DBE Certifications in Virginia

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certifications in Virginia

In Virginia, businesses and organizations that are majority owned by ‘disadvantaged’ members of the population could qualify as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and can be awarded a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification. This signification is exclusive to businesses that are at least 51% owned and operated by minorities who are at a social and economic disadvantage; this includes women, veterans or other minority segments of the Virginia population such as people with disabilities. Additionally, the business must be a for-profit enterprise and fit within the terms of the Small Business Administration size requirements.

The state of Virginia is not limited to just DBE certifications as it offers certifications for Small, Woman-owned, Minority Businesses, Employment Service Organizations and other sectors such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities or Service Disabled Veterans.

Throughout the state of Virginia, there are numerous opportunities for businesses to use state programs available to improve and enhance participation of businesses throughout the state. Below you will find more detailed information about each of the certification programs available in Virginia as well as links for applications and requirements.

Statewide Certification Programs

n the state of Virginia, the certification division is responsible for all certifications that will be awarded to businesses who qualify the specified requirements. The purpose of the certification division is to ensure that Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE); Small, Woman-owned, Minority Businesses (SWaM), and Employment Service Organizations (ESO) are certified so that they can be included in participating in Virginia’s acquisition and contracting opportunities.

The certification division breaks down into three categories: Small, Woman-owned, Minority Business (SWaM) certifications, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) certifications and Transportation Business Development certifications.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)

  1. The state of Virginia offers two certification agencies as options for businesses at least 51% owned by members of the population who are at a social and economic disadvantage; this sector of the population includes women, minorities, veterans or people with disabilities. The purpose of the federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program is to increase certified DBEs’ participation in federal sectors such as the US Department of Transportation. These projects usually entail heavy labor such as construction and designing roads, bridges or railroads. The two certification agencies can be found as followed:

    Click on the link below to apply:

    All applications must be submitted using this electronic form:


    Transportation Business Development Assistance

    If you are looking to become a DBE firm that participates in the transportation business that is federally funded, the department offers specialized management as well as technical assistance to your firm. The main goal of providing assistance is to help provide training and help to DBEs to help bolster activity in the program and help the DBEs grow into self-sufficient organizations that can compete and participate in federally-assisted highway projects.

Small, Woman-owned, and Minority Business (SWAM)

The Small, Woman-owned, and Minority Business certification program is a state program that is at least 51% owned and operated by women in effort to increase the participation of SWaMs into state-funded projects.

The Small, Woman, and Minority Business application is also used for three other enterprises searching for certification in Virginia. They are as followed:

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)

Historically black colleges and universities are any college that were established before 1964 with the mission to educate black Americans. These colleges must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary of Education. Percentage of ownership by minorities is not a factor.

Service Disabled Veterans (SDV)

Enterprises and businesses that are owned by veterans who were disabled due to service can obtain a Service Disabled Veterans (SDV) status in the SWaM database. This is not a separate certification and businesses who intend to apply must be certified by the Virginia Department of Veteran Services.

Micro Business Certification

To qualify as a micro business, you must first be certified as a small business according to 7VAC13-20-40 and your business or enterprise must consist of 25 or fewer employees with an annual average gross receipts of $3 million or less averaged within the last three years. To apply to become a certified micro business in the state of Virginia, click here.

If you are a SWaM, HBCU, SDV or a certified micro business, click on the link below to apply.


Employment Service Organization

An Employment Service Organization is a business or organization providing a community with community-employment service to individuals with disabilities that have been approved by Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities is an accredited vendor of the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). To apply, click on the application form below.