How to Certify a Business as "Woman Owned"

You can certify a business as "woman owned" in two ways: You can self-certify, or you can get certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council or the National Women Business Owners Corporation. A private business that is at least 51 percent owned by a woman or women can be certified as "woman owned." If a business is publicly traded, at least 51 percent of the stock must be held by female stockholders to receive this certification.

Visit the Central Contractor Registration website to self-certify your business. Have ready your Data Universal Numbering System number, your tax identification number, your Electronic Funds Transfer number (if you want to bid on federal contracts) and statistical information about your business, including how many employees you have and how much money your business has made over the past three years. There is no application fee.

Go to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council website to start its certification process. You can download a hard copy of the application to mail in, but it is only good for 90 days. After you submit the online application, the organization will send you an email message with information regarding where to send additional documentation. Dozens of documents may be required for certification depending on whether you are a sole proprietor, run a franchise or have employees. The application fee varies according to the type of business you own and the region you live in.

Apply for certification through the National Women Business Owners Corporation by downloading an application from its website and mailing in the necessary documents or by requesting an "application kit." The organization will send you an application, a binder for all your documents and other checklists to help you gather everything you need for certification. The application fee is $350.