Prepare to Apply & Register

Prepare an Application Submit, Track & View Application Find & Initiate an Application Prepare to apply & Register Prepare, Validate & Submit Application Track an Application

Key Take-Aways:

  • Register Early! Registration is a multi-step process that can take 8 weeks or more and MUST be completed before the submission deadline.
  • Organizations must be registered with SAM, and eRA Commons. Additionally the SAM registration must renewed annually. Organizations should be sure to complete the renewal process well in advance of any submission date that is close to their renewal date.
  • PIs must be registered in eRA Commons and affiliated in Commons with the applicant organization.
  • The registration process is not sequential. As soon as an organization has obtained its DUNS number, it can begin registering with SAM and then and eRA Commons.
  • Visit the Download Software page to obtain the software needed to download, view, and complete the application forms.




On This Page:
Know Your Role

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD/PIs), Auhtorized Organization Representatives (AORs) and Signing Officials (SOs) all have a role to play in the submission process. Learn more

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Select Approach

Applicant organizations must determine how best to submit their application(s) to NIH via Applicant organizations can choose from one of the following options:

  • Forms-Based Submission
    Organizations download and complete application forms from These forms require the use of a compatible version of Adobe Reader, which can be can be downloaded free of charge through the Adobe Reader page of the website.
    NIH's web-based service for the preparation and submission of grant applications to and ultimately NIH. At this time, ASSIST is only available for the submission of mult-project grant applications
  • System-to-System Solutions
    Organizations create their own technical solution for sending grant application data directly to using predefined XML data datastreams.
  • Service Providers
    Applicant organizations or individuals may choose to establish an agreement with an established commercial company (known as a Service Provider) that has a system-to-system interface with to submit applications on their behalf. Service Providers offer a wide range of services — from low-cost, single transaction options through full scale, end-to-end grants management solutions. These solutions are an alternative to using’s forms-based approach and offer benefits such as error-checking based on NIH business rules prior to submission and the ability to print the entire application before submission.

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Obtain Software

Adobe Reader
Adobe Reader software is needed to view and complete the application forms and also to view the assembled application image in eRA Commons after submission. Users can identify and download compatible versions of Adobe Reader by visiting the Adobe Reader  page on the website.

Creating PDFs
NIH requires that all application attachments be submitted in PDF format. Users must have PDF creation software installed in order to create the necessary PDFs. has published a list of recommended PDF Conversion Programs to assist you in obtaining the necessary software. To avoid PDF problems, keep these guidelines in mind.

orange arrow For more information, see our list of Software FAQs

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Prior to submitting a grant application online through to NIH, an applicant organization must complete registrations for System for Award Management (SAM), and eRA Commons. Having an active registration with SAM (which must be renewed yearly), is required before registering with or submitting an application Principal Investigators do not have to register at, but must register with Commons. Please view an overview of steps for registering (PDF - 110 KB) in both Commons and to learn more.

Each registration is a multi-step process. Completing both registrations can take up to 6 weeks so be sure to start early!

New businesses [i.e. those applying to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to complete the System for Award Management (, formerly Central Contractor Registration (CCR) registration] should start the process at least two months (eight weeks) prior to the grant submission date.

  • Important tips
    • If an applicant has started the eRA Commons registration process at least two weeks in advance of the submission date, NIH will consider it a “good faith” effort to prepare for electronic submission and the applicant will not be penalized for any NIH-caused registration processing delay.
    • The applicant organization must include its DUNS number in its Institutional Profile in the eRA Commons. This DUNS number must match the DUNS number provided at System for Award Management (, formerly Central Contractor Registration (CCR) registration with and the DUNS number used to complete any Federal Grant Application.
    • NIH requires the Principal Investigator to fill in his or her Commons User ID in the PD/PI section Credential log-in field on the Senior/Key Person Profile Component.

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View Prepare to Apply & Registration FAQs