Certification FAQ

How can I apply for Ethnic Minority Certification? Please review the information found here. Click here to view the tutorial.


How can I apply for certification if I do not have internet access and/or email?

  • Internet access and e-mail are integral part of communicating with corporate members and receiving information about opportunities. We strongly encourage you to consider applying for certification once you have consistent access to internet and a viable e-mail address. We would also like for you to consider attending the Pre-Certification Workshop that happens the 1st Thursday at 11:00 a.m. at our offices. Because the certification application is only online, companies will need a working email address and regular internet access. Companies that benefit most from certification have established business operations and are able to provide goods and services to Fortune 500 companies or their prime suppliers. If the application process or fees are too demanding, HMSDC strongly suggests that you develop your business and consider applying for certification at a future date.

How long does the certification process take?

  • The certification process can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 90 days. HMSDC is currently averaging a 30 day completion rate from the time a completed application is submitted online with all of the required documentation.

How much does certification cost?

  • Certification/Recertification Fees are based on the applicant’s gross receipts.
Category Online Amount Expedited
Class 1: $0 – $999,999 $250 $600
Class 2: $1M – $9,999,999M $400 $750
Class 3: $10M – $49,999,999M $650 $1000
Class 4: $50M – above $800 $1150

**An expedited is a ten (10) day processing period from the time the applicant has completed and submitted payment, the application and all supporting documents are in the online system.


Does HMSDC certify women-owned businesses?

  • We are an ethnic based certification entity. If the woman owned business is an ethnic minority, she is eligible for HMSDC’s certification.

Does HMSDC certify Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs)?

  • Unfortunately, HMSDC does not certify SDBs.We are an ethnic based organization.

Does HMSDC certify Joint Ventures?

  • HMSDC certifies companies that are created as a result of a joint venture. For more information, we would strongly suggest that you attend the MBE Pre-Certification Workshop that is the 1st Thursday of every month at 11:00 a.m.

During the Certification Process, does HMSDC require a site visit? What if I have a home-based business?

  • Site visits are a mandatory part of the certification process. Site Visits are unscheduled and unannounced. Your site visit will be conducted at your company’s headquarters by HMSDC staff. If you have a home-based office, a site visit is still required. Applications will not be approved without a completed site visit.

How long is my certification valid and when do I have to renew my certification?

  • Your certification is valid for one calendar year. You can begin recertifying 90 days prior to your expiration date. Click here to review the steps on how to recertify with HMSDC.

How do I recertify if I do not have my username or password?

  • The username is the e-mail address associated with the file. If you forgot your password, click the forgot your password button.

If I apply for certification and am denied (or if I am decertified), is there an appeal process?

  • Yes, there is an appeal process. Applicants have 30 days to appeal the decision in a written format. Once your appeal is considered and the result is unfavorable, the applicant will not be able to apply for certification for one year from the date of the original decision.

Who has access to my application?

  • The HMSDC staff and the certification compliance committee has access to your application. Everyone who has access to the applicant’s information must sign a confidentiality agreement yearly.

Who qualifies for Ethnic Minority Certification through HMSDC?

  • HMSDC certifies any for-profit business located in the Houston area that is 51% or more ethnic minority-owned, operated and controlled by a U.S. citizen (s), and authorized by the State and County to do business. Click here for additional criteria and see below for which groups the National MSDC considers ethnic minorities and U.S. citizens.

Who does the National MSDC accept as an ethnic minority?

  • Ethnic Minority Certification is granted to companies that are owned, operated and controlled by U.S. citizens who belong to one or more of the following minority groups (to qualify for certification, a minority business owner must provide documentation to support the claim that they possess 1/4 or 25% minimum of the following ethnicities):
Asian-Indian A U.S. citizen whose origins are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Asian-Pacific A U.S. citizen whose origins are from Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific or the Northern Marianas.
African- American A U.S. citizen having origins in any of the Black racial groups of sub-Saharan Africa.
Hispanic A U.S. citizen of true-born Hispanic heritage, from any of the Spanish-speaking areas of the following regions: Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Basin only. Brazilians shall be listed under Hispanic designation for review and certification purposes.
Native American A person who is an American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut and Native Hawaiian, and regarded as such by the community of which the person claims to be a part. A Native American Indian must be documented members of a North American tribe, band or otherwise organized group of native people who are indigenous to the continental United States and proof can be provided through a Native American Blood Degree Certificate (i.e., tribal registry letter, tribal roll register number)

The National MSDC certifies based on bloodline NOT nationality.


Do minority business owners have to be U.S. citizens to qualify for certification?

  • Yes. According to the National MSDC, US citizenship is one of the criterion for certification. Permanent residents and Green Card holders do not qualify.

Am I eligible for certification if I recently started my business?

  • Yes. We would strongly encourage the applicant to consider attending the Pre-Certification Workshop that happens the 1st Thursday at 11:00 a.m. at our offices.

What additional documents should I submit with my MBE application?

  • Click here for a list of documentation and helpful tips for ensuring an expedited process.

Why does HMSDC ask for so many documents and require that applicants complete such a lengthy application form?

  • The certification requirements were established by the National MSDC and major corporations. HMSDC is simply implementing the requirements as established by your potential customer to vet if the company meets the criteria.

What financial statements should an MBE applicant submit?

  • 2 years of tax returns, balance sheet, income statement and profit and loss statements are required for certification. Pro-forma statements are not acceptable for the purpose of certification with HMSDC.

What happens after I become certified?

  • Upon approval by the HMSDC Board of Directors, you will receive an official certificate, certification number, and welcome letter. You will also gain access to the directory of HMSDC Corporate Members , which contains the contact information for corporate buyers and Supplier Diversity professionals in our network. In addition, you will be able to access current corporate and government bid, as well as attend MBE-only events and Committee meetings.

Will I receive a contract based solely on my certification?

  • Unfortunately, we do not guarantee contracts. However, we have developed a suggested Pathway to Success for MBEs. Active participation, Pathways to Excellence, current information and a strong value proposition are suggestive approaches to attract corporations to MBEs.

What changes would affect my certification status?

  • If a change occurs in your business, it is your responsibility to inform HMSDC within thirty (30) days. The following is a list of common situations:
    • Change in ownership, management, control, or operations
    • Relocation of a business
    • Change of products or services

If I become certified through HMSDC, will I also be certified through the National MSDC?

  • Yes, the certification is a national certification that is recognized throughout the US. The National Minority Supplier Development Council is comprised of 23 Regional Councils like HMSDC, 12,000 minority businesses, and over 460 National Corporate Members, including most of America’s largest publicly-owned, privately-owned and foreign-owned companies, as well as universities, hospitals, and other buying institutions.