NOTICE! A Tennessee contractor's license is required BEFORE bidding or offering a price, for projects $25,000 and up (includes materials and labor), as a prime (general) contractor; and many subcontractors. Reciprocal agreements do NOT allow using another state's license in Tennessee.
A Contractor's license is assigned a monetary limit and also a classification, such as: Building (Residential, Commercial and Industrial); Electrical; Mechanical (Plumbing and HVAC); Heavy Construction; Highway, Railroad & Airport; Masonry; Municipal Utility; Environmental; and Specialties (landscaping, excavation, roofing, cell towers, solar panels, audio visual, etc.,). Contractor's must bid/contract in the exact name as licensed. See more information below in the "Summary of Contractor License Requirements".
NEW! Roofing Law Changes and Amendments
Roofing Subcontractors (HB0480) must now be licensed as a contractor.
Roofing Contractors being paid by insurance companies, must now include specific consumer protection language in their contract, as follows: 1) Right to cancel within 3 days; 2) Contact information - Address, Telephone Number, License #, Email Address; 3) Detailed Description of Repairs; and 4) Must refund monies paid prior to cancellation within 10 days. See Public Chapter 821 for more information in the law. See also the 2013 amendment of HB0480.
NEW! Exceeding Monetary Limit - Clairification of law violation is part of HB0328.
See important changes with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) for PRIME contractors (except mowing and liter removal contractors) at TDOT Contractors. Highway contractors are not required to take a trade exam for a HRA (Highway, Railroad and Airport) contruction classification; only the Business and Law exam is required. See the licensing steps below for further instructions and also the "Hardship" process to have a license issued on an emergency basis to expedite the issuance.
BIDDING: See bidding information at "Other Valuable Resources"
EMERGENCY (HARDSHIP) LICENSE PROCESS: All application requirements must be fulfilled. A Tennessee license may be issued on an emergency basis by following the “Hardship” license guidelines. A contractor cannot use another state's license to perform work.
FYI - Unlicensed contractors do not have lien rights and limited to recovery of documented expenses in court. Contractors who take money and do not complete the project may be arrested and convicted for felony theft. See "Consumer Resources" for more information.
CONTRACTOR'S LICENSE APPLICATION PACKAGE
Exam Information - PSI Candidate Information Bulletin (Registration, Locations, Study Materials, Rules for Testing, etc.)
Bookstores (Code Books and Reference Manuals, etc., for Exams)
Hardship - Emergency Board Review for License Issuance
Click on the following links to review the step-by-step process or you may simply print the application form above:
Contractor License Requirements - Summary
A contractor's license must be obtained first before operating! A license is required whenever the total project or contract amount is $25,000 or more (includes materials, labor, profit, etc.) by the “Prime” (general) contractor, the one bidding directly to the owner of the project, and this is required prior to bidding, offering a price, negotiating, performing work or contracting.
In addition, “Subcontractors” (those bidding directly to the licensed prime (general) are NOT required to be licensed as contractors, UNLESS, they are Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, and HVAC subcontractors performing work $25,000 or more; Masonry - when this portion is $100,000 or more (including materials and labor). Construction Manager's are required to have a contractor's license for projects $25,000 or more.
A contractor's license is obtained as a Sole Proprietor, Corporation, Partnership or LLC, and issued in the exact name of the entity listed on the financial statement (*assumed names are not listed on the license unless provided on the financial statement). Trade Exam(s) are required for many classifications; the Tennessee Business and Law exam is required by ALL new license applicants. All contractor licenses are issued with a classification and monetary limt. Note: A contractor's license is required regardless, even if a local permit is not required for inspections.
*Must bid and operate in the exact name listed on the license.
A “Contractor's” license is needed for the following and prior to contracting, bidding, offering or negotiating a price, for projects $25,000 or more (*Masonry subcontractors is $100,000):
• Prime (general) Contractors - Bidding or contracting directly with the owner;
• Subcontractors - Bidding directly to a licensed prime (general) contractor to peform the following:
• Construction Management of any kind, where the value of the project is $25,000 or more.
The definition of contractor is found in the statute at T.C.A. 62-6-102.
