FAQs for WOSBs/EDWOSBs
CONSIDERING THE NEW WOSB FEDERAL CONTRACTING PROGRAM REGULATIONS
1.What is the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program?
The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program (WOSB Federal Contracting Program) was created to help provide a level playing field for women business owners. When buying goods and services, the federal government limits competition for certain contracts to women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) that participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) WOSB Federal Contracting Program. Becoming certified for the WOSB Federal Contracting Program means your business is eligible to compete for WOSB Federal Contracting Program set-aside contracts within eligible industries. These contracts are in industries where women-owned small businesses are underrepresented.
Some contracts are restricted further to EDWOSBs. The SBA maintains a list of those eligible industries and their NAICS codes.
The federal government’s goal is to award at least 5 percent of all federal contract dollars to women-owned small businesses each year.
Firms that choose not to participate in SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting Program may continue to identify as a women-owned small business in SAM.gov for the purposes of competing for other contracts. However, they WILL NOT be eligible to pursue federal contracts restricted for SBA-certified WOSBs and/or EDWOSBs.
To review eligibility requirements for the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, firms can visit the WOSB Ready website.
2.Why is the certification process for WOSBs and EDWOSBs changing?
The changes to the certification process will implement Congress’ changes to the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, as put forth in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with new WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations intended to enhance program oversight and effectiveness.
3. When do the changes to the certification process go into effect?
The new WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations were published in the Federal Register on May 11, 2020. These final regulations fully detail changes to the certification process.
4. Will currently certified WOSBs need to recertify?
a. Please see the “Currently Certified WOSBs/EDWOSBs” section below or the
certification table at sba.gov/wosbready to see if you will need to recertify.
5. Is SBA going to offer a free certification process?
a. Yes. On July 15, 2020, firms can begin submitting applications under SBA’s
new, FREE online certification process for initial processing. All WOSB Federal
Contracting Program participants will be required to create a new account and
upload all necessary documents to demonstrate their eligibility in order to compete
for WOSB Federal Contracting Program set-aside and sole-source contracts. Further
instructions for the new certification process are coming soon. On October 15,
2020, SBA will begin issuing decisions on certification.
6. Will third-party certification still be an option?
a. Yes, small businesses will still be able to utilize an approved Third-Party Certifier
(TPC), at a cost, to obtain WOSB or EDWOSB certification.
7. Will self-certification still be an option?
a. Firms must be certified in order to compete for WOSB Federal Contracting Program
set-aside contracts. Once the new WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations
go into effect, you will have to either certify through SBA’s new, FREE online
certification process or through an approved TPC, at a cost. Self-certification will
not be an option as of October 15, 2020.
8. When and how will SBA provide us with more information about the changes to the
a. We will provide regular updates on sba.gov/wosbready and through email and
9. Whom should I contact with questions about the new certification process?
a. You can find resources at sba.gov/wosbready. You also can contact your local SBA
regional and district office or Women’s Business Center by visiting sba.gov/localassistance.
10. Who can qualify as a small business?
a. In order to qualify as a WOSB or EDWOSB, a business concern must be a small
business as defined in Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 13 part 121 for its
primary industry classification. 13 CFR 127.200(a) and 13 CFR 121.105(a)(1) provide
that a business concern must be organized for profit in order to meet the definition
of a small business.
11. Does the WOSB Federal Contracting Program have a logo I can use to market my
business as a certified women-owned small business?
a. No, the SBA currently does not have an approved logo for usage by small
businesses for the WOSB or EDWOSB certifications. However, we encourage you
to include language in your marketing materials indicating that you are a WOSBcertified
12. Do I need to operate in a particular NAICS code in order to demonstrate that I am a
women-owned small business?
a. The NAICS codes are not a requirement to demonstrate that you are a womenowned
small business. Your company may qualify as a women-owned small
business provided that it meets the eligibility requirements. To qualify, one or more
women must own and control the business. The ownership must be at least 51
percent and direct and unconditional. Regulations do not require a women-owned
small business to primarily operate in an eligible NAICS code. However, if you wish
to participate in set-asides for the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, you must
offer services in one of the designated NAICS codes authorized for use under the
WOSB Federal Contracting Program. If you do not see your NAICS codes designated
for WOSB procurements, there might not be any set-aside opportunities for which
you can compete at this time.
