How to Register on SAM.gov

Prior to beginning to venture into contracting with any federal agency, your business must first register with Sam.gov. But, it’s not as simple as 1-2-3. In order to make the process as smooth as possible, we put together information to help you understand exactly what SAM.gov is and what you can expect during registration.  

What is SAM.Gov?

Sam.gov was launched in 2012 under the Obama administration as the System for Award Management (SAM). Businesses of all sizes and types register within the system to do business with the federal government. This includes listing contract opportunities, capturing contractor performance, viewing contract data, conducting subcontractor reporting, and more. 

Previously, businesses were required to register with multiple other systems, making it difficult for any new business to quickly and successfully sign up. Prior to 2012, businesses were required to register with the following:

  • Central Contractor Registration (CCR)
  • Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA)
  • Excluded Parties List System (EPLS)

The federal government’s goal with this overhaul was to leverage federal data and information into a single, unified system. This benefits both the federal agencies and the business contracting with said agencies. 

Since consolidating these systems, updates continue to be made to SAM.gov on a regular basis.. Just earlier this year, for instance, SAM.gov integrated with beta.SAM.gov, pushing the platform even further to become a more “user-friendly” experience. Now, no matter the size of the business, it is easier than ever before to register and view open federal contracts. 

Interested in landing government contracts, but unsure where to start? 
Find out Why Your Local Agency RFPs Matter to begin your journey right!

At this time, state and local governments do not require businesses to register with Sam.gov. Although, state bids, at times, can leverage your SAM.gov registration. For instance, when your small business registers with SAM.gov, the information you provide is used to populate the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) database. The DSBS database is where government agencies go to find small business contractors for any upcoming projects. It is maintained by the SBA and leveraged by state, local and federal government agencies to find local small businesses.

As government agencies push to contract with more small and disadvantaged businesses, registering with SAM.gov helps create competition and may lead to discovering unknown opportunities for your business in your area.

How does my business register?

Although SAM.gov continues to make improvements to the registration process, it can still feel archaic. As a business owner that is ready to begin contracting with the federal government, it is highly recommended to begin the registration process as quickly as possible. Do not delay registering as you are likely to run into “unknowns” that can hold you back from moving forward. 

Sidenote: Even some of our brightest and most experienced customers call The Bid Lab to help guide them through the registration process. You must always remember that although the government is making strides, they are still behind in the technological advancements from Silicon Valley, or the like!

Here is some helpful information to know about registering your business with SAM.gov:
  • It’s FREE! No service charges. No registration fees. We make note of this because there are online businesses that charge fees to utilize their services (as middlemen) to sign your business up. Begin the registration process at: Sam.gov/Home
  • Business Information. You will need, at a minimum, the following:
    • banking information
    • taxpayer identification number
    • sales per year average for the past three (3) years
    • total number of staff (full & part-time) for the past twelve (12) months
    • point of contact information including phone numbers, addresses, and emails
  • NAICS code. The North American Industry Classification System is used by federal statistical agencies to classify businesses for the purposes of collecting, analyzing, and publishing data related to the U.S. business economy. Visit their website to classify your business into one (1) or more of the listed categories. 
  • Federal Supply Class Codes. This four (4)-digit code is used to group commodities into groups and/or classes. The United States government uses these codes to describe the products, services, and R&D they have purchased to gain an understanding of what they purchase and from whom. 
  • DUNS Number. Obtaining a Dun & Bradstreet number is completely free and acts like a personal social security number for your business. 
  • CAGE Code. The Commercial and Government Entity Code is a five (5)-character ID number that is necessary for any company seeking to win federal government contracts. 
  • Notarized Letter. All new registrations to SAM.gov are required to submit a notarized letter appointing an “Entity Administrator.” It is important to make sure that the person who is designated the “Entity Administrator” is someone who can make commitments on behalf of the company. Typically this is a person who holds an executive, officer, or partner position. This letter will need to include a wet signature and be mailed to the designated address listed within the registration. 

Important Sam.gov Registration Information

Be Prepared. Once you begin the registration process, do note that you cannot move forward to the ‘next page’ until all of the information is filled out on that current page. Because of this, it is very important to begin the registration process as fully prepared as possible. 

Be Congruent. It is important to note that all the information you provide should be identical across all documents. For example, if your address lists 9 East Avenue, do not write 9 E. Avenue on an attachment.  Keep your information the same across all platforms so your registration is not held up. 

Be Patient. Unfortunately, in our experience, response times fluctuate between organizations. Per information found within each organization you can expect a response in:

  • up to 2 weeks for SAM.gov
  • up to 10 days for CAGE Code
  • up to 1 day for DUNS Number

To make the process easier for businesses, SAM.gov allows businesses to register for the CAGE Code within the registration process. Small and disadvantaged businesses can register with the SBA during the SAM.gov enrollment as well. 

Curious to know how RFPs differ between the Public vs. Private Sectors? Check out this article!

Be Diligent. You will notice during the registration process that SAM.gov asks businesses to confirm that you’ve read all the laws and regulations associated with registration.  As with agreeing to any terms and conditions, while they  are fine print legalities, they are highly important to take note of. There are over 500 laws and regulations that cannot be edited or formatted to meet your business needs. Instead, these read like terms and conditions that your business will be legally bound to when signing up.

Sometimes when responding to an RFP, the federal procurement team will not list any additional conditions within the RFP itself as your business has agreed to them previously on the SAM.gov site. Be sure to save yourself time and verify your business can meet the requirements you are legally bound to when signing up. 

Be Organized. Finally, we highly recommend keeping a notepad next to you while completing the Sam.gov registration process. As the platform continues to work out kinks, it currently does not alert users to save specific information that will be asked again later. But, from doing it hundreds of times, The Bid Lab knows that you need to save any codes, passwords, or pin numbers that the registration asks you to create. Likely, you will be asked to input that information again a few pages into the process. 

The Bid Lab Can Help

The Bid Lab helps our clients navigate SAM.gov to ensure they have all the proper information to make their registration a successful one. If your business is would like to get into the federal procurement game, we can get you teed up! Our Bid Finder service will help source the right bid, while our Bid Manager service will help guide your team through the entire response process. We will further translate RFP terminology into easily digestible words so you can feel confident with your response. So, call us today at 1-844-424-3522 for a free consultation! Or schedule an appointment via our contact page. We look forward to making your response process a positive and informative one!


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