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Veteran-Owned Small Business Certification

Thanks to the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999, Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs) are eligible to receive no less than 3% of the total annual value of all government prime and subcontract awards. Not long after that, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 established a procurement program for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concerns (SDVOSBC). This procurement program allows federal contracting officers and procuring agencies to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition amongst SDVOCBCs, and if certain conditions are met, SDVOSBs are also eligible for sole source awards. In addition, the Small Business Administration formed the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Program to establish service-disabled veteran status, guidelines, and criteria to be used in federal contracting.

Whether a veteran-owned business plans to do business with the government or private sector, acknowledging a business’ veteran-owned status could be advantageous. In fact, research by the National Veteran Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) shows that 70% of Americans would prefer to do business with a veteran-owned business than one that is not veteran-owned. Third party groups like the NaVOBA provide official Veteran-Owned Business badges to let consumers know that the business has been verified, but if you plan to compete for government contracts, registering as a veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned business is necessary. Here’s how to do it:

VOSB and SDVOSB Verification

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) offer assistance for SDVOSBs and VOSBs seeking set-asides and government procurement opportunities. To learn more about the Vets First Verification Program, entrepreneurial information, acquisition resources, and outreach opportunities, visit the VA’s OSDBU page.

Eligibility

The following requirements are generally required for veteran-owned verifications and certifications, however, eligibility and requirements will vary for various parties and specific verifications and certifications. Use this list as a guide and verify eligibility with the program you seek:

  • Veteran owners must have direct, unconditional ownership of at least 51% of the company.
  • Veteran owners must have full decision making authority or control of management and day-to-day operations within the business.
  • The Veteran’s managerial experience must meet the needs required to manage the company.
  • The Veteran must hold the highest officer position.
  • The Veteran should be the highest compensated employee unless there’s a logical explanation otherwise, and such information must explain how the Veteran taking a lower salary than other employee(s) helps the business.

How to Become a Veteran-Owned Certified Business

1. Register with the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs.

If a veteran-owned business’ target market is the federal government, it’s time to register with the VA. This is the only government agency with a formal verification process. Along with an additional element of legitimacy, the VA has contracts that are first set aside for service-disabled veterans and then to veteran-owned business owners. Since the federal government doesn’t provide set asides to veteran-owned businesses, registering with the VA is a great route for veteran business owners who haven’t achieved service-disabled status.

2. Register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR).

After registering with the VA, register with the CCR to become eligible for government contracts. Veteran-applicants will need a:

a. Tax Identification Number (TIN), Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Social Security Number. Get one here.

b. North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code to which the business operates under. Find your code here.

c. DUNS number for business identification. Get one here.

3. Register as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). Along with certain qualifications, documentation, and certification, service-disabled veterans must have a letter from the Department of Veteran Affairs or discharge papers from their branch of service, which states the service-connected disability rating and range (0%-100% disability). No matter the rating, it’s important to apply, as there’s no minimum disability rating required and all applicants are eligible for the same benefits. Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses are eligible for set-aside contracts and exclusive SDVOSB competition.

4. Register with the General Services Administration (GSA). Veteran-owned business seeking large contracts with the federal government should register with the GSA. As a cataloged vendor, the GSA provides more opportunities to sell goods and services to the government.

Resources and Other Options:

1. How to get Certified as a Veteran-Owned Business by Inc. Magazine.

2. Visit NaVOBA’s State Tracker to learn which states are “Vetrepreneur-friendly.”

3. Stay tuned for NaVOBA’s Buy Veteran Program.

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