The Full Ohio Contractor License Guide (2023)

Published: Jan 11, 2022
ohio contractor license


Do you want to set up a construction contractor company in Ohio? In order to launch this exciting business endeavor, you need to obtain an Ohio contractor license. 

General contractors don’t have to get a state license, but instead need to be licensed with local authorities. This is the case in many Ohio cities, including Columbus and Cleveland. 

Some specialty contractors, though, need a state license. This applies to electrical, HVAC, hydronics, plumbing and refrigeration contractors. Thus, if you need to get an Ohio electrical license or HVAC license, you have to undergo the procedure with the Construction Industry Licensing Board

In the sections below, you can learn the basics about the licensing process for Ohio contractors, as well as details about the general contractor license requirement in the cities of Columbus and Cleveland. 

The Ohio Contractor License Requirements

All contractors in Ohio have to undergo business licensing procedure. This is necessary in order to establish your business entity in the state.  

Business Entity Registration 

Your first step is to register your business with the Ohio Secretary of State. The entity forms that you can choose from include corporation, partnership, limited partnership, LLP, and LLC. 

Trade Name 

You have to file a trade name registration with the Secretary of State if you’re planning to use a different name for doing business than your company name. 

Tax Requirements

You have to register with the Ohio Department of Taxation to meet the state’s tax criteria.

Complete the Ohio contractor license application

ohio contractor licenseIn case you need an Ohio general contractor license, you have to apply with your city’s authority. 

City of Columbus

The licensing body is the Department of Building and Zoning Services. You can choose between two types of City of Columbus contractor licenses:

  • General contractor
  • Home improvement contractor 

If you’re applying for a general contractor license in Columbus, Ohio, you have to fill in the respective application form. You also need need to fulfill the licensing requirements. 

For home improvement contractors, there is another application form and meet the licensing criteria set for this type of license. 

Submit your application and supporting documents via mail to:

City of Columbus
Department of Building and Zoning Services
757 Carolyn Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43224

City of Cleveland

The Department of Building and Housing manages the activities of contractors. You have to fill in the application form, where you can find further information about the requirements for a general contractor license in Cleveland, Ohio. 

License and Registration Fees

When submitting your documents, you also have to cover license and registration fees. They are the following:

  • Columbus home improvement contractors – $185
  • Columbus general contractors – $350
  • Cleveland contractors – $150 

Provide a Surety Bond and Insurance

In most cases, obtaining an Ohio contractor license entails providing proof of insurance and bonding. 

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

You have to get worker’s compensation insurance in case you will be hiring employees. Consult the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for further information. 

Liability and Property Damage Insurance

Applicants for contractor licenses may also have to obtain liability and property damage insurance. Here are the requirements in some cities:

  • City of Columbus – minimum of $300,000 for damages to a single person and $500,000 for a single occurrence (liability insurance) 
  • City of Cleveland – minimum $200,000 coverage; $50,000 to $100,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for property damage

Surety Bond 

You may have to obtain a surety bond in order to get some types of Ohio contractor licenses. The bond works as a safety mechanism that safeguards the interests of your customers. 

Depending on your location and the type of license that you’re applying for, you will have to post different Ohio contractor license bond amounts. They usually range between $5,000 and $25,000

Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • City of Columbus general contractors and home improvement contractors – $25,000 (use the official bond form)
  • City of Cleveland general contractors – $25,000

You don’t have to pay the whole required amount to get bonded. Instead, you need to cover a fraction of it, which is called a premium. It depends on the strength of your personal and business finances. The typical rates for applicants with solid profiles are between 0.75% and 5%

Fill out the short application form below to see your exact contractor license bond cost!

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How to verify your Ohio contractor license

You can lookup your license via the search option of the Department of Commerce. You can select the license type and input information about your company. 

License Renewal and Expiration

You have to renew your license before it expires in order to legally continue your activities as a contractor. The expiration dates vary depending on your local authorities that have issued the license. 


Do you need further information about obtaining your Ohio contractor license and bonding? You can reach us by calling 877.514.5146.

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Jessica Hedrick

Jessica Hedrick is a Senior Account Manager with Lance Surety. She has over a decade of experience in the insurance industry, and has been a licensed property & casualty agent since 2010. While Jessica has vast experience working on all types of surety bonds, she has developed an expertise in managing construction and court-related accounts.

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