How to Get a General Contractor License in North Carolina

If you are running a construction business in North Carolina, there is a good chance you need to get a General Contractor License. 

Who needs a NC General Contractor License? Any contractor taking on projects worth $40,000 or more requires a license from the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors (NCLBGC). The cost of getting said license varies depending on the type of license you need and the value of projects you take on. 

Our guide below breaks down all the details. It covers which general contractor license you should get, how to get a NC contractor license bond, license requirements, the application process, contractor exams, and more.

How to Get a North Carolina General Contractor License

Step 1: Pick Your North Carolina License Classification 

The type of North Carolina contractor license that a business or individual needs depends on the type of work they plan to undertake. There are five possible classifications, and you may apply for more than one. 


What it Covers

Examples of What it Includes

Building Contractor 

All building construction and demolition activity, including commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential building construction. This is the broadest classification and most common for general contractors. 

  • Solar panels
  • Parking decks
  • Paving
  • Drainage
  • Retaining walls
  • All site work
  • Specialty “S” classifications including Concrete Construction, Roofing, Metal Erection, Swimming Pools, Wind Turbines, etc. 

Residential Contractor

Construction and demolition activity related to the construction of residential units that are required to conform to the Residential Building Code.

  • Driveways
  • Sidewalks
  • Residential water and wastewater
  • Supervising subcontractors
  • Residential unit work under “S” classifications:  Insulation, Interior Construction, Masonry Construction, Roofing, Swimming Pools, Asbestos, etc. 

Highway Contractor

All highway construction and demolition activity. 

  • Paving of all types
  • Bridges
  • Sidewalks
  • Highway hardware and signage 
  • Specialty “S” classifications such as Boring and Tunneling, Railroad Construction, Grading and Excavating, etc.  

Public Utilities Contractor

Demolition and operations that involve construction work on water and wastewater systems.

  • Specialty classifications “PU” for Boring and Tunneling, Communications, Fuel Distribution, Electrical-Ahead of Point of Delivery, Water Lines and Sewer Lines, Water Purification and Sewage Disposal, etc. 

Specialty Contractor 

All construction activity and contract work that falls under a specialty classification. You may hold multiple specialties. 

  • Asbestos
  • Communications
  • Concrete construction
  • Fuel Distribution
  • Metal Erection
  • Railroad Construction
  • Wind Turbines


For more information, see NCAC Title 21 Chapter 12A .0202


Step 2: Know Your North Carolina General Contractor Limitations

Your general contractor limitation determines the value of the projects that you can take on. There are three tiers to choose from:

  • Limited – Up to $750,000.00 on any single project 
  • Intermediate – Up to $1,500,000.00 on any single project 
  • Unlimited – No value restrictions 


Step 3: Meet Financial Requirements

All applicants must demonstrate financial responsibility through assets or a surety bond. The amount of said assets or surety bond directly relates to the limitation tier you are applying for. You only need a surety bond if you cannot fulfill the asset requirement. 



Asset Requirement

Surety Bond Amount Required

Limited License

Assets exceed total current liabilities by a minimum of $17,000; or total net worth is a minimum of $80,000


Intermediate License

Assets exceed total current liabilities by a minimum of $75,000


Unlimited License

Assets exceed total current liabilities by a minimum of $150,000



Important: If you require a surety bond, it doesn’t mean you’ll need one forever. You won't need to renew your bond once you have enough working capital or net worth. 


Step 4: Get a Surety Bond

If you do not meet the financial requirements outlined in Step 3, you will need to get a North Carolina Contractor License Bond. This bond is also commonly called a general contractor bond, contractor bond, or contractor license bond. 

This surety bond costs a small fraction of the full required bond amount (generally 1% - 5% for those with good credit), and it is easy to apply for. 

  1. Get a free quote for a contractor bond.
  2. Once you get your quote and approval, sign the indemnity agreement and pay for the bond.
  3. A copy of your bond will be emailed to you. The original bond will be sent by mail. 

Have bad credit? We offer contractor bonds to those with credit issues. Just this week, one of our agents worked with a contractor who got denied by other surety companies due to his low credit. Thanks to the large volume of bonds we underwrite, we were able to get him bonded through our bad credit surety bonds program.

Do I also need insurance to get a general contractor license in North Carolina? There is currently no general contractor insurance requirement for this license. However, business insurance is often needed to bid on projects and conduct daily operations. 


Step 5: Complete Your Licensure Application

Get a New License Application from the NC Licensing Board for General Contractors (NCLBGC). To successfully fill out the paperwork, you will need:

  • Social Security Number of examinees and qualifiers.
  • Tax identification numbers (corporate applicants).
  • Name of business under which the licensee will be operating (if any).
  • Information and court records for all crimes for which the applicant has been convicted.
  • Information establishing financial responsibility, such as financial statements and a surety bond.
  • Three letters of reference. 


Step 6: Submit Your Application & Fees

Current application fees are as follows:

Limited license: $75

Intermediate license: $100

Unlimited license: $125

Completed applications and cheques should be mailed to:

North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors 
5400 Creedmoor Rd 
Raleigh, NC 27612


Step 7: Take Your License Exam

Successful applications will be mailed an exam eligibility letter within 2 - 3 weeks.  

License exams are currently administered by PSI Exams. While the license applicant can take the exam, it can also be completed by another individual meeting the requirements to be a qualifier on the license. 

Exam Exemptions and Reciprocation:

  • Individuals may transfer previous exams, such as the North Carolina NASCLA Exam (National Association of State Contracting Licensing Agencies Exam). 
  • Individuals that passed the NASCLA National Accredited Building Exam or the proper exams in Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, or Tennessee may qualify for an exam waiver.

Have questions? Visit the Board website at for more information on licensing. For questions about contractor surety bonds, contact one of our surety experts online or at (888) 592-6631.

What is the Difference Between a Licensee and Qualifier?

A licensee and qualifier may be the same person, but they don’t have to be. 

  • Licensee: the person, firm, corporation, LLC, or partnership who holds the NC contractor license
  • Qualifier: an individual who has successfully passed the exam issued by the NC Board of General Contractors. All licensees must be connected to a qualifier (ex. working at the same company as them). If that qualifier leaves, a new one must be brought in. 

You will see both these terms in your license application, so it is important to understand what each is. 

Eligibility Requirements for Getting a General Contractor License in North Carolina

All general contracting license applicants must meet the following criteria. 

  • Age – be at least 18 years of age.
  • Character – possess good moral character as determined by the Board.
  • Finances – provide evidence of financial responsibility as determined by the Board. 
  • Secretary of State Registration – companies applying for a license must be registered. 
  • Background Check – consent to a criminal background check, if required.
  • Financial Statement – an audited financial statement for those who have been in bankruptcy within five years prior to the application filing.
  • Qualifier - Have a qualifier working for their company OR be willing to take the exam themselves/have someone take the exam to become a qualifier on their behalf. 

How Long Does It Take to Become a General Contractor in North Carolina?

It takes approximately 1 to 2 months to become a licensed general contractor in North Carolina state. 

This timeline includes: 2 - 3 weeks for a general contracting license to process and 2 - 4 weeks for exam scheduling and processing.

How Often Do I Need to Renew My North Carolina General Contractor License?

General contractor licenses need to be renewed yearly. 

All licenses expire on January 1st each year and go invalid 60 days after expiration. License renewal applications must be received by January 1st to avoid a late fee.

From Our Customers

Ready to Get Started?

Get a real-time quote today. You’ll be bonded in minutes, not days!