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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  1. What is the Virginia SWaM Program?
  2. What are the benefits of SWaM certification?
  3. Is there a cost to become certified?
  4. What is the definition of �Minority-owned Business �?
  5. What is the definition of Minority Individual?
  6. What is the definition of a Small Business?
  7. What is the definition of a Women-Owned Business?
  8. Can I be certified as “Service Disabled” or a “Veteran”?
  9. Should I apply for SWaM or DBE Certification? What’s the difference?
  10. What is a DUNS number and how do I get one?
  11. Why do I need an email address?
  12. I don’t have access to a computer. How do I become certified?
  13. How do I prove that I’m certified as a SWaM business?
  14. What is the difference between DMBE certification and DBE certification?

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SWaM Questions

  1. What documents should I submit to prove identification?
  2. Do I need to notarize my application?
  3. I’ve completed my application online. When will I receive my certification?
  4. What happens after I submit my SWaM certification application?
  5. Why must I provide a copy of my business’ Income Tax Return?
  6. I’ve submitted my required supporting documents, now what?
  7. How else can I prove my ownership and control of the business?
  8. How long am I certified?
  9. How will a state procurement officer or buyer find my business?
  10. What else can I do to promote my business?
  11. Does certification guarantee that I will receive a state contract?
  12. I am from one of the 14 states listed on the DMBE website that are unable to participate in the Virginia SWaM Program. Why can’t I participate?

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DBE Questions

  1. Should I apply for SWaM first, and then the DBE Program?
  2. I’m already a certified DBE. Should I apply for SWAM certification?
  3. What are the general criteria for DBE certification?
  4. How do I apply for DBE Certification?
  5. What are the current requirements for notarization of documents?
  6. Where can I get the DBE application forms?
  7. I�m SDB / 8(a) certified. Do I need to complete the DBE Application Form as well?
  8. I�m DBE certified in my Home State. Do I need to complete a new application for Virginia?
  9. Why do I need to send all the supporting documents?
  10. What is the purpose of an �Onsite Visit�?
  11. How long does the DBE application process take?
  12. What business and technical assistance is available to DBE Companies?

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Other Questions

  1. What is eVA?
  2. What is Ariba?
  3. My business is not based in Virginia. Can I still become certified?
  4. Do I have to send the original documents?
  5. If I have questions or need help?
  6. Is there someone that I can speak to directly or in my area?

