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Documents Needed for DBE Certification

Deborah Gallant
March 1, 2024

When applying for certification as a DBE, you’ll be asked to supply specific information and documentation to ensure your business meets qualifications. Sue Broadus, Program Manager of Pittsburgh Regional Transit, one of five certifying organizations in Pennsylvania, explains the process in detail, including what you’ll need to have to complete your application in the video. She also includes expert insight you won’t find anywhere else. It’s definitely worth watching.

Then, when you’re ready to get started, ensure you have the following handy:

Basic Info 

Proof of citizenship or residency

A birth certificate, passport, or permanent residency card meets this requirement. 

Business formation documents, agreements, partnerships

Includes partnership or joint venture agreements, articles of incorporation, single member operating agreements, stock certificates and transfer letters, and executive shareholders agreements, plus minutes from shareholders and board of directors meetings. 

Startup costs

Any and all expenses related to business startup, including registering as an LLC, legal fees, the cost to build a website, subscription services, equipment purchases including a computer. Sue’s presentation goes into more detail about what to include, how, and why.

Financial info

Tax returns: personal and business

  1. Personal federal tax returns with all schedules and attachments for the past 5 years
  2. Business’s tax returns, including all schedules and attachments, for the past 5 years
  3. Tax returns for any other businesses you have an ownership interest in

Loan agreements and related documents

Signed loan agreements, security agreements, bonding forms, promissory notes and guarantees towards those notes, plus loans from family members or friends, even if they only included a verbal or handshake agreement. Sue explains more in the video.


Copies of trust agreements and the value of assets held by the business

Asset transfers

Information about any assets during the past two years.

Bank signature cards

Bank signature cards for the business’s account, or a notarized letter from the bank on letterhead showing authorized check signers. 


Equipment owned or leased, including vehicles

A list of equipment owned or leased by the business, including computers, tools for contractors, equipment leased on an as-needed basis, etc. If leased, include copies of lease agreement. Purchased vehicles, whether owned by the company or personal vehicles used for business purposes, should be included with title or bills of sale, registration, and insurance cards.

Licenses and certifications

Industry-required licenses, special certifications (e.g., asbestos abatement, engineering or architectural certifications), commercial driver's licenses (CDLs), certifications through WBEC, National Minority Suppliers Development Council, or registration as a diverse business through the state’s Department of General Services.

Employee list

Include all current employees with job titles and dates of employment.

Salary schedule

Schedule or list of salaries paid to officers, managers, owners, and/or directors of your business including draws that may not be considered a salary but are reflected in income tax. 

Real estate owned or leased

Any real estate leased or owned should also be listed and disclosed along with lease and/or purchase agreements and documentation. This includes in-home offices, if applicable.

Ready to get started?

If you looked at this list and thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of info I’ll need to gather,” you’re right (it’s also a great lesson in why it pays to keep meticulous and well-organized records!). But for certain businesses, there are real advantages to becoming certified. If you’re trying to determine whether or not to apply, read this article. And definitely watch the video

For members of Entrepreneurs Forever

Talk to members of your group and your facilitator to see if they’ve worked through the DBE certification process. You can pick up invaluable tips from people who’s “been there, done that.”

Not a member of Entrepreneurs Forever? Now sounds like the perfect time to learn more about joining this one-of-a-kind, free program just for small business owners like you.

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