NOTE: Always contact the local county/city permit offices for their license requirements. Contact information for all municipalities is available at: Local Government City and County Information
Classification - Types of Contractors
The license process entails all contractor applications to pass the Tennessee "Business and Law" exam; and also a trade exam may be required for some classifications (see "Contractor Classifications Outline") A complete list of the exams, registration information and study materials are available by reviewing the “Candidate Information Bulletin” of the exam vendor, PSI).
Every contractor's license is assigned a monetary limit for the size contracts they are approved to work. Projects cannot be split into phases to circumvent the monetary limit law. A tolerance of 10% is allowed pursuant Rule 0680-1-.13.
Owner/Name on the License
The license is obtained in the name of the entity providing the financial statement as the owner. Therefore, it may be a sole proprietor, corporation, partnership, or LLC. Iin many cases, the license does not necessarily belong to the qualifying agent (person taking the exam) unless they are also the owner providing the financial statement, insurance, etc. The contractor must bid and contract in the exact name as well as in the mode of operation as licensed. For example, if the license is issued to "John A. Doe" licensed as a sole proprietorship, they cannot contract as "Doe's Contracting, Inc." which is registered as a corporation. Contractors registering with an assumed name with the Tennessee Secretary of State, will not have the assumed name on the license, unless, it is provided on the financial statement.
Types of prime contractors needing a contractor's license include the following: Building (Residential, Commercial, Industrial); Construction Managers; Electrical (including Low Voltage, Computer Cabling, Audio Visual; Alarm (see also "Alarm Systems Board"); Mechanical - Plumbing, HVAC (including geothermal well drillers); Fire Sprinklers; Highway, Railroad & Airport (also see TDOT); Municipal Utility; Environmental; Specialties (Equipment Installation; Cell Towers; Playground Equipment Installation; Solar Panel Installations; etc.); and over 33 subcategories: Landscaping; Excavation; Painting; Demolition; etc. (*See compiled list of license classifications.) For those acting as "Design/Build contractors, make sure you comply with the license laws of the Architects and Engineers. New rules for classifications are published under Rule 0680-01-.16.
Types of subcontractors needing a contractor's license, include the following: Electrical, Plumbing, Mechanical and HVAC, for projects $25,000 or more; and Masonry for projects $100,000 or more. Geothermal well drillers must be licensed with the Department of Environment and Conservation and their license is required to be listed on the outside of the bid envelope, pursuant T.C.A. 62-6-119.
Contracting - Definitions
The definition of contracting is under T.C.A. 62-6-102(2), and states in part:
Deadline Date to Submit Application
Board approval for issuance takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks (see "Hardship" information for emergency approval). Refer to the Board's Public Meetings Calendar for meeting dates. The application fee is $250.00; and the deadline date to submit an application for the next scheduled meeting is the 20th of the month (prior to the board meeting). If the 20th is not a week day or is a holiday, it would be the next business day. For example, if the Board meets November 27, 2012; the deadline would be Monday, October 22, 2012 (since the 20th is on a Saturday).
Hardship (Emergency) License
The Hardship criteria allows a license to be approved prior to the Board meeting. However, the hardship must apply to the "owner" of the project; not to the contractor applying for the license. It may also be issued whenever it is in the best interest of the public's safety and welfare. Always allow 5 to 7 business days for mail delivery. Overnight and express mail takes two (2) business days to reach our office (delivered to the Cashier's Office first). We recommend to email a copy of the application and mail the original with fee to expedite hardship requests needing immediate attention. All instructions are outlined in the Hardship application request form.
Exemptions from the License Requirement
Exemptions of the contractor's license requirement is outlined in the laws, rules and regulations, and applies to individual use, non-profit organizations, Department of Transportation's special let highway projects and federal projects. For example:
To review all exemptions, see T.C.A. § 62-6-102, 103 and Rule 0680-1-.22.
HOW TO BECOME A LICENSED CONTRACTOR
(More detailed steps are in the "Contractor License Application" and may be downloaded from our website or with all forms located at the Forms & Downloads or follow the "Step by Step" directions above.
