If you are looking to get a general contractor’s license in Florida and are concerned about the basic requirements, you are at the right place.
This is because as per the February 1, 2001 general contractor's law (Statute 471.001-471.035), anyone who intends to work as a contractor within the state of Florida must be licensed.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the procedure of applying for a general contractor’s license in Florida. But first, let's briefly discuss the licensing procedure.
In order to get a general contractor's license, you will have to pass an examination which will be in a written and oral format. Once you pass both the examinations, your application form will then go to the Department of Business & Professional Regulation for review.
The process may take anywhere from 6-8 months (it can also be shorter than this or longer). If you'd like to find out current processing times, you can call or email the board.
- Eligibility Requirements For Florida General Contractor’s License
- Additional Requirements
- Step-By-Step Application Process for General Contractor's License in Florida
- Penalties for Unlicensed Work in Florida
Eligibility Requirements For Florida General Contractor’s License
Before you proceed with the application process, it is important to know whether you are qualified to get a license or not. According to the general contractor's law (471.001-471.035) of Florida Statutes, here are the brief qualification requirements for obtaining a general contractor’s license:
- You are 18+ years old
- You hold citizenship of the U.S or legal alien status (or have applied for a permanent resident visa from USCIS). NOTE: If you are not a citizen of the U.S, then you must be authorized to work in the U.S.
- You have passed the required examination (this is an online test)
- You hold a bachelor's degree in building construction and/or related field from an accredited college or university
NOTE: Non-consecutive courses may be considered if documented by transcripts.
- You have two years of verifiable construction experience in supervisory or management positions.
NOTE: Non-consecutive years may be considered if documented by W-2 statements or Federal and State tax returns. The following roles can be considered as supervisor/manager positions for granting a license - superintendent, project manager, estimator, superintendent/project manager, site supervisor, heavy equipment operator, or any other position whose job description requires experience in construction.
The best ways to satisfy the requirements for supervisory or management experience are demonstrated by title and salary. For instance, if you have held a title of an “estimator” (a position that often supervises the work of other employees), you can satisfy the requirement for supervisory or management experience by documenting two years of verifiable construction experience, regardless of whether or not your companies paid you as an estimator.
Similarly, if you have held a title such as “superintendent”, “project manager”, "site supervisor", etc., you can satisfy the requirement for supervisory or management experience by documenting one year of verifiable construction experience, regardless of whether or not your company paid you as a “superintendent”, “project manager”, “site supervisor", etc.
1. Obtain Florida Nonresident Residential Contractor's License
If you are a nonresident contractor, then you should get this license. There is a one-time fee of $250 to be paid for in cash or by certified check. Nonresidents may make applications in any county where they have an ongoing contract.
NOTE: The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation does not issue Nonresident Residential Contractors’ Licenses to contractors with a business address in Puerto Rico. The zip codes 33064, 34982-4895, and 90002-90799 are designated as nonresidency areas for Florida contractor's licenses.
2. Get Contractor's Bond
A licensed contractor is required by Florida law to provide a performance and payment bond. You should contact any surety company of your choice to obtain the required bond. Make sure that you get a certificate of insurance or an approved application from the surety company before starting work, not afterward. The certificate or application shall provide the following information:
a) Name of the surety company
b) Date of the policy
c) Surety amount
d) Name of licensee
3. Get Liability Insurance
All contractors in Florida are required to have at least a $1 million general liability insurance policy from any company with a valid Certificate of Authority issued by the Office of Insurance Regulation. The certificate should provide the following information:
a) Name of the insurance company
b) Policy number
c) Amount and limits of liability
4. Get Worker’s Compensation Insurance
It is required to have worker’s compensation insurance for your employees. You need to file a Florida Form DR-15 (Section A – Employer's Report of Injury) to the Department of Economic Opportunity within three days of any contractor injury requiring worker’s compensation. This is in addition to your workers' compensation insurance policy.
5. Get Public Liability Insurance
You should have $300,000 worth of public liability coverage. You are required by Florida law to notify the state attorney and fire marshal of any claim being made against your public liability insurance policy.
6. Get Proof of Liability Insurance for Your Own Vehicles/Equipment
You need to be insured to the limits of the law for both bodily and property damages (including contractual liabilities). The proof should show that you have a Florida-registered motor vehicle or equipment that is fully covered by a valid auto liability insurance policy issued by an authorized insurer. The certificate should include the following information:
a) Name of issuer
b) Policy number
c) Limit of liability
d) Effective and expiration dates of the policy
Step-By-Step Application Process for General Contractor's License in Florida
Step-1: Fill out the license application form.
Step-2: Submit the application form along with supporting documents to the DMV. Contractors may submit copies of required documents. One original form is needed for each submitted application.
Mail your application and required documents to the following address:
Department Of Business And Professional Regulation
2587 Executive Center Circle, MS 170-B
Tallahassee, FL 32301-3182
(850) 487-1395 or (850) 922-9602
For those who already hold an active license, they can submit a renewal application with a check for $90.
Step-3: Prepare for and take the exam. This is an online test that you can take from anywhere in the world. You will receive your contractor's license after passing this test. Visit the DBPR website to learn more about applying for a general contractor license and taking the examination, and to know when you are eligible to take it.
NOTE: Some contractors may be required to have special licenses for their work such as electrical, plumbing, or irrigation. Before you apply for a general contractor’s license, identify which specialty license(s) you might need and prepare the application materials. See the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s website for additional information.
Penalties for Unlicensed Work in Florida
The penalty for becoming a general contractor without proper licensing is up to $5,000 in fines and up to one year in jail (felony). Contractors with an active felony warrant are not allowed to register for the exam. The penalty for providing services as a contractor without being licensed is up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail (misdemeanor). In addition to this, homeowners wanting to have a general contractor on the sales contract can be fined $1,000 for hiring an unlicensed contractor.
Therefore, obtaining a general contractor’s license for working in Florida is worth the hassle.