Are you a woman, minority, or veteran, and do you own your own business? If so, you likely wondered how and where to register your business. To clear up the confusion, we’d like to set the registration record straight for these business types.
There is no formal government registration process for women, minority, or veteran-owned businesses that differs from the standard process all businesses follow.
Registering a business involves filing paperwork with the government to obtain certificates, licenses and permits in order to legally operate. Business registration encompasses everything from obtaining a tax ID and naming your business to applying for local business licenses.
In the past, the government monitored registration processes for certain business types, including women-owned. Though this isn’t the case anymore, it still causes confusion for these business types on where and how to register.
Today, all businesses—no matter who owns them—register through the same process.
While you don’t need to designate your business as woman, minority, or veteran-owned during business registration, you may want to announce your designation if you plan on contracting with the federal government. Some government contracts are set aside for business with specific designations — such as women, minority, or veteran owned. You must obtain a certification to designate your business as one of these business types if you want to be considered for set-aside contracts.
For more information on how to certify your business and become eligible for set-aside federal government contracts, see Business.gov’s Government Contracting Certification guide and this article on Small Business Certification: Benefits and Requirements.
Similar to the federal government, state governments set aside business opportunities through government contracts for specific business types. These contracts and their requirements differ from state to state, but typically you must be certified as a specific business type to take advantage of their programs.
Visit the State Contracting Opportunities page to find out more about your state’s certification programs.
Private, non-government agencies offer certification options for women, minority, and veteran owned businesses.
Although the federal government does not require a formal registration or certification for women, minority, or veteran-owned businesses, you can register your business with non-government organizations and certification agencies. Each certification body offers different benefits for those who qualify, including business fairs, networking opportunities, training programs, financing options and more.
For example, the Minority Business Development Agency directs minority business owners to the National Minority Supplier Development Council where they can register their business as a certified minority-owned business and taking advantage of the benefits.
For more information on certifications and available programs for your specific business type, see Business.gov guides for Minority-Owned Businesses, Women-Owned Businesses, and Veteran-Owned Businesses.