Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to apply for certification?
  • For state certification, the application fee varies according to your business structure. Sole Proprietorships pay $50, Partnerships pay $75, Corporations and LLCs pay $100.
  • For DBE or ACDBE (federal) certification, the application fee is $25.
  • There is no application fee for Small Business Enterprise (SBE) certification.
How long will it take for me to get certified?

Applying for certification does not guarantee that your business will be certified. OMWBE analysts must follow the regulations for state or federal certification (depending on which certification program you are seeking).

Once you submit your application, supporting documentation, and non-refundable application fee, the office will pre-screen your application within 30 calendar days of receipt. Once OMWBE has determined your application is complete, (i.e., no missing documentation for the application), the goal for processing state applications is 45 days, and the goal for processing federal applications is 90 days.

I don’t understand one of the questions on the application. Who can I contact for help?

Please call OMWBE at (360) 664-9750 or Toll Free (866) 208-1064 and ask to speak with the Technical Assistant. You can also visit our office any time Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

I want to start my own business. What do I do first?

Congratulations on wanting to become a business owner! You may want to read through the Small Business Guide at the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Assistance website for information on how to start and operate a small business in Washington

How can I expedite my application? There’s a job I’m bidding on next week.

There is no expediting of any applications or NAICS code requests. Please ensure you submit your application and allow at least 30 days for prescreening, and depending on which certification (state or federal), at least 45-90 days to complete processing.

What are the criteria for DBE certification?

A Disadvantaged Business Enterprise or DBE is a for-profit small business concern that is at least 51 percent owned by one individual or at least two individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. In the case of a corporation, 51 percent of the stock must be owned by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. In addition, the business management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own it. For More information visit WSDOT here.

The complete list of eligibility requirements for DBE certification is stated in 49 CFR, Part 26 and can be viewed online at The following six requirements must be proved by a DBE applicant; please note that these do not cover all the requirements found in 49 CFR, Part 26.

  • Social and Economic Disadvantage: A DBE owner must be a U.S. Citizen (or resident alien) and meet the federal definition of socially and economically disadvantaged as defined in 49 CFR Part 26.67. Presumptive groups include women, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian-Americans or other minorities found to be disadvantaged by the federal regulations. Other individuals may be found to be socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis.
  • Personal Net Worth: The US Department of Transportation requires proof that participating DBE owners have a net worth not to exceed $1,320,000. When an individual’s net worth exceeds the $1,320,000 threshold, the individual is no longer eligible to participate in the DBE Program. Net worth excludes the value of the business and the primary residence of the owner.
  • Business Size Standard: The DBE firm (including affiliates) must be a small business as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Its annual gross receipts for the three previous fiscal years cannot have exceeded $22,410,000 (or $52,470,000 for airport concessions in general with some exceptions). Depending on the type of work the business performs, other size standards may apply.
  • Ownership: The DBE must be a for-profit small business concern where socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least 51 percent interest and control management and daily business operations.
  • Independence: The DBE must not be affiliated with another firm in such a way as to compromise its independence and control. Independence should be achieved in areas including, but not limited to, personnel, facilities, equipment, financial and/or bonding support, and other resources.
  • Management and Control: The DBE owner (s) must possess the power to direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of the firm and to make day-to-day decisions, as well as long-term decisions on matters of management, policy and operations.
Will OMWBE get me contracts?

No, being certified will not guarantee your firm will receive contracts. However, receiving a certification will create visibility for your firm, and makes you marketable to compete for State, Federal and private sector opportunities that have diversity requirements. Think of certification as a marketing tool to create awareness about your firm. Your business will be available in OMWBE database, which is used by cities, counties, state agencies, transportation, and educational institutions to source small and diverse firms for potential contracting opportunities.

Does OMWBE provide loans for small businesses?

No, OMWBE does not provide loans. OMWBE state certification makes it possible to participate in the Linked Deposit Program, where certified firms can work with linked deposit participating banks to see if they can receive better rates. Check out OMWBE linked deposit program.

How do I know if my business is within the Small Business size standard requirements for my assigned NAICS codes?

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) utilizes the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to define small businesses based on size standards. The size standards are determined by either the Firm’s annual gross receipts averaged over the last 3 years or the Firm’s number of employees. The program maximum is $22.41 million. If your firm has over $22.41 million in annual gross receipts, your firm is not eligible for certification. To determine if your business meets the small business size standards for your specific NAICS codes, use the search tool located on the NAICS Website. For more information on the SBA’s size standards click here.

Or see our Top 9 Tips for Applicants.

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