If you are planning to apply for federal funding, one of the very first things you need to do is register with the System for Award Management (SAM) and obtain a Unique Entity Identification Number (UEI).
Why It’s Important
Grants.gov is where all federal agencies post their discretionary grant opportunities. By centralizing more than 1,000 different grant programs, applicants can apply to many different federal agencies and grant programs using just one, secure login. Before applying for federal grants at grants.gov, System for Award Management (SAM) registration is required. If your organization is planning to apply for any type of federal grant, it is very important to complete the free SAM registration well in advance of the application deadline and make sure to renew it every year before the annual sam.gov renewal deadline.
The SAM registration process can take several weeks, so start early. Additionally, your entity’s SAM registration will need to be renewed every 365 days.
In the process of registering at SAM, your entity will also be assigned a Unique Entity Identification Number (UEI) . (Note: as of April 2022, the federal government replaced the use of DUNS numbers with UEI numbers to identify entities for federal grant purposes. If your entity previously registered with SAM, you can find your UEI by following these steps)
Again, in order to apply to grants through grants.gov and be eligible to receive federal grant awards, you must have completed SAM registration and obtained a UEI number for the entity you represent.
We cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is to start this process early, well ahead of any grant proposal deadlines!
Below is a simplified step-by-step summary of how the process works. For more details, download the official SAM.GOV Quick Start Guide for Financial Assistance Registrations here.
You can also find many resources at the Federal Service Desk site including a Live Chat option.
1. Visit sam.gov to register.
WARNING: Make sure you are on sam.gov. Type it directly into your browser. There are several for-profit companies that advertise themselves as SAM registration and will show up at the top of google search results. They WILL take your money and complicate the whole process. The legitimate sam.gov registration is FREE.
2. Click on the green “Get Started” button
TIP: This can be a complicated process. If you have questions or need any assistance, contact the experts at GSA. At the very bottom of the SAM page you will find help and contact links. The help link takes you to guides and FAQs, the contact link takes you to live chat and phone call options.
3. Before proceeding, read through the “Before You Get Started” information on the page and download the “Entity Registration Checklist”. Once you have all of the necessary items prepared you can proceed with registration.
4. When you have all necessary information prepared, hit the Green “Get Started” button again. You will be taken to a page to sign up for a SAM.gov login through login.gov. Once you’ve made your login.gov account you’ll be ready to sign in to SAM and proceed with your registration. You should use the email address you plan to use for all of your grants.gov correspondence in perpetuity (forever). This should be an email address your organization will ALWAYS have access to. It is incredibly difficult to gain access to SAM or Grants.gov without this email address. Once you have your login set up, you’ll be redirected to the SAM registration page.
5. The first step in the registration process will be to validate your entity. You can not be assigned a UEI number until your organization is validated. You will be instructed to search for your entity (i.e., business, non-profit, local government entity, etc.) by name. You may find you are already correctly listed in the results. If not, you will have to go through a validation process. Please be aware that if you must complete a validation process, you will likely need to attach documents that prove your legal business name, address, state of incorporation, and start year. There are detailed instructions and guides available for the validation process through the SAM.gov help pages. You’ll want to watch your email closely during the validation process. This could take several weeks. Once your entity is validated, you may then return to your SAM registration efforts.
Note! Organizations with rural addresses may be more likely to find their entity information is listed incorrectly or not at all. This situation will require an entity validation process, which we’ve covered in a separate article here. Organizations with a rural address may take a few extra weeks to process.
6. Other sections of the registration process will have you assign key “Points of Contact” and certify your adherence to certain regulatory requirements.
7. Near the end of the registration you will be asked whether or not you want your entity to be publicly searchable. Choose YES.
8. When you have completed all sections of the registration MAKE SURE YOU HIT SUBMIT! You will get a “Registration Submitted” confirmation message on the screen. IF YOU DO NOT SEE THIS CONFIRMATION MESSAGE, your registration IS NOT SUBMITTED.
9. You will receive an email from SAM.gov when your registration is active. This typically takes 7-10 business days, but can take much longer if an issue is found.
10. To finalize your entity registration, you are required to submit a notarized letter to grant access to your entity administrator within 60 days of your SAM registration.
- Navigate to www.fsd.gov
- Search the knowledge base for “How can I become the new administrator for our entity registration?”
- Download the appropriate template for “single” entity.
- Have the letter notarized and scanned,
- Submit the scanned letter to the Federal Service Desk (www.fsd.gov) by following the instructions in the knowledge base article
For more detailed information visit this FAQ Article by the Federal Service Desk.