In Washington, there are 63 kinds of specialty contractor classifications available. Unlike in other states, where there are only about 40 contractor classifications, here contractors are required to be very specific about what they do. For example, if you repair not only closets, but also gutters and downspouts, you’d need a separate specialty classification for each.
The specificity of the Washington classification system means that if you are planning to operate as a contractor, you need to get accurate information about the licensing process in advance.
First things first: if you want to operate as either a general or a specialty construction contractor, you have to obtain a Washington contractor license. Note that the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, the licensing authority, refers to this process as registration, not licensing, but it is essentially the same procedure. The process is called licensing only in case you want to work as an electrician or plumber.
Contractor Licensing Requirements
Let’s get down to business. How, precisely, do you go about the licensing process in the State of Washington, you’re wondering? Well, the first step is to gather a list of the required documents.
As in other states, the best resource for the requirements is the authority in charge of licensing — in this case, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. You can consult their Construction Contractors guide for detailed information.
If you are licensing for the first time, you will need to define your business structure before anything else. What will you operate as?
- General partnership
- Limited Partnership (LP)
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
If you are going to operate as a Corporation, LP, LLP or LLC, you have to register with the Washington Secretary of State for a $180 fee. You can download all necessary forms here. It’s possible to get expedited service as well.
Step number two is obtaining your Uniform Business Identifier number (UBI#) by completing a Business License Application. Next, if you are going to have employees, you will need to get an IRS Employer Identification Number, as well. Then, fill out the Application for Construction Contractor Registration. The fee for a 2-year registration or a renewal is $113.40, so you should be prepared to pay it when submitting your application and documents.
To complete your licensing documentation, you also have to obtain:
- a general liability insurance coverage of $50,000 property damage policy
- a $200,000 public liability policy
- a surety bond
Unlike other states in which contractors need to pass an exam or present proof of professional experience or related education, in Washington you are spared from this step.
Washington Contractor’s License Bond
One of the licensing requirements is obtaining a surety bond. More precisely, you will need to get a Washington continuous contractor’s bond.
For general contractors, the bond amount is $12,000, while for specialty contractors registering in one trade only, the amount is $6,000. But don’t be fazed by the numbers – the price you have to pay for the surety bond is only a percentage of the bond amount.
If you are going to bid on public projects, you will also have to obtain contract bonds such as bid, performance and payment bonds, which will be tied to the specific project only. To protect yourself from employee dishonesty, you can also get fidelity bonds, which are a type of insurance for your business.
The purpose of the contractor’s bonds required in the licensing process is not to protect your business, but the public. The bond acts as a guarantee that your company will abide by state regulations and laws in its operations. This ensures that your clients’ interests are secure.
It’s possible to get a Washington contractor’s bond even with bad credit. You can apply here to get an exact bond quote.
Get Started Today
After you have read through the steps and consulted the Department of Labor and Industries guide, you’ll be fully armed with the necessary info to tackle the Washington contractor licensing process.
Ready to get rolling? Contact us to get an instant quote for your Washington contractor’s bond.