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How to Get A Contractors License in California

If you are a contractor and new to the state of California, you’ll find out very soon that contractors in California must be licensed by the state in order to operate. The state is very concerned with protecting consumers from unscrupulous contractors who don’t play by the rules when it comes to working on residential or commercial property, roads and highways, or any other structures within the state.

There are 7 specific steps that an unlicensed contractor must follow to become licensed in California:

  1. The contractor must meet the following pre-requirements:
    • Must be at least 18 years old
    • Must have a valid social security number
    • Must have at least 4 years experience in the class you are applying for
  2. Determine your License Classification: All contractors are segregated into license classifications such as Class A (General Engineering Contractor), Class B (General Building Contractor), and Class C (Specialty Contractor) which is comprised of 41 separate licenses.
  3. Apply for Your Original Exam and include the following supporting documents:
    • Application for Original Contractor’s License (Video Available)
    • Certificate of Work Experience (Form 13A-11)
    • Project List Form (13A-6A) if applicable
    • Attach the $300 processing fee and mail with the listed documents to:
      CSLB Headquarters
      Contractors State License Board
      PO Box 26000
      Sacramento, CA 95826-0026
  4. Wait for a letter of acknowledgment from the CSLB.Your acknowledgment letter will contain your application fee number and a PIN number which can be used to check the status of your application. If denied, you will be notified and advised of the corrections needed to be made and how to resubmit your application. If your application is approved, you’ll receive your fingerprinting packet and your Notice to Appear for Examination.
  5. Complete your fingerprinting requirements.Follow the instructions in your fingerprint scan packet and then take the examination which takes about 3 hours and is multiple choice.
  6. After you have passed the exam, you’ll be notified of several additional requirements:

    Get Your Free Workers Comp & Bond Quote Now!

  7. Send the above items to the CSLB as soon as possible.Your California Contractors License will be sent to you within about a week after your license is issued by the CSLB and will be valid for 2 years. CONGRATULATIONS!


But Wait… There’s More!


Now that you’re licensed and ready to go, don’t do anything until you’ve covered every risk that could rob you of your company with just one lawsuit. Fairbanks Insurance Brokers can insure those risks with the best highly-rated carriers and at the most affordable rates.


Here is What We Recommend

General Liability: Contractors General Liability will be the foundation of protection for your business. The coverage will respond if you or your employees are found liable for bodily injury, property damage, or have a products/completed operations complaint. The coverage also covers defense costs for your business to respond to any lawsuits brought by a third party.

Workers’ Comp: Many states will require contractors to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their workers before they can begin a project. Accidents will happen at the job site that can result in an employee becoming injured and missing work. Your workers’ compensation coverage will provide financial assistance for medical expenses and lost wages.

Surety Bonds: It’s very likely that your state will require you to be licensed before you can begin operations. Most states and customers will require contractors to offer a license or surety bond before you are allowed to bid on a job or begin working.

Commercial Auto: Typically, most contractors will have light and heavy vehicles that require commercial auto insurance to make certain their vehicles can be repaired or replaced in the event of an accident, vandalism, or theft.

Tool Coverage: Also known as Inland Marine Insurance, this policy will provide for reimbursement for expenses to repair or replace tools and equipment. Your tools represent an important part of your livelihood, so we always encourage carpentry contractors to consider this valuable coverage.

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