Determine the Type of Contractor License You Need
In the state of California, if a project’s value is over $500, including both labor and materials, you will need to obtain a contractor license. This covers contractors, subcontractors, and specialty contractors. Licenses may be issued to individuals, partnerships, corporations or LLCs.
Note: If you’ve held an active license in good standing for five (5) years from Arizona, Nevada, or Utah, you may be eligible for reciprocity from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Read more on the CSLB website to determine further requirements.
Access California Contractor License Application Forms
For new applicants of all business types, there are three ways to access the Application for Original Contractor License (13A-1):
Fulfill Requirements and Obtain Required Documents
- Applicants must be 18 years or older with a valid Social Security Number.
- A DOJ and FBI background check: This applies to all applicants, as well as their partners, owners, and managers. Live scan fingerprinting locations are available here.
- Working capital of a minimum of $2,500.
- Obtain Certification of Work Experience: This form is required to prove journey-level experience.
- Construction Project Experience: This form is used along with the Certification of Work Experience. One form is required for each completed construction project.
- An Additional Personnel form: This form must be completed when there are additional personnel to report on behalf of the applicant.
- A Disclosure Statement Regarding Criminal Plea/Conviction: The applicant shall list each plea or conviction, regardless of when the crime was committed, and/or whether it was dismissed or expunged. One form must be submitted for each plea/conviction reported and must be fully completed.
- Accommodation Request for Examination: For examination accommodation, proof of learning disabilities may require professional evidence from a medical professional or learning institution.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance or an Exemption from Workers’ Compensation Insurance form.
Submit Your California Contractor License Application
As of May 1, 2017, CSLB will only accept applications with a revision date of October 2016 or later. Any applications older than October 2016 will be returned, along with included fees.
Licensing and Application Fees
As of July 1, 2017, there is an license application fee of $330.
Live Scan fingerprinting requires a $32 DOJ processing fee, as well as a $17 FBI fee. Fees may fluctuate depending on location.
There are different ways to pay your application fees. For more information, please visit the CSLB Forms and Applications page.
Send your application and all required documents to the following address:
California State License Board 9821 Business Park Dr. Sacramento, CA 95827
Pass Your Examination
If you have been qualified and working under the same classification with a license in good standing for at least five years, or have passed the law and trade examinations for licensure, no examinations are required. All other applicants are required to pass their Examination with a minimum score of 67%.
To prepare, you can check out the preparation programs offered by the top California contractor’s license schools and take a look at the PDF examination study guides the Contractors State License Board provides.
After passing your licensure examination, all California applicants must take the Asbestos Open Book exam and mail a completed verification form with the rest of your application, including a renewal/bond verification and license fee notice, to the following address:
California State License Board P.O. Box 269074 Sacramento, CA 95826-9074
Obtain Your California Contractor Licensing Bond
Before the CSLB issues an active license, you must obtain a Contractor License Bond. An applicant’s contractor license bond amount, or cash deposit with CSLB instead of a contractor license bond, is $15,000, as of January 2016. A Bond of Qualifying Individual in the amount of $12,500 may be required in addition to the contractor bond in the situations outlined here.
How Long Does the Licensing Process Take?
Forms and documents are processed in the order they are received. You are able to check the status of your pending application via the CSLB website here.