How to get a Washington plumbing contractor license in 5 steps (& $6,000 surety bond)

Contractors advertising, bidding or performing plumbing work in the state of Washington must be licensed with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Prior to the Legislature SB-6170, contractors needed a specialty license and a certification in plumbing. However, in an effort to address the shortage of plumbers, increase training opportunities and provide more consumer protection, WA L&I now requires a separate plumbing contractor license.

Plumber fixing a sink
Contractors offering plumbing services in Washington must be licensed with the state.

Step 1: Register your business

File your business with the Secretary of State (SOS) online or using their registration form. If your business is not a Corporation, LLC, LLP or LP, you will need to file with the Business License Application (BLA) with Department of Business License Service (BLS) online or by completing their form. Then, get your Employer Identification Number (EIN) by contacting the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Sole proprietors with no employees are exempt from needing an EIN.

Step 2: Fill out the plumbing contractor application

Complete the WA L&I’s plumbing contractor license application to start. Designated plumbers must include an assignment/un-assignment form with their application. A business can only have one dedicated plumber.

Step 3: Purchase a $6,000 surety bond or assigned savings account

You can choose between purchasing a $6,000 surety bond or deposit $6,000 cash into an assigned savings account with the WA L&I. A benefit of purchasing a surety bond is not having to tie up a large amount of money in an account you can’t access. You only have to pay a small percentage of the bond amount in premium when you purchase a surety bond.

If you plan on getting your general construction contractor license, you will need an additional bond. You must purchase a General Contractor License Bond and Plumbing Contractor License Bond if you plan on having both licenses.

Step 4: Purchase liability insurance ($250,000 combined per occurrence amount)

List the WA L&I as the certificate holder on the insurance. Every year, before your policy expires, you must file a certificate of insurance. Failure to file will result in automatic suspension of your license and reinstatement fees will be assessed.

Contact us here to request a quote for liability insurance.

Step 5: Submit documents and pay the licensing fee

Submit your application, bond, certificate of insurance and any other required documents to the WA L&I at the address below. Include payment for the licensing fee of $139.10 with your submission. WA L&I accepts checks, money orders, cash and most major credit cards.

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

Plumber Licensing and Certification

PO Box 44470

Olympia WA 98504-4470

How does a surety bond work?

A surety bond functions differently than a traditional insurance policy. You’re not receiving coverage from the bond. Rather, the purpose of the bond is to provide coverage for your customers. If you fail to perform your duties as outlined in your license agreement with the state, a claim can be made against your bond.

The surety company will conduct an investigation for claims made against your bond. A valid claim results in a payout from the surety company, but cannot exceed the $6,000 bond amount. As the principal of the bond, you must repay the surety company for any valid claims made against your bond.

How much does a Plumbing Contractor Bond cost?

You will not pay the full $6,000 for your Plumbing Contractor Bond. In fact, depending on your credit score, your bond could cost as low as $100. When requesting a quote, a soft-pull on your credit is made. So, your quote doesn’t adversely affect your credit score.

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Conclusion: Washington State plumbers need to be licensed and bonded

If you want to work as a plumber in Washington State, you must secure a plumbing contractor license with the WA L&I. The penalties for operating without a license can result in fees ranging from $500 to $5,000.

Start the process by filling out a plumbing contractor application. Then, purchase a $6,000 surety bond or assigned savings account and a liability insurance policy with a combined amount of $250,000 per occurrence. Once you complete your forms and document, submit them along with the $139.10 licensing fee to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. After you receive your license, it will remain active for two years.

For any questions about licensing, contact the WA L&I by phone at 1-800-647-0982 or via email at

If you need assistance with your surety bond or liability insurance, send us an email to or call 866.722.9239.

Helpful Resources:

About Surety Solutions, A Gallagher Company

Surety Solutions makes the process of getting your surety bond quick and easy. We’re committed to uphold our culture of trust, honesty and great customer service.

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Beau Chipman

Beau is the Marketing Content Developer at Surety Solutions, A Gallagher Company. He creates content about all types of surety bonds, including mortgage, court, lost title, contractor, fidelity, ERISA and many more.

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