In order to become a licensed contractor, you must complete the Board's application process, which entails the following steps:
EXAM PREP SCHOOLS
A school providing exam prep courses must be licensed with our Board as a Pre-Licensing Contractor Exam Provider before offering prep courses online or workshops.
LIMITED/ RESTRICTED RESIDENTIAL ("BC-A/r" Contractor License Classification)
Contractors may apply for a Limited License with a BC-A/r classification, which restricts residential contractors to building in the amount of $70,000 or less. In lieu of the exams, they may attend a course at a community college. All other application requirements must be fulfilled, including a personal board interview.
More information is also available at "BC-A/r" on the Forms and Applications section of the web.
Secretary of State (Registration of Corporations, LLC, Limited Partnerships)
One-Stop Business Resource (TN.gov)
Insurance Information [pdf]
Once a contractor has been granted a license, it is issued for two (2) years and they are required to renew 30 days prior to the expiration date. In additon, they may need changes or license revisions. There are law requirements they must follow when operating in Tennessee.
Note: Do not contract until the license "Revision" has been approved.
*See "Electrical" Licensing Resources (includes license information for projects less than $25,000)
**See "Plumbing" Licensing Resources (includes license information for projects less than $25,000)
PERMITS, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND OTHER LICENSING AGENCIES
State contractor license requirements do not exempt local government regulations or other state agency requirements; always check with the local municipalities for their permit and inspection requirements. Some areas may not have a permit or local license agency for inspections, however, the state licensing law requirements still apply. The Divison of Fire Protection performs residential building, electrical and plumbing inspections for many areas without local codes enforcement. In addition, you may need licenses and/or certifications from other Tennessee agencies or Regulatory Boards. Please also see our "Valuable Resources" section on the web for more guidance. Business tax licenses are required by each county/city and may be obtained by the State's (Tennessee Department of Revenue) office.
SECOND/ADDITIONAL CONTRACTOR'S LICENSE
Contractor's who currently hold a Tennessee contractor's license and need another license, due to having one of the following: Having an additional business/subsidiary; change in ownership; merger; or reorganization, they would need to complete the new license application and follow all steps (the exams would not need to be retaken IF the Qualifying Agent (QA) is a majority owner of the new entity or remains a full time employee with only one licensed entity).
The law requires a contractor's license application to be completed for the following pursuant TCA 62-6-111:
(1) Contractor applying for new license;
(2) When obtaining a second or additional license (when having more than one business entity);
(3) *Reinstatement of an expired license (over 12 months, cannot renew);
(4) *Change in ownership (partnership dissolved, new in-coming stockholders, etc.); and
(5) *Reorganization of the licensed entity
If there has been no change in ownership and requesting only a name change or mode of operation change, see the "Revision" section of the "Forms and Downloads" for instructions on obtaining an amended license.
REINSTATEMENT OF EXPIRED LICENSE
Contractor's failing to complete the license renewal within 12 months of the expiration date, would need to complete the new license application. All steps must be followed with the exception of the exams; not required to be retaken if remained active in the industry for the past two (2) years.
Summary of Reinstatement Instructions
To reinstate a contractor’s license expired more than 12 months, a contractor must: complete the “Contractor’s License Application”; select “Reinstatement” on page one (1); and list the license ID# of the expired license. When reinstating a contractor’s license, you may apply for this new reinstated license with a name change, change in mode of operation, license limit or classification. All the steps to reinstating a contractor’s license are the same as obtaining a new license, with the exception of the exams. The license does not have to be reinstated the very same as prior and may be in another name; mode of operation; monetary limit or classifications. However, the license ID number will remain the same as the expired license. Do not use the license until approved. May check status of pending application from the “License Search” at our website: /regboards/contractors/
Exam Information for Reinstatements
A. Exam(s) Required
The *exams would be required to reinstate a license:
*May request waiver if the original QA has remained active in the industry (such as working for another contractor; working in another state; performing work where a license is not required), then you may supply a written request to waive the trade exam(s). Note: It is up to the Board to determine whether the exam would need to be retaken on waiver requests and they would make this decision upon reviewing the complete application at the Board meeting; staff cannot make this determination.
B. Exam Not Required (Waived)
The exams would not be required or may request to