information you need to complete the application. It is also a listing of the documents that SBA may request for further information when reviewing your application. Many businesses may not have all the documents listed, either because they are not required for that type of business or because business locale does not require them.


Application Processing


1. When does processing of my application begin?


Processing of the application begins when SBA has received both the electronically submitted application and the original signed and notarized Certification for the Receipt of Electronic 8(a)/SDB Information from Individual Applicants.


2. What is the Authorization and Certification form for?


This form is used to trigger processing of the Electronic Application. Your signature on this form indicates that you agree with the conditions of applying for the 8(a) BD and SDB programs online, which includes authorizing SBA to review any documents related to the application and related to your business' eligibility for the program.


3. How long does it take to get certified?


The periods for the certification process for the 8 (a) BD and SDB programs are set in regulation. For the SDB program, there is a 15 day screening period and a 75 day overall processing time. For the 8(a) BD program, there is a 15 days screening period and a 90 day overall processing time. This means that SBA will issue a final decision signed by the Associate Administrator of the Office of Business Development within the mandated time frames.


In practical terms, applications that are less complex are likely to be processed faster than more complex applications. For example, the sole proprietorship owned by a single individual is usually much less complex than an application from a corporation owned by many individuals.


4. What happens if I am not certified. Can I appeal?


If your initial application is declined, you can request that SBA reconsider its decision. You have 45 days from the date you receive SBA's initial decision to request it be reconsidered. You must provide the information requested in the Decision Letter by that date or you will not be allowed to apply for one year.


SBA has 45 days from the date of receipt of your request to issue a final decision. If you are declined on reconsideration, you must wait one year to reapply.


In some instances, you may have the option of appealing to the Office of Hearings and Appeals (0HA) instead of requesting reconsideration. The requirements for appeals to OHA will be outlined in your Decision Letter if you have appeal rights.