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Before providing geologic services in a state, firms are required to meet a number of licensing and registration requirements. Although relatively few states issue geology licenses to firms, business entities offering geologic services may be subject to ownership and individual licensing requirements.
In states where a firm license is required, firms must typically designate an employee as the geologist in responsible charge of all geological activities. The geologist in charge is generally required to have an active professional geologist license in the state where the firm license is being issued.
License application requirements vary by state, but many applications ask for:
Business entity information
A list of officers or owners of the firm
A certificate of authority (if a foreign entity)
A certificate of good standing from the secretary of state
Firms operating in more than one location within the same state will likely also need to provide geologist-in-charge and contact information for each of their branch office locations. In some states, each branch office must obtain its own firm registration or license.
Entities that offer engineering or land surveying services in addition to geologic services will typically need a separate license for each professional service they provide. A few states do, however, issue design firm licenses that cover a multitude of engineering disciplines, as well as architecture and land surveying, under a single license.
Geology firms pursuing projects outside of their home state should expect to have to register with the board of geologists, secretary of state, and sometimes the department of revenue before providing services in a new state. In states with no licensing requirement for businesses, firms should still make sure that they are clear to operate in the jurisdiction under their entity type and that there is a licensed professional geologist in charge of all geology-related services for the firm.
For states with a licensing requirement for firms, the order of the licensing process varies. Some states require firms to foreign qualify their business entity with the secretary of state before applying for a geology firm license, while others give firms the flexibility to complete these registrations in the order they choose.
Firms should also apply for any necessary tax-related registrations before providing geologic services in a state. Corporate income tax, withholding tax, and unemployment insurance tax registrations are commonly required when doing business in a new state.
After licenses and registrations are obtained, firms must file renewals to remain in good standing. Geology firm licenses renew on an annual or biennial basis in every state except for New York, which requires firms to renew their license every three years. Along with license renewal, firms may also need to submit annual reports to maintain their entity registration with the secretary of state.
In addition to these structured renewal events, firms must also report address, contact information, qualifying individual, and ownership changes as they occur. States typically require these types of changes to be reported within 10 or 20 days of their occurrence.
Firms should also track continuing education requirements to ensure that their qualifying individuals meet their individual license renewal requirements. Geologists in charge who fail to meet renewal requirements will jeopardize the good standing of the firm license.
A loss of good standing with the board of geologists or secretary of state typically results in the payment of penalty fees to reinstate, and registrations left delinquent for long enough can become dissolved entirely. Maintaining compliance in these areas is the key to avoiding unnecessary penalties and preventing costly delays caused by delinquent registrations.
Keeping up with each state’s requirements, tracking renewals, and submitting the applications on time are critical to avoiding penalties. Our compliance software and services can help you keep track of varying jurisdiction requirements and relevant updates to state laws.
50-State Chart of Geology Firm License Requirements
Geoscience Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Wyoming
Design Firm - Engineering firm registration is sometimes grouped with architecture and land surveying on a single “design firm” application form.
EI (Engineering Intern) - A term also used to describe an Engineer in Training.
EIT (Engineer in Training) - A professional designation granted upon having completed at least 3 years of school at an ABET-accredited university and having passed the FE exam.
FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) - An exam testing on basic engineering principles that is required to become an engineer in training.
PE (Professional Engineer or 'Principles and Practice in Engineering') - Means either Professional Engineer or refers to the Principles and Practice in Engineering exam that is a prerequisite for an engineering license.
Reciprocity - When a licensed engineer in one state can provide documentation (often an NCEES Record) to more easily apply for a license in another jurisdiction.
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