How to Apply for the 8(a) Business Development Program

8(a) Certification ApplicationThe 8(a) Business Development Program offered by the Small Business Administration can help disadvantaged small businesses learn the skills and access the tools necessary to be successful.  Although the application process is complicated and highly detailed, the assistance offered by this program to eligible businesses is well worth the effort to obtain it.

A basic overview of the 8(a) application process involves:

  1. Obtaining a DUNS number and completing SAM registration.  Before you can even start applying for 8(a), the SBA expects you to have already completed these basic registration steps.
  2. Complete Online Training.  The SBA highly recommends you take the online training course to help determine 8(a) Certification eligibility and whether the program is right for your business.
  3. Register on the SBA General Log-in System.  The GLS streamlines and simplifies the SBA’s services to their clients.  It is also where you will access the electronic 8(a) application.
  4. Complete the electronic 8(a) application.  This is the tough part.  The 8(a) application is made up of six primary steps which include:

Submit Notarized Authorization Form
Complete Required Application Forms
Assemble Supporting Documentation
Submit On-Line Input
Download, Print and Sign Completed Application
Mail Application, Supporting Documentation & Checklist to the SBA

Once you have submitted your online application and mailed in the required signed hard copies, the SBA will evaluate your application for the 8(a) Business Development Program.  The amount of time it takes for the SBA to approve or reject your application will vary depending on the complexity of your application, however regulations stipulate a 90 day time frame from the time the SBA considers your application to be complete.

While the SBA does permit applicants to submit a paper application, it is recommended you use the electronic application process.  Electronic applications are processed quicker.  Additionally, the electronic application will alert you to which forms need to be filled out according to your answers to questions and will notify you of errors or omissions as you complete the application.

For detailed information on the 8(a) Business Development Program application process, check out the official SBA 8(a) Certification User Guide.

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