How to get your general contractor’s license in California step-by-step
1. Meet the basic requirements
Each applicant must meet the California General Contractor’s Licensing requirements, which are as follows:
- Be over the age of 18 years old
- Have a valid Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification (ITIN).
- Have at least four years of verified industry experience, like working as a journey person, foreperson, or supervising employee.
If you don't meet the requirements above, you may supplement it with the following California general contractor license experience requirements:
- Up to 1.5 years credit for receiving an Associate of Arts degree from an accredited institution.
- Up to two years credit for receiving a four-year degree in economics, business, math, physics or degrees related to trades or crafts related to construction.
- Up to three years credit for a Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship in a contacting-related field.
If you do not meet the above requirements, you may choose someone who does meet these requirements to represent you as your Qualifying Individual (QI).
2. Applying for your exam
- Complete the examination application by easy-fill online, or printing and filling out the PDF or order
- Mail the application (unless filled out online), along with the non-refundable $330 application fee and certificate of work experience, to the CSLB’s headquarters at:
Contractors State License Board
P.O. Box 26000
Sacramento, CA 95826
3. Take your exam
Around 3 weeks after submitting your application, you will receive a Notice to Appear for Examination. To prepare for the California Business and Law exam, check out the official California Business and Law Exam study guide. If you fail to pass or appear for the examination, you will need to pay a $60 rescheduling fee.
4. Complete a background check
You will also receive a FingerPrinting Live Scan packet, which enables you to submit your fingerprint for comparison by the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you have committed a crime this doesn't mean your application will automatically be denied. Each case will be reviewed individually, considering factors such as the date and severity of the crimes or evidence of rehabilitation.
5. Submit fees and bonding documents
Once you have passed your exams, you’ll receive a bond and fee notification from the testing site, and the following will be required:
- Payment of an initial licensing fee of $200
- A California business license and Tax ID for LLCs or Corporations. Register your business with the Secretary of State. Find out more info here.
- A contractor bond or cash deposit of $15,000
- Bond of Qualifying Individual (if needed) of $12,500
- Completed asbestos open-book examination
- Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance or Certification of Self-Insurance of Workers’ Compensation from the Department of Industrial Relations. Find out more info at the the Department of Industrial Relations Division of Workers’ Compensation page
- Exemption from workers’ compensation, if no employees
- Fingerprinting requirements
- LLC Employee/Worker Bond (if needed)
- LLC liability insurance (if needed)
A week after passing your exam, you will receive a wall certificate, which must be displayed in your main office, and a pocket card, which you must carry with you at all times.