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General Questions

  1. What is the Virginia SWaM Program?
    The SWaM Procurement Initiative was established to enhance business opportunities for small, women- and minority-owned businesses and to ensure a level playing field for all small businesses in the Commonwealth of Virginia. SWaM is the acronym for Small, Women- and Minority-owned businesses. A SWaM vendor is a business that has been certified by the Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise and is listed in the SWaM Vendor Directory
  2. What are the benefits of SWaM certification?
    On August 10, 2006, Governor Timothy Kaine signed Executive Order No. 33 (2006) focusing on enhancing business opportunities for small, women- and minority-owned (“SWaM”) businesses. Governor Kaine set forth a 40% goal of purchases from SWaMs for the Commonwealth and established a Small Business Set-Aside Program, as well as several other initiatives for state agencies and departments to enhance SWaM participation in procurement activities. Becoming SWaM certified includes you in the SWaM Vendor Directory, which is the listing used by state procurement officials to locate SWaM certified vendors.
  3. is there a cost to become certified?
    There is no cost for certification in Virginia.
  4. What is the definition of “Minority-owned Business ”?
    "Minority-owned business" means a business that is at least 51% owned by one or more minority individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens, or in the case of a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company or other entity, at least 51% of the equity ownership interest in the corporation, partnership, or limited liability company or other entity is owned by one or more minority individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens, and both the management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more minority individuals.
  5. What is the definition of Minority Individual?
    "Minority individual" means an individual who is a citizen of the United States or legal resident alien and who satisfies one or more of the following definitions:
    1. "African American" means a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Africa and who is regarded as such by the community of which this person claims to be a part.
    2. "Asian American" means a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, or the Pacific Islands, including but not limited to Japan, China, Vietnam, Samoa, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, Northern Mariana, the Philippines, a U.S. territory of the Pacific, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka and who is regarded as such by the community of which this person claims to be a part.
    3. "Hispanic American" means a person having origins in any of the Spanish-speaking peoples of Mexico, South or Central America, or the Caribbean Islands or other Spanish or Portuguese cultures and who is regarded as such by the community of which this person claims to be a part.
    4. "Native American" means a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who is regarded as such by the community of which this person claims to be a part or who is recognized by a tribal organization.
  6. What is the definition of a Small Business?
    "Small business" means a business that is at least 51% independently owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens, and together with affiliates, has 250 or fewer employees, or average annual gross receipts of $10 million or less averaged over the previous three years. One or more of these individual owners shall control both the management and daily business operations of the small business.
  7. What is the definition of a Women-Owned Business?
    "Women-owned business" means a business that is at least 51% owned by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens, or in the case of a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company or other entity, at least 51% of the equity ownership interest is owned by one or more women who are citizens of the United States or legal resident aliens, and both the management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more women.
  8. Can I be certified as “Service Disabled” or a “Veteran”?
    Veterans who are small business owners can obtain Service Disabled Veteran-owned “status” in the SWaM vendor database. This is not a separate certification; it is a designation of those businesses that are owned by Service Disabled Veterans who are certified as such by the Virginia Department of Veteran Services. Veterans wishing to apply for service disabled veteran status must first seek eligibility certification from the Department of Veteran Services by calling (804) 786-0286 or visiting the DVS website at www.virginiaforveterans.com . Veterans can apply for small, women-owned or minority-owned certification with the Department of Minority Business Enterprise before or after obtaining an eligibility certificate from DVS. Both services are available at no charge.

  9. Should I apply for SWaM or DBE Certification? What’s the difference?
    The SWaM Procurement Initiative is a Commonwealth of Virginia program, while the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) Program is a federal certification program under the U.S. Department of Transportation.  The DBE Program focuses on Federally-funded projects through the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and also includes rail, airport and seaport projects, as well as public transit projects. See below for more information on the DBE Program..
  10. What is a DUNS number and how do I get one?
    The Dun & Bradstreet or “DUNS” Number is a unique nine-digit identification sequence, which provides unique identifiers of single business entities, while linking corporate family structures together. It is recognized, recommended and/or required by more than 50 global, industry and trade associations, including the United Nations, the U.S. Federal Government, the Australian Government and the European Commission. In today's global economy, the D&B DUNS Number has become the standard for keeping track of the world's businesses. To get a DUNS Number, call 1-866-705-5711 and request for a DUNS number for doing business with federal and state government. There is no charge for the number. You can also go to the Dun & Bradstreet website at http://www.dnb.com/get-a-duns-number.html..
  11. Why do I need an email address?
    The Commonwealth of Virginia is quickly moving towards the use of electronic means for communication and for many of its procurement processes. In today’s world, having a computer and an email account is necessary in order to compete with other businesses.
  12. I don’t have access to a computer. How do I become certified?
    The Commonwealth of Virginia is quickly moving towards the use of electronic means for communication with businesses. Many of the Commonwealth’s procurement activities are electronic and having access to a computer with Internet access is vital. Businesses without computer or Internet access are strongly encouraged to obtain such access if they intend to do business with the Commonwealth. If Internet access is unavailable in your area, please contact the Department of Minority Business Enterprise for assistance. You can also visit your local library or educational institution in your area to use their computers. You will need to obtain an electronic mail account (known as “email”) and can use many of the free services available, such as Yahoo, Hotmail, GMail, or any of the other available services.
  13. How do I prove that I’m certified as a SWaM business?
    Once your certification has been approved, you will receive an electronic approval letter sent to your email address. You can obtain a copy of your listing the SWaM Vendor Director by finding your business listing and printing out that page. You can also present a copy of your electronic approval letter or request a certificate from DMBE. Call the Customer Care Specialist at 804-786-6585 to make this request or email your request to dmbe@dmbe.virginia.gov
  14. What is the difference between DMBE certification and DBE certification?
    “DMBE” is the acronym for the Department of Minority Business Enterprise: the business certification agency for the Commonwealth of Virginia. “DBE” is the acronym for certification under the federal procurement program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation: the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. Becoming DMBE certified means that you are certified by the state and obtaining DBE certification means that you are certified to participate in the federal program for transportation-related projects. See the section DBE Questions below.

