Earlier this year states began implementing the Interstate Certification (49 CFR 26.85) process, a change made at Federal level to the UCP (Unified Certification Program). As of mid-June, twenty of fifty states – Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia – had begun requesting that Out-of-State businesses holding DBE status in their Home-State seek certification using this new process.

The standard requirements for this process include providing the certifier with:

  • A complete copy of your Home-State application form, all supporting documents, and any other information related to your firm’s certification that you submitted to your Home-State or any other state.
    • This includes affidavits of no change and any notices of changes that you have submitted to your Home-State, as well as any correspondence you have had with your Home-State UCP or any other recipient concerning your application or status as a DBE firm.
  • Any notices or correspondence from states other than your Home-State relating to your status as an applicant or certified DBE in those states.
    • If you have been denied certification or were decertified in another state, or are subject to a decertification action there, you must inform the certifier of this fact and provide all documentation concerning this action.
  • If you have filed a certification appeal with USDOT, you must inform the certifier of the fact and provide your letter of appeal and USDOT’s response.
  • A signed and notarized Interstate Affidavit

As with the UCP program, each state can and will interpret the standard requirements differently and because of this the various states mentioned above have requested additional information and/or attachments to be provided.  Our research to date indicates that each state requests some combination of the following supplemental information or supporting attachments:

  • Copies of personal federal tax returns for the most recent two or three years
  • Copies of business federal tax returns for the most recent three years
  • Complete current (within last 90 days) Personal Net Worth form
  • The on‐site report (aka the report from your site visit) from your Home-State
  • A copy of the latest letter of certification from your Home-State
  • By-Laws
  • Operating Agreements
  • Balance Sheet or Income Statement for the last tax year
  • Appropriate state licenses and registrations
  • W9 Form
  • Home-State UCP contact information (phone, email)

And some states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts; have interstate certification request forms that need to be filled out. North Dakota was the only state we found that allows the Out-of-State business to choose how to apply – with the new interstate process or using their standard UCP process. Then there is the state of Oregon that requires their standard UCP process be followed if your Home-State application date is older than six months.

TIP: Carefully review the information provided by the Out-of-State certifier about their Interstate Certification process.

So what does this all mean for the DBE? The Interstate Certification process is meant to simplify the overall UCP process, but for businesses that have held DBE certification for a number of years, like ours; it might actually complicate it.

Case in point, we’ve been certified in our Home-State since 2002. If we were going to apply for DBE status in another state using the new Interstate Certification process we’d need to supply twelve years of correspondence. We’ve been keeping electronic copies of our financial documents since 2000 so we’d be able to recreate most our original attachments from our initial certification, but did we keep a copy of our completed application? No. Have we kept copies of all the correspondence with our Home-State? No. In fact, we haven’t even kept the hard copies our letters of certification. Thank goodness we scanned them, and that we were able to get a copy of our completed initial application from our Home-State certifier.

TIP: We would recommend if you have an older DBE certification and do not have copy of your completed initial application that you contact your Home-State certifier and find out if they can supply you with one.

Because of the introduction of the Interstate Certification process we’ve been scanning all of the update requests we’ve received this year (we hold 14 other certifications, either DBE or WBE) because it is unclear if this new process will require us to provide a copy of their requests along with a copy of our responses to them. We haven’t been certified by all of them for twelve years – more like 8-10 years – but again, we have not kept all that correspondence; as there was no need to before.

TIP: If you have any questions about what documents you need to provide to the Out-of-State certifier, then pick up the phone, call and ask them for clarification.

We get the idea behind the interstate initiative. They want to make sure the information you’re providing to your Home-State and other UCP certifiers is consistent, but how much is too much? If we take out the WBE certifications we hold, since it appears that only DBE certification information needs to be sent, that still leaves us with seven other certifications (with anywhere from 2-10 years of correspondence) we have to provide information on.

We could use several reams of paper and cartridges printing up all applications, annual updates, attachments and correspondence for all our certifications. And the shipping fees, shudder to think!

TIP: Contact the Out-of-State certifier and find out if the requested documentation can be provided on a CD or flash drive.

The process might have changed, but as we’ve discussed before the reasons for a business to seek certification have not. There might be hiccups as the Interstate Certification process gets implemented, but the goal remains the same.