Construction Licensing Compliance

Build with confidence: Add compliance to your construction site

From residential to commercial bids, construction work requires a unique set of licenses governed by local and state authorities. Whether you are a contractor, construction business owner, site supervisor, or bidding for a new job, you will face certification and licensing requirements at every level of your career.

Adhering to professional licensing requirements is key to maintaining your legal authority to practice construction. Up-to-date construction licensing allows you to enter new markets, open new facilities, hire new employees, seek financing opportunities, and bid for new contracts and construction gigs. Failing to observe construction industry requirements can result in state imposed penalties and even delinquencies.

The good news? An experienced, dedicated compliance partner can help you take a proactive approach to maintaining construction licensure and certification. Contact Harbor Compliance today to help you simplify the professional licensing process.

The following guide contains an overview of construction licensing and specific board requirements in each state.


Overview of Requirements

A business entity offering construction services to the public typically must register with the State Contractors Board and receive a construction industry firm license. The firm license is necessary to practice construction in 35 states, and firms practicing without one can be liable for steep penalty fees. Some states do not issue construction industry licenses at the state level, but instead rely on licenses issued at the county or city government level.

Licensure for construction firms usually follows incorporation or foreign qualification of the business entity with the Secretary of State. Common legal structures for firms are corporations or professional corporations (PC), and limited liability companies (LLC) or professional LLCs. Incorporation refers to formation of the business entity, whereas foreign qualification refers to applying for a Certificate of Authority to transact business in another state.

After registration with the secretary of state, firm licenses are generally divided by the type of contracting work that a construction company might undertake. For example, Alaska has different licenses for general contracting, specialty contracting, mechanical contracting, and residential contracting. Depending on the practice areas of your firm, you may need to apply for several types of construction licenses within the same state. Applications and forms vary greatly by state and several classification types are typically available. A dedicated compliance expert can help you keep track of varying jurisdiction requirements and updated laws.

Despite the variation across state licensing boards, there are some requirements that are nearly universal. Applications almost always require the firm to incorporate or foreign qualify before applying for a construction industry license. Other common application requirements include: proof of liability and or worker’s compensation insurance, license bonds, financial statements, and proof of experience.

Many states also require firms to have at least one employee with an individual contractor license before applying for a firm license. This individual is often called the qualifying agent. In several states, the qualifying agent must submit exam scores and proof of licensure along with the firm application.

In addition to state level construction licenses, many cities and counties have their own requirements for contractors. Local licenses and permits vary greatly and can significantly delay project start dates, so it is important to learn the compliance expectations for every level of government.

Initial Registration Fees

Fees for initial licensure range from $30 to $1,050. Idaho’s business entity license is only $30, while Arizona’s combined General Commercial and Residential license comes up to $1,050. The average license cost is $225 while the most common filing fee is $300.

Renewal Requirements

Firm license renewal varies by state. Over half of the states that require firm licensure call for licenses to be renewed every two years. Almost all other state licenses renew annually. New Mexico and Michigan are two exceptions to this rule, as they require renewal filings to be made once every three years.

Like initial application fees, renewal fees also vary by state. Fees range from just $25 for some Wisconsin licenses to $600 in Nevada. Firms can expect to pay closer to the national average of $210 when applying for a license, however, the most commonly applied fee is $200.

Table of Company Licenses

Looking for construction certification requirements in a particular state? The following table summarizes construction and contractor licensing requirements across the United States. Click on any state for the licensing information specific to that state.

State Agency Initial Application License Renewal

Alabama

More info
Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors

$300 for Contractor, $150 for Subcontractor

$200

Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board

$350

$250

Alaska

More info
Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development

$300

$235

Arizona

More info
Arizona Registrar of Contractors

Varies by license type. Baseline of $580

Varies by license type. Baseline of $480

Arkansas

More info
Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board

Varies by license type. Baseline of $50

Varies by license type. Baseline of $25

California

More info
California Contractors State License Board

$480

$360

Colorado

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Connecticut

More info
Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Architectural Licensing Board

$110 for Mechanical Contractor, $500 for Major Contractor

$110 for Mechanical Contractor, $500 for Major Contractor

Delaware

More info
Delaware Department of Finance - Division of Revenue

$75

$75

District of Columbia

More info
DCRA Corporations Division

$288.20 for home improvement contractor and $654.50 for general contractor

$288.20 for home improvement contractor and $654.50 for general contractor

Florida

More info
Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board

Vary by exam date, baseline of $149

Georgia

More info
Georgia Board of Residential and General Contractors

$200

Hawaii

More info
Hawaii Board of Contractors

Varies by license type. Baseline of $305

Varies by license type. Baseline of $160

Idaho

More info
Idaho Contractors Board

$35

$25

Illinois

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Indiana

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Iowa

More info
Iowa Division of Labor

$50

$50

Kansas

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Kentucky

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Louisiana

More info
Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors

Varies by license type. Baseline of $160

Varies by license type. Baseline of $160

Maine

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Maryland

More info
Maryland Home Improvement Commission

$370 for Contractors, $170 for Subcontractors

$380.42 for Contractors, $150 for Subcontractors

Massachusetts

More info
Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security

Varies by license type. Baseline of $250

$100

Michigan

More info
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) - Licensing Division

$195

$150

Minnesota

More info
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry - Construction Codes and Licensing Division

$560 if gross receipts are less than $1 million, $660 if gross receipts are between $1 million and $5 million, and $760 if gross receipts are more than $5 million.

Varies by license type. Baseline of $565 (including recovery fund)

Mississippi

More info
Mississippi State Board of Contractors

$50 per classification for Residential, $400 + $100 for each additional classification for Commercial.

$100 for Residential, $400 for Commercial

Missouri

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Montana

More info
Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Construction Contractor Registration Unit

$53

Nebraska

More info
Nebraska Department of Labor

$40

$40

Nevada

More info
Nevada State Contractors Board

$300

$600

New Hampshire

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

New Jersey

More info
New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs - Home Improvement Contractor Section

$110

$110

New Mexico

More info
New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department: Construction Industries Division

Varies by license type. Baseline of $186

Varies by license type. Baseline of $150

New York

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

North Carolina

More info
North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors

Varies by license type. Baseline of $75

Varies by license type. Baseline of $75

North Dakota

More info
North Dakota Secretary of State

Varies by license type. Baseline of $100

Varies by license type. Baseline of $30

Ohio

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Oklahoma

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Oregon

More info
Oregon Construction Contractors Board

$325

$325

Pennsylvania

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Rhode Island

More info
Rhode Island Contractors Registration and Licensing Board

$200

$200

South Carolina

More info
South Carolina Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation - Contractors Licensing Board

$350 or $175 depending on the length of the licensing period.

$135

South Carolina Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation - Residential Builders Commission

$260

$160

South Dakota

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Tennessee

More info
Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance: Board for Licensing Contractors

$250

$200

Texas

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Utah

More info
Utah Department of Commerce - Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing

$210 for each primary classification and $110 for each additional supplemental classification.

$113

Vermont

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.

Virginia

More info
Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation: Board for Contractors

Varies by license type. Baseline of $235

Varies by license type.

Washington

More info
Washington Department of Labor and Industries - Contractor Section

$113.40

$113.40

West Virginia

More info
West Virginia Division of Labor

$90

$90

Wisconsin

More info
Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

$40 for Dwelling Contractor, $45 for Dwelling Contractor Qualifier

$25 for Dwelling Contractor, $30 for Dwelling Contractor Qualifier

Wyoming

More info

Not issued at the state level.

Not issued at the state level.


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Understanding Business Licensing Compliance

An explanation of corporate filings, tax registration, and industry-specific licensing in every state.

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Industry Resources

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.

Our firm found Harbor Compliance to be invaluable in walking us through the process of becoming registered to do business in several states. It is well worth the fee – it would have taken us weeks or months to figure out all the paperwork involved!
LorrainePartners for Architecture, Inc.
This page was last fact-checked January 6, 2016
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