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Virginia SWAM Program Questions

  1. What documents should I submit to prove identification?
    You must provide one of the following documents to prove your identification:
    • Copy of government-issued picture identification card (driver’s license, military ID card, etc.)
    • Passport
  2. Do I need to notarize my application?
    No. The notary requirement was eliminated.
  3. I’ve completed my application online. When will I receive my certification?
    The completion of online application form is only the first step of your application process. You need to print, sign and date the completed application form and mail it with all required supporting documents to us (DMBE) or your application will not be processed.
  4. What happens after I submit my SWaM certification application?
    Once the signed application form and the completed supporting documents are received by our office, it takes approximately 30 business days for the assigned certification officer to review your file. Information about the status of your application, the date of your application, all documents that were received or missing, and any other necessary information being requested can be viewed by entering a certification tracking number or a portion of the company’s name at this page: Click HERE.
  5. Why must I provide a copy of my business’ Income Tax Return?
    The income tax return is used to verify that your business qualifies for SWaM certification in it size and its organization. Any proprietary information and all financial records are confidential and excluded from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, Code of Virginia, and Section 2.2-3705.6 (20). In order for financial records to be excluded from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the business must (1) invoke such exclusion upon submission of the data or other materials for which protection from disclosure is sought, (2) identify the data or other materials from which protection is sought, and (3) state the reasons why protection is necessary.
  6. I’ve submitted my required supporting documents, now what?
    The requried supporting documents will then be reviewed by a SWaM Certification Officer for compliance with the eligibility criteria found in the Code of Virginia, Section 2.2-1401, and the Virginia Administrative Code, 7 VAC 10-20-10 et seq. More specifically, you must be able to demonstrate the following:
    (A) Be owned and controlled by an individual who is a citizen of the United States or a legal resident aliens;
    (B) Be licensed to transact business in the Commonwealth of Virginia;
    (C) Satisfy the criteria set forth under Section 2.2-1401 of the Code of Virginia and 7VAC10-20-20 for small, women-owned, and minority-owned business certification;
    (D)  Demonstrate a substantial and personal “investment” by the Principal owner as defined by 7VAC10-20-20; and
    (E) Be free from any “conversion rights” as defined under 7VAC10-20-20.
  7. How else can I prove my ownership and control of the business?
    You may be asked to provide or may want to further establish your ownership and control of the business by providing any of the following documents:
    • Signed agreements or contracts (e.g., rental agreements, leases, work contracts, or other types of formal written agreements concerning the business)
    • Contract or work history of your business (e.g., client list, past project list)
    • Resume(s) of all owners, shareholders, partnerships, officers, and/or managers
    • Bank signature card, corporate banking resolution, or notarized letter from bank indicating signatory authorization
  8. How long am I certified?
    If your supporting documentation proves your status as a Small, Women- or Minority-owned Business, your certification will be granted for a three (3) year term. If your firm is newly established and you have not filed a Federal Business Tax Return, your certification may be granted for one year if other documents submitted provide sufficient proof of ownership and control. At least 30-60 days prior to the expiration of your certification, you must re-certify to maintain your SWaM status.
  9. How will a state procurement officer or buyer find my business?
    Once approved as a SWaM vendor, your business will be listed in the SWaM Vendor Directory. This directory is a listing of all certified small, women and minority-owned firms currently on file with DMBE, along with a description of the products/services they provide. The SWaM Vendor Directory is posted on our website at www.dmbe.virginia.gov and accessed by procurement agents of state agencies, as well as other public entities and private corporations, when searching for a SWaM vendor.
  10. What else can I do to promote my business?
    If you have not already done so, we strongly recommend that you register your company with eVA , the state’s online, electronic procurement system. For more information about eVA and getting registered, visit the Vendor Resource Center on the eVA website at http://www.eva.virginia.gov/pressroom/index.htm.
  11. Does certification guarantee that I will receive a state contract?
    No, obtaining SWaM certification does not serve as a guarantee of work or that you’ll receive a contract.  The Program provides the tools for your business to effectively compete and remove any barriers or limitations in the state procurement process for small, women- and minority-owned businesses. You will still need to aggressively market your business, network, and competitively bid for projects or contracts.
  12. I am from one of the 12 states listed on the DMBE website that are unable to participate in the Virginia SWaM Program. Why can’t I participate?
    The following 12 states and district do not allow Virginia-based businesses to participate equally in their programs for small, women- or minority-owned businesses: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, and Washington, D. C.. Businesses based in these 12 states are not eligible to participate because the Code of Virginia (Section 2.2-1403 (8) requires that DMBE deny them participation as a result of their programs or procurement preferences which negatively affect Virginia-based businesses (such as denying them certification or having non-Virginia, in-state preferences or pre-conditions for participation).

