Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification (DBE)

What is the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program (DBE)?

Local governments that receive funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) are required to have a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program.

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program's goal is to increase participation of firms owned by disadvantaged individuals in all federal aid and state transportation facility contracts. At least 10% of federal highway and transit funds will be contracted with disadvantaged small business operators.


  • Listed in the state DBE Directories that are distributed among prime contractors
  • Earn subcontracts
  • Receive information regarding upcoming projects from prime contractors


  • Owner is socially or economically disadvantaged*
  • Owners have a net worth of less than $250,000
  • Business meets applicable size standards for small business concerns
  • Business is at least two years old (may be waived)
  • There is reasonable potential for success

How to join

Check your state's Department of Transportation web site for relevant information on application requirements and procedures.

*As defined by the SBA, socially and economically disadvantaged groups include: Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians), Asian Pacific Americans (persons with origins from Japan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Samoa, Guam, U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands [Republic of Palau], Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Laos, Cambodia [Kampuchea], Taiwan; Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Macao, Hong Kong, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, or Nauru; Subcontinent Asian Americans (persons with origins from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, the Maldives Islands or Nepal), and Members of other groups designated by the SBA.