Construction Licensing Compliance Guide
An excavator truck digging on a work site

California Construction Licensing

A group of construction workers on site

Licenses are typically required for individuals and businesses that provide construction industry services. This guide contains information about construction industry licensing in California.

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Company Licenses

California Construction and Contracting Company Licenses

California Asbestos Certification

More Information:

http://www.cslb.ca.gov/About_Us/Library/Forms_And_Applications.aspx

Agency:California Department of Consumer Affairs - Contractors State License Board
Notes:

To obtain this certification, a contractor must first be registered with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Fact Checked:4/27/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Application for Asbestos Certification

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$83

Fact Checked:12/4/18

Registration Renewal

Not required



Asbestos certifications do not expire as long as the holder's contractor license is active.

California Contractor License

Agency:California Contractors State License Board
Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:Yes
Bond Requirements:

  • All contractors must have a $15,000 contractor's bond on file with CSLB.
  • An additional $12,500 qualifying individual's bond must be filed for contractors that are qualified by a responsible managing employee.
  • All LLC licenses are required to obtain a $100,000 surety bond as well.
Notes:

Exemptions: 

The following projects or individuals may be exempt from licensing:

  • A project for which the combined value of labor, materials, and all other costs on one or more contracts is less than $500. Work on a larger project, may not be broken down to smaller amounts of less than $500 in an attempt to meet the $500 exemption;
  • An employee who is paid wages, who does not usually work in an independently established business, and who does not have direction or control over the performance of work or who does not determine the final results of the work or project;
  • Public personnel working on public projects;
  • Officers of a court acting within the scope of their office;
  • Public utilities working under specified conditions;
  • Oil and gas operations performed by an owner or lessee;
  • Owner-builders who build or improve existing structures on their own property if they either do the work themselves or use their own employees (paid in wages) to do the work;
  • Sale or installation of finished products that do not become a fixed part of the structure;
  • A seller of installed carpets who holds a retail furniture dealer's license but who contracts for installation of the carpet with a licensed carpet installer;
  • Security alarm company operators (licensed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services) who install, maintain, monitor, sell, alter, or service alarm systems (fire alarm company operators must be licensed by CSLB);
  • Persons whose activities consist only of installing satellite antenna systems on residential structures or property. These persons must be registered with the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair.
Fact Checked:11/14/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Application for Original Contractor License

Agency Fee:

$330 application fee + $200 license fee due after passing the exam.

Turnaround:

https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/ProcessingTimes/ProcessingTimes.aspx

Original Ink:Not required
Notarize:Not required
Penalties:
  • A contractor license is not necessary as long as you don't advertise yourself as a licensed contractor and never contract for jobs costing $500 or more in combined labor and material costs.
  • Unlicenced contracting is part of the illegal underground economy, and results in serious penalties. The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) pursues violators through its Statewide Investigative Fraud
  • Team undercover sting operations and sweeps of active job sites every week.
  • First-time offenses for contracting without a license are usually a misdemeanor, carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine, along with a potential administrative fine of $200 to $15,000.
  • Penalties increase with subsequent violations. A second conviction can mean a fine of 20 percent of the contract price of the work performed, or a $4,500 fine. Also, the unlicensed contractor can be sentenced to jail for no less than 90 days.
How to Apply:

Domestic Applicants:

  1. File entity formation documents with the California Secretary of State - Business Programs Division.
  2. File an Application for Original Contractor License with the California Contractors State License Board.
  3. Pass the relevant exam for your classification.
  4. After passing the exam, submit the required contractor's bond, proof of insurance, and license fee to the California Contractors State License Board.

Foreign Applicants:

  1. File foreign qualification documents with the California Secretary of State - Business Programs Division.
  2. File an Application for Original Contractor License with the California Contractors State License Board.
  3. Pass the relevant exam for your classification.
  4. After passing the exam, submit the required contractor's bond, proof of insurance, and license fee to the California Contractors State License Board.