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Federal DBE Program Questions

  1. Should I apply for SWaM first, and then the DBE Program?
    No. If you intend to apply for DBE Certification, do that one first. Although it is more demanding, it also includes SWAM status, so you will only need to apply once, but you will get both certifications if you are successful.
  2. I’m already a certified DBE. Should I apply for SWAM certification?
    No. Your Virginia DBE Certification automatically gives you SWAM status in Virginia.
  3. What are the current requirements for notarization of documents?
    The Affidavit of Certification, the Affidavit of No Change, and the Personal Networth Statement all need to be notarized. Notarization must include date, city/county and state in which notarization was performed. It must also include the notary registration number of the notary public, and the date of expiry of his/her commission.  The notary certificate must be on the same page as the signature it is witnessing, and the DBE applicant signing the document must be physically present with the notary and sign in his/her presence.  The notary must be certain of the Applicant’s true identity. The seal should be sharp, legible, permanent, and photographically reproducible. For further information, click here.
  4. How do I apply for DBE Certification?
    On this website, go to the DBE Certification page. Print out the Uniform Certification Application form, the Gross Receipts Survey and the Personal Networth Statement. Complete the forms. Get the Application and the Personal Networth Statement notarized, and mail them into us with the supporting documentation listed on the Checklist at the back of the Application Form. Check that Federal Tax Returns have been signed before mailing.
  5. What are the current requirements for notarization of documents?
    The Affidavit of Certification, the Affidavit of No Change, and the Personal Networth Statement all need to be notarized. Notarization must include date, city/county and state in which notarization was performed. It must also include the notary registration number of the notary public, and the date of expiry of his/her commission.  The notary certificate must be on the same page as the signature it is witnessing, and the DBE applicant signing the document must be physically present with the notary and sign in his/her presence.  The notary must be certain of the Applicant’s true identity. The seal should be sharp, legible, permanent, and photographically reproducible. For further information, click here
  6. Where can I get the DBE application forms?
    They are on this website at: DBE Certification.
  7. I�m SDB / 8(a) certified. Do I need to complete the DBE Application Form as well?
    You are required to fill out the UCP application form and submit it with required documents to DMBE. Currently there is no MOU between USDOT and SDB to allow us to modify the DBE application process.
  8. I�m DBE certified in my Home State. Do I need to complete a new application for Virginia?
    Yes. You need to make a new application in Virginia.
  9. Why do I need to send all these supporting documents?
    We have to ascertain not only who owns the company, but also who controls it on a daily basis. Additionally, we have to check Personal Networth and Company size, in order to comply with the Federal Regulations. If we are challenged on our certification, whether by Federal auditors or a competitor company, we need the documentation on file to support our decisions. Personal financial information is confidential to the DBE Program and may not be disclosed otherwise by us, even in response to a Freedom of Information request.
  10. What is the purpose of an �Onsite Visit�?
    The main purpose is to confirm what was written in the application and supporting documentation. It gives us a chance to see the business facilities, understand the daily management processes, and answer any remaining questions we have about a company�s eligibility. It gives the company owners the chance to talk face to face with someone who knows about the DBE Program and can answer questions or give other contact information.
  11. How long does the DBE application process take?
    It is likely to take 90 days after we receive all the information and documentation. That includes the time for reviewing the file, making an Onsite Visit and for you to work through the Orientation materials. Most delays are caused by incomplete information or missing documentation.
  12. What business and technical assistance is available to DBE Companies?
    We publish a monthly VDMBE Opportunities Bulletin. VDOT also has a webpage for Business Opportunities. We have Regional Field Officers in our Service Division. They can help with marketing assistance, assistance with resolving business related issues, assessments to determine the strength and weaknesses of firms, preparation of bonding and loan applications, bid opportunity referrals, and help in the preparation of VDOT applications (prequalification and certification). They can also give assistance with technical construction related problems, in reviewing and analyzing highway projects and monitoring pre and post bid activities, and individualized and group training sessions (estimating, bidding, plan reading, and financial statements and marketing).

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Other Questions

  1. What is eVA?
    eVA is Virginia's online, electronic procurement system. eVA is used by more than 13,000 state agency and local government buyers to announce bidding opportunities, get quotes and place orders for goods and services. By registering with eVA, you'll become part of a community of more than 45,000 businesses offering quality goods and services to the Commonwealth. Learn more about eVA at http://www.eva.virginia.gov/vendors/index.htm.
  2. What is Ariba?
    The Ariba system is part of eVA and used to send orders electronically. If you select Electronic as your preferred Order Method when registering with eVA, you will be asked to create an ARIBA account. By registering with Ariba you'll also gain access to Ariba’s vast network of both public and private buying communities, to whom you may also market your goods and services. For more information about registering with eVA and Ariba, visit http://www.eva.virginia.gov/register/vendorreg.htm.
  3. My business is not based in Virginia. Can I still become certified?
    Businesses that are not incorporated or based in Virginia (called “foreign” entities) are not eligible to participate in the Virginia SWaM Procurement Initiative if their home state denies certification to Virginia-based SWaM businesses or provide preferences for small, women- or minority-owned businesses based in that state that is not available to Virginia-based businesses. Otherwise, non-Virginia businesses must satisfy the eligibility criteria of the SWaM Program, and are required to register with the State Corporation Commission. For your specific business type, you should register or obtain the following:
    • Corporations: Certificate of Authority to Transact Business in Virginia
    • Limited Liability Companies: Certificate of Registration of a Foreign Limited Liability Company
    • Limited Partnerships: Statement of Registration of a Foreign Limited Partnership
    • Partnerships: Statement of Foreign Partnership Authority
    • Limited Liability Partnerships: Statement of Registration as a Foreign Limited Liability Partnership
  1. Do I have to send the original documents?
    No. Do not send your original documents, except for the signed application form.
  2. If I have questions or need help?
    Do not hesitate to contact the Department of Minority Business Enterprise at (804) 786-6585. You can also contact us via email at dmbe@dmbe.virginia.gov or read the Frequently Asked Questions about certification on our website at www.dmbe.virginia.gov.
  3. Is there someone that I can speak to directly or in my area?
    The Department of Minority Business Enterprise has satellite offices across the state staffed with individuals trained in providing assistance to individuals interested in doing business with the Commonwealth:

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