How to Get a Florida Contractor License
What is a Florida Contractor License?
A Florida Contractor License is a legal requirement made by the State of Florida for contractors who wish to work within the state. The license acts as a guarantee that the license holder is sufficiently qualified and insured to work legally within the state, according to standards determined by the State of Florida, and needs to be renewed every two years.
Whilst the application and licensing process can be lengthy, this article will give you a clearer understanding of the process, and what you will need to prepare so that you can get your Florida Contractor’s License as easily as possible.
Florida Contractor License Types
There are many different types of Florida Contractor Licenses, which fall under two main categories. These two classifications of licensure are registration and certification. The former category, registration, allows contractors to work in specific areas such as cities and counties. The latter, certification, allows contractors to work anywhere in the state.
Within these two categories, contractors need to then apply for a license specific to their work. The different, specific types of Florida Contractor Licenses are:
- Sheet Metal
- Air Conditioning (Classes A, B, and C)
- Pool/Spa (Commercial, Residential, and Servicing)
- Underground Utility and Excavation
- Pollutant Storage System
There are also more specific, specialty licenses that are required by some local governments from some specialty contractors. These can be found on the websites of specific city and county governments.
How Do I Get a Florida Contractor License?
In order to get a Florida Contractor License, you must meet several criteria:
You must also be able to supply a social security number, (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification (ITIN)
Florida Contractor Licenses are only awarded to formally registered businesses. There are several different types of business entities, and the type of entity which an applicant wishes to found determines where they must apply. If the applicant wishes to found a Corporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or partnership, they should apply through the Florida Division of Corporations. However, if the applicant wishes to establish a small business, they should register with Florida’s Department of Revenue. This is a vital first stage in the application process.
Applicants to become registered contractors in Florida must first pass the Florida Contractor License exam, details of which can be found in the next paragraph, or they must obtain a Certificate of Competency from their local government licensing authority. This is usually obtained from the city or state.
Applicants applying to become a certified contractor must show proof of four years’ work experience from one or more of several sources. These include vocational schools, training programs, and work experience, demonstrating experience in the field corresponding to the license in question.
This should include a minimum of 1 year of supervisory experience. Up to three years of experience can be substituted for three years of college credit hours. Some licenses require further evidence of specific experience. These include the Florida General Contractor License and the Residential Contractor License.
Applicants also need to pass the Florida Contractor License Exam to demonstrate their competency, except for those applying for a Swimming Pool Speciality License. Applicants wishing to book their contractor exam should examine the Florida exam schedule.
There are cases in which an exemption from experience is available. It is possible to gain a license with less experience for applicants who receive a grandfathered license from a retiring contractor.
Veterans may also apply for a contract without prior experience and are eligible to have their fees waived. Veterans who are applying for a contract license, must download, complete and include the Florida Military Fee Waiver and Military Service verification form in their application. Both veterans and grandfathered contractors are still required to pass the licensing exam.
Applicants who wish to apply for a state of Florida Contractor’s license must be able to provide evidence of their financial responsibility and stability. In order to do so, applicants must submit a credit report of their personal finances and those of their business entity, including their FICO score. Those with a credit score below 660 are required to take out a surety bond. This bond acts as a financial guarantee between the contractor, the surety company, and the state, and is used to financially protect potential clients.
There are different types of insurance that applicants may need, depending on the type of contracting license for which they are applying, and the scale at which they wish to operate. These types of insurance include:
Worker’s Compensation Insurance
All construction businesses hiring employees have to get worker’s compensation insurance. You can find out more information from the state Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Liability and property damage insurance
All contractors need to take out liability insurance, though the amount will vary depending on the type of license they wish to take out. For a General and Building Contractor license, $300,000 liability insurance and $50,000 property damage insurance is required. For all other license types, $100,000 liability insurance and $25,000 property damage insurance is sufficient.
Applicants with a FICO score below 660 must obtain a surety bond. This is a security mechanism that guarantees legal compliance and safeguards the interests of customers.
The value of the Florida Contractor License bond that contractors have to post will depend on the type of license that they wish to obtain.
- Building, residential, and general contractor licenses require a bond worth $20,000
- All other license types require a bond worth $10,000
The price that contractors have to pay to get bonded is called a surety bond premium and is a small percentage of the bond amount. The exact cost is determined based on the applicant’s personal and business finances. A financial background check will be conducted; for applicants with stronger finances, bond prices are lower, and for those with weaker finances, bond prices are higher. These prices can fluctuate between 0.75% and 5% of the overall bond value but are generally between 0.75% and 5% for bond applicants with stable finances.
If you want to check the exact cost of your contractor license bond, you can fill in the short form below.
What are the Steps to Getting a Florida Contractor License?
First, applicants must gather all of the evidence detailed above. Once they have done so, then they must complete the relevant application form for their license type.
Having filled out an application, applicants should mail it together with the paperwork specified above to:
Division of Professions
Construction Industry Licensing Board
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0791
How Long Does It Take to Get a Florida Contractor License?
Once an applicant has gathered the required evidence and has submitted their application, the application needs to be reviewed by the Florida State Licensing Board. Applications are reviewed in the order that they arrive, so waiting times can vary. However, applicants can generally expect to have a response within 30-45 business days.
Florida Contractor Licenses need to be renewed every two years, so it is important that applications are submitted with enough time to be reviewed and renewed before old contracts expire.
Applicants for a certified license need to renew their licenses before August 31 of every even number year. Applicants for a registered license must do so before August 31 of every odd-number year.
There are different fees for renewing, depending on whether the license is current, delinquent, active, or inactive.
- Current active – $209 for individuals and $259 for qualifying businesses
- Current inactive – $59
- Delinquent active individual -$309
- Delinquent active business – $359
- Delinquent inactive licenses – $218.
How to Verify Your Florida Contractor License
Verification of a contractor’s license is an important way to assure clients that the contractor will complete their work up to standard and on time.
In order to verify a contractor’s license, the interested party will need the contractor’s trade license number, license type, the city or county in which they work, or the contractor’s name. This information can then be used to find and verify the contractor’s license online with the Department of Business and Professional Online Services.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Florida Contractor License?
The cost of a Florida Contractor License will vary depending on whether the application is for state certification or for registration, and when the application is submitted.
Licensing fees for certified contractors are:
- $249 – when applying between May 1 of an even year and August 31 of an odd year
- $149 – when applying between September 1 of an odd year and April 30 of an even year
For registered contractors, the application fees are the following:
- $309 – when applying between May 1 of an odd year and August 31 of an even year
- $209 – when applying for between September 1 of an even year and April 30 of an odd year
Have more questions about getting your Florida contractor license application? You can call us at 877.514.5146.
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