Currently Certified WOSBs/EDWOSBs
1. I’m aware that there are upcoming changes to the WOSB Federal Contracting
Program in 2020. What will be required of me?
a. Please note that the formal certification process for the WOSB Federal Contracting
Program will be moving into a platform that will have a similar look and feel as the
current certify.sba.gov. The new platform comes with technical enhancements to
better manage the processing of WOSB/EDWOSB applications. All WOSB Federal
Contracting Program participants will be required to create a new account and
upload all necessary documents to demonstrate their eligibility. Please visit
the “Application Process” section of this FAQ for further information. Additional
guidance on the SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting Program will be available once
the new WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations are published. Please visit
our website at sba.gov/wosbready for the most up-to-date information.
2. I am a TPC-certified WOSB or EDWOSB. Do I need to recertify?
a. All firms that are certified through an approved TPC will have to create a new
account in the new certification platform and upload their TPC certificate for SBA to
complete initial processing. TPC-certified firms must recertify three years after the
date of their most recent recertification as a TPC-certified firm.
3. I am a self-certified WOSB or EDWOSB with active WOSB or EDWOSB set-aside
contracts. Do I need to recertify?
a. A firm that was eligible as a WOSB or EDWOSB at the time of offer for the contract
is considered a WOSB or EDWOSB throughout the life of the contract. For the
purposes of contracts (including multiple award contracts) with durations of more
than five years (including options), a firm must get certified by SBA or an approved
TPC prior to the end of the fifth year of the contract.
b. NOTE: On July 15, 2020, firms can begin submitting applications under the new
certification process for initial processing. All WOSB Federal Contracting Program
participants will be required to create a new account and upload all necessary
documents to demonstrate their eligibility in order to compete for WOSB Federal
Contracting Program set-aside and sole-source contracts. Further instructions for
the new certification process are coming soon. On October 15, 2020, SBA will begin
issuing decisions on certification.
4. I am a self-certified WOSB or EDWOSB with no active contracts. Do I need to
a. Self-certified firms with no active contracts need to get formally certified by SBA
under the updated process to compete for WOSB Federal Contracting Program
WOSBs/EDWOSBs Aspiring to Become Certified
1. Does my status in another certification program (CVE or 8[a]) make me certified for
a. Evidence of certification through the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for
Verification and Evaluation (CVE) or SBA’s 8(a) certification, in conjunction with
evidence that the applicant meets the additional eligibility requirements of a
WOSB or EDWOSB, will be accepted by SBA for WOSB/EDWOSB certification. Going
forward, SBA will evaluate the suitability of other potential certifiers, including new
TPCs, and other government entity certifiers. Please see the certification table at
sba.gov/wosbready for necessary documentation for each program.
2. Where can I find resources to help me prepare to do business with the federal
a. Visit sba.gov/local-assistance to connect with entities such as your local SBA office
or Women’s Business Center that can help you prepare for doing business with the
1. How can I apply to become self-certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB?
a. Currently, the WOSB Federal Contracting Program is a self-certification program
with an option to use a TPC at a cost to complete the self-certification. Once the
new WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations are enacted, you will be
able to certify through a formal SBA process free of charge. Small businesses can
continue to certify through approved TPCs at a cost. Additional guidance on the
SBA’s new certification process for the WOSB Federal Contracting Program will be
available once the new regulations are published.
b. The current self-certification process will remain available for firms until October
15, 2020, in certify.sba.gov. You can find a checklist and quick start guide to assist
you in completing the application on certify.sba.gov.
2. Once new changes are in effect for the WOSB Federal Contracting Program in 2020,
how do I apply to become SBA-certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB?
a. The new FREE SBA certification process will transition to a new online platform for
program participants that will include many technical improvements. This new
platform will be available on July 15, 2020, to begin accepting applications for the
SBA certification process. Further guidance on how to apply through this platform
will be given when it is complete.
b. All firms should be aware of the following:
i. All firms, whether they are self-certified or certified by a TPC, will need to
create a new account in the new certification platform.
ii. Firms certified by a TPC will have to upload their TPC certificate for SBA to
complete initial processing.
iii. Documents in certify.sba.gov will not transfer to the new platform. Firms with
documentation in certify.sba.gov should download their documents, make any
necessary updates, and prepare to create a new application in the new platform.
3. Once new changes are in effect for the WOSB Federal Contracting Program in 2020,
will other certifications be accepted?
a. Yes, certain other certifications will be accepted. You may be required to submit
additional information demonstrating evidence of your certification. Currently,
the SBA will accept current 8(a) participants, approved TPC certificates, and
certifications from the CVE.
i. Current 8(a) Program Participants—Upload most recent annual review letter
or 8(a) acceptance letter if the firm is in program year 1.
ii. TPC-Certified—Upload WOSB and/or EDWOSB certificate.
iii. CVE—Upload certificate and supporting documentation (based on the new
WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations).