Construction Best Practices

Construction Licensing: What’s in Your Toolbelt?


Licensing can be a tricky issue to navigate for contractors.

In construction, the right tool always puts you ahead in the long run. The perfect tool saves you time, produces better results and is actually satisfying to work with.

For many contractors, licensing is a frustrating, inefficient process. But there are tools that can make licensing a painless, precision operation, and — dare we say it? — even a satisfying one.

We’d like to share a licensing tool every contractor should be equipped with. State Contractor Licensing: The Ultimate Guide provides a nationwide overview of the most critical aspects of state contractor licensing organized for quick and easy navigation. At a glance, you can assess the licensing process in a particular state and move forward with clarity and precision.

Looking at a project in a new state? The guide will tell you what, if any, general contractor licenses you need at the state level. Want to check a renewal date on a license? It’s just a click away. Want to get an overview of bond and insurance requirements nationwide? It’s all there for quick review. It’s a must-have tool for anyone charged with acquiring contractor licenses and managing the renewal cycle.

A Wealth of Licensing Information

Harbor Compliance's Ultimate Guide to State Licensing can be a powerful tool to help make sense of licensing processes in different states.

Here’s what the guide lays out for you:

State license requirements — General contractor licenses are issued by 31 states plus Washington D.C. Residential and commercial contractors are often licensed separately. You’ll find all general contractor license classifications spelled out for each state for quick navigation.

Secretary of state registration — The guide shows the 20 states where firms must register with the secretary of state, a process known as foreign qualification, to get a general contractor license. There are other reasons why your business may need to foreign qualify. To learn more, consult this companion guide to foreign qualification.

Financial requirements — Quickly determine which states require financial information such as reviewed or audited financials as part of license applications. Some set a specific threshold for net worth, working capital, cash deposits or credit score. Surety bonds are often required, sometimes as a percentage of contract value.

Insurance — Most states require a certificate of insurance with specific liability limits. Some states require that the state be listed as the certificate holder. Evidence of workers' compensation coverage is also generally required with license applications. All of these details are covered in the guide.

Renewal deadlines — You’ll also find renewal deadlines for contractor licenses nationwide. Licenses generally renew biennially or annually, with deadlines based on the contractor’s initial license date or on a set calendar date. The guide also shows which states require updated financial statements with renewals.

Fee breakdowns — License fees vary from $35 for a contractor business entity license in Idaho to $1,050 for a dual engineering contractor license in Arizona. Fees are sometimes prorated to reflect where the application falls in the renewal cycle. Detailed fee breakdowns are included in the guide.

Additional notes — You’ll also find notes to help you avoid licensing errors and false starts. Some states, for example, require separate applications for the firm and the qualifying agent, while others require firms to register for taxes before applying. Knowing those details up front can save contractors time and headaches.

Build with confidence!

There are a wealth of resources available to contractors to help them easily acquire proper licenses to begin working quickly in new locales.

State Contractor Licensing: The Ultimate Guide is the right tool for licensing so you can work with accuracy, direction and precision. Download a copy today to save, print or share with your licensing teams.

Specialty contractors should also leverage this Online Guide to Construction Licensing, which provides detailed information and links to application forms for the more than 1,500 contractor licenses provided by states. Navigate by state, specialty trade or license type. Key county and municipal jurisdictions are also covered in the guide.

In addition to these resources, Harbor Compliance provides advanced compliance software that lets you oversee licenses, renewals, corporate filings and registered agent appointments, all from a single interface. The software also populates your account automatically with accurate, up-to-date licensing information on all U.S. jurisdictions, making quick work of the most challenging licensing tasks.

Need a hand with licensing?

There’s nothing like working with an experienced specialist. Harbor Compliance provides fully-managed licensing services with expert licensing specialists who can complete your applications, file them for you and manage renewals. They can also help with annual reports and other entity management tasks. Choose the best combination of service and software to suit your needs.

Discover the security and peace of mind that comes from a properly constructed licensing compliance program maintained with state-of-the-art, purpose-built tools and experienced support. Get in touch or give us a call, 1-888-995-5895, to learn more or arrange a demo.

Harbor Compliance is not an accounting or law firm and does not provide tax, financial or legal advice.

Posted By

Christian Haring is an Account Executive at Harbor Compliance specializing in professional licensing for engineering, architecture, and construction firms. With a focus on mid-sized and large firms, Christian understands the need for precision and clarity in managing multi-jurisdictional licensing. Christian’s core focus is providing compliance as a growth enabler for his clients. He is available to answer your questions at 717-298-8128 or [email protected].