Do you want to start a construction business in Florida?
To become a contractor in the Sunshine State, you’ll have to get a Florida contractor license. The state manages contractor licensing for all specialties. You may also need a license on the local level in some cases.
Find out how to get your Florida contractor license in this easy guide.
#1. Decide on the Type of Contractor License
You can become either certified or registered as a Florida contractor. Your licensing authority is the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
If you want to work across the entire state, you’ll need to get state-certified. If you want to work only on the local level, then you’ll have to become registered. You’ll also need a certificate from your local authorities.
The types of contractor licenses on the state level include:
- Sheet Metal
- Air Conditioning (HVAC — Classes A, B, and C)
- Swimming Pool and Spa
- Underground Utility and Excavation
- Solar (only certification)
- Pollutant Storage System (only certification)
- Specialty Contractor (only certification)
- Precision Tank Tester (only registration)
- Tank Lining Applicator (only registration)
If you need licensing on the local level, you’ll have to find out the license types required from your city or county authorities too.
#2. Get to Know the Licensing Requirements
You can apply for a Florida contractor’s license as an individual or as a qualifying business.
If you need licensure as a business, you’ll first need to set up a business entity in the state of Florida. For a corporation, LLC, or partnership, you’ll have to register with the Florida Division of Corporations. Small businesses will need to register with the Department of Revenue.
The licensing requirements for both state certification and registration include:
- Proof that you’re 18 years of age or older
- Social Security Number or individual taxpayer identification (ITIN)
- Four years of relevant education, or two years of education and two years of experience at a relevant job (military experience counts too)
- Additional education requirements for general and residential contractors
- Personal credit report and company financial statements to prove financial stability
- Electronic fingerprinting
- Insurance coverage: General and building licenses—$300,000 liability insurance and $50,000 property damage insurance; Other license types—$100,000 liability and $25,000 property damage insurance
- Surety bond (if your FICO credit score is less than 660): General, building and residential licenses—$20,000; Other license types — $10,000
- Workers’ compensation insurance if you’re planning to hire employees (though you may be able to file for an exemption if you don't have many employees)
#3. Pass the State Exam
To become a certified contractor, you’ll have to pass the Florida contractor license exam. To become a registered contractor, you have two options. You can either pass the exam or show a Certificate of Competency from your local licensing authority.
The contractor exam covers topics like building expertise, finances, legal aspects, and safety. Check out the exam content for the different types of contractor licenses.
The exam fees include:
- $135 registration fee — payable to Professional Testing
- $80 exam site administration fee — payable to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation
#4. Apply for Your Contractor License
Once you’re ready with your documents and license application form, mail them to the licensing office:
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Construction Industry Licensing Board
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0791
You’ll have to pay these licensing fees:
- $149 if applying from September 1st of an odd year to April 30th of an even year
- $249 if applying from May 1st of an even year to August 31st of an odd year
- $209 if applying from September 1st of an even year to April 30th of an odd year
- $309 if applying from May 1st of an even year to August 31st of an odd year
Veterans can get a waiver for a fee exemption.
The licensing process usually takes about two to three months, depending on the available state exam dates. Licensed contractors can manage their licenses via the Department’s Licensing Portal.
#5. Keep Your License Active
You’ll have to renew your Florida contractor license every two years. You may be required to get continuing education.
The renewal deadlines are:
- If you’re a certified contractor — August 31st of each even-number year
- If you’re a registered contractor — August 31st of each odd-numbered year
Time Tracking and Payroll for Your Contracting Business
Running a construction business is a complex process. Besides being a qualified specialist, you’ll need to tackle day-to-day tasks as well.
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