Contractor License Frequently Asked Questions

contractor license questions

Getting your Contractor’s License can be a complicated process. Here are the most common questions about getting licensed as a contractor. Don’t see your question listed? Ask it in the comment section!

Short on time? Check out our quick Contractor License Guide.

Contractor License Questions: License

Q: When do I need a Contractor’s License?

A: Every state will differ on what actions can be performed with or without a Contractor’s License, but generally, if you do any of the following (or offer to do) then you need a license:

  • Construct, remodel, alter, or repair
  • Develop residential property
  • Flip homes
  • Move, wreck, or demolish

Check your individual state’s statues regarding what actions require a Contractor’s License.

View tutorials on how to get a contractor license.

Q: Do I need a Contractor’s License to do work to my own home?

A: No, so long as the work you are doing to your home does not affect the structural integrity of your home. You are able to do your own home repairs without a Contractor’s License.

Examples of repairs that do not require a Contractor’s License include painting, replacing carpets, adding new cabinets, and patching walls.


Contractor License Questions: Application

Q: How do I know what kind of license I need to apply for?

A: Check your state’s licensing board for specifics on licensing classifications. Certain classifications only allow certain trades to be performed, while others encompass multiple trades.

View tutorials on how to get a Contractor License

Q: How long will it take to get a license?

A: Most states, on average, will take up to 3-4 weeks for a  Contractor’s License to be issued. For out-of-state licenses, it normally takes longer.

The amount of time required to process a Contractor’s License application depends on several factors, but one factor you can control is submitting only completed paperwork. Incomplete paperwork is the biggest delay in licensing.

Q: How much does it cost to get licensed?

A: Every state will have their own licensing fees. Some states may have additional fees, like a fingerprinting fee or exam fee. Check your state’s licensing website to find out how much a license will cost you.

Q: I completed an application for a license. Am I done?

A: No. Many states require additional forms to become licensed as a contractor. Some states may even require you to take a pre-licensing education course.

Q: Do I need to take any classes or tests to get licensed as a Contractor?

A: Some states require pre-licensing classes and successful passing of a test before you can become licensed as a contractor. Some states do not require either though. Check your licensing tutorial to find out if you are required to take any pre-licensing education courses.

Q: I submitted a license application, but I have to start a job now. Is this okay?

A: No. You cannot bid, contract, or perform any contract work until you have a Contractor’s License.

Q: Can I get a temporary license?

A: Some states do allow you to get a temporary license while your permanent license is being processed. Normally, this requires you to submit a temporary license application, plus a fee, with your permanent license application.

Not all states allow temporary licenses. Check your individual state’s statutes and guidelines before assuming.

Contractor License Questions: Fingerprints and Criminal Record

Q: Do I need to be fingerprinted to apply for a Contractor’s License?

A: Some states require applicants to be fingerprinted. Check your individual state’s license guidelines to determine if you need to be fingerprinted for licensure.

Q: If I have misdemeanor convictions from years ago, do I need to list these on my application?

A: Yes. Even if your convictions were from many years ago, it is necessary to list these on your application.

Worried about a felony conviction? Check out this post on getting a contractor license with a felony.

Q: If I have a criminal record, can I automatically be denied a Contractor’s License?

A: No. Just because you have been convicted of a crime does not mean you cannot get approved for a Contractor’s License. Your criminal background will be reviewed to determine if the crimes you committed are substantially related to the duties, qualifications, and/or functions of a contractor. Every record is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Depending on your record, you might be required to provide further information regarding a past conviction.

Worried about a felony conviction? Check out this post on getting a contractor license with a felony.

contractor license frequently asked questions

Contractor License Questions: Financial Requirments

Q: Are there any financial requirements that must be met in order to qualify for a Contractor’s License?

A: Yes. All applicants for a new Contractor’s License have financial requirements. This could be in the form of working capital, or a surety bond, or both. Check your license application to determine what financial requirements you must meet to get licensed.

Q: What is a Contractor License Bond?

A: A Contractor License Bond is a type of surety bond that promises you will follow all state and federal rules and regulations when conducting business. If you fail to follow rules and regulations, someone can make a claim against your bond.

A surety bond should not be confused with an insurance policy; these are two different things. 

Not sure if you need this bond? Check out our Contractor License Bond Resource page.

See how much a contractor license bond would cost you. Get a free quote.

Q: My state requires a Contractor Surety Bond. Help!

A: Getting a Contractor Surety Bond can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Your first step to getting a bond is to contact a surety bond company. They will be able to help you get bonded.

Q: How much will a Contractor License Bond cost?

A: The price you’ll pay for your Contractor License Bond will depend on many factors, such as the total bond amount and your financial strength as shown in your credit score. You won’t have to pay your total bond amount, just a portion of it.

Contractor License Bonds can be costly, but they don’t have to be. At Surety Solutions, we let you view quotes for your bond so you can compare prices before you buy.

Get free Contractor Bond quotes, now!

Q: Can I get bonded if I have bad credit?

A: Yes, if you choose the right surety bond company. Good surety bond companies will have bad credit options for contractors who need to get bonded.

Get a bad credit bond quote.

Contractor License Questions: Changes in Business

Q: Can my spouse take over my business? Can my child?

A: Generally, your spouse can take over your business and registration.  If your child wants to take over your business, the business is considered new and your child must apply for a new registration.

Q: What do I need to do to remove something from my license (for example, if I am no longer doing ‘Sidewalk Curve Paving’)?

A: Most states will require you to fill out an application to remove something from your business. Any change to your business license requires your signature.

Q: I want to change my business entity (such as a sole owner to corporation.) What do I need to do?

A: If you want to change your business entity, you will need to apply for a new license. Contact your state licensing board to proceed.

Q: I want to move my business location. What do I need to do?

A: In most cases, a new business license application and fee must be completed and submitted. Your change of business location must also be approved.

Contractor License Questions: License Renewal

Q: Do I need to renew my Contractor’s License?

A: Yes. If you do not renew your Contractor’s License, many things can happen. You can be charged a fine, you can be considered delinquent, and your license won’t be active, meaning you could be breaking the law.

Q: How do I renew my Contractor’s License?

A: Your state should send you a renewal packet in the mail prior to your license expiration date. You must complete this renewal application and submit any necessary renewal fees before your expiration date. If you did not receive a renewal packet in the mail, contact your state licensing board.


Related links:

How To Get Your Contractor’s License in Oregon

How To Get Your Washington State Contractors License

What Does A Washington Contractor Bond Cost If I Have Bad Credit?

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