Registration Renewal

Agency Fee:

$400

Due:

Biennially

Original Ink:Not required
Notarize:Not required
Notes:

The application to renew a contractor license automatically is sent to current licensees by CSLB about 60 days before an expiration date.

Fact Checked:2/4/16

California Hazardous Substance Removal Certification

More Information:

http://www.cslb.ca.gov/About_Us/Library/Forms_And_Applications.aspx

Agency:California Department of Consumer Affairs - Contractors State License Board
Fact Checked:4/27/18

Renewal Not Required

Not required



Individual Licenses

California Individual Construction and Contracting Licenses

California Asbestos Consultant Certification

More Information:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/asbestos.html

Agency:California Department of Industrial Relations - Asbestos and Carcinogen Unit
Fact Checked:9/18/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Examination application packet

Agency Fee:

$500

Fact Checked:1/30/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Renewal request form

Agency Fee:

$325

Due:

Annually by the date of issuance.

Fact Checked:1/30/20

California Asbestos Site Surveillance Technician Certification

More Information:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/asbestos.html

Agency:California Department of Industrial Relations - Asbestos and Carcinogen Unit
Fact Checked:9/18/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Examination application packet

Agency Fee:

$400

Fact Checked:1/30/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Renewal request form

Agency Fee:

$270

Due:

Annually by the date of issuance.

Fact Checked:1/30/20

California Fire/Life/Safety Electrical Technician Certification

More Information:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ecu/EleCat.html#1

Agency:California Department of Industrial Relations - Electrician Certification Program
Fact Checked:4/27/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Application for Electrician Examination and Certification

Agency Fee:

$75 application fee + $100 examination fee

Fact Checked:1/30/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Renewal Application for Electrician Certification

Agency Fee:

$100

Due:

Triennially by the date of issuance.

Fact Checked:1/30/20

California General Electrician Certification

More Information:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ecu/EleCat.html#1

Agency:California Department of Industrial Relations - Electrician Certification Program
Fact Checked:4/27/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Application for Electrician Examination and Certification

Agency Fee:

$75 application fee + $100 examination fee

Fact Checked:1/30/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Renewal Application for Electrician Certification

Agency Fee:

$100

Due:

Triennially by the date of issuance.

Fact Checked:1/30/20

California Non-Residential Lighting Technician Certification

More Information:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ecu/EleCat.html#1

Agency:California Department of Industrial Relations - Electrician Certification Program
Fact Checked:4/27/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Application for Electrician Examination and Certification

Agency Fee:

$75 application fee + $100 examination fee

Fact Checked:1/30/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Renewal Application for Electrician Certification

Agency Fee:

$100

Due:

Triennially by the date of issuance.

Fact Checked:1/30/20

California Residential Electrician Certification

More Information:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ecu/EleCat.html#1

Agency:California Department of Industrial Relations - Electrician Certification Program
Fact Checked:4/27/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Application for Electrician Examination and Certification

Agency Fee:

$75 application fee + $100 examination fee

Fact Checked:1/30/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Renewal Application for Electrician Certification

Agency Fee:

$100

Due:

Triennially by the date of issuance.

Fact Checked:1/30/20

California Voice Data Video Electrical Technician Certification

More Information:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ecu/EleCat.html#1

Agency:California Department of Industrial Relations - Electrician Certification Program
Fact Checked:4/27/18

Initial Registration

Form:

Application for Electrician Examination and Certification

Agency Fee:

$75 application fee + $100 examination fee

Fact Checked:1/30/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Renewal Application for Electrician Certification

Agency Fee:

$100

Due:

Triennially by the date of issuance.

Fact Checked:1/30/20

Explore Licensing in Other States

Associated General Contractors of America
Professional association providing advocacy and organization for construction firms and workers.

National Association of Home Builders
National association for the promotion of the housing industry.

National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies
National organization that represents and promotes the interests of state level contractor licensing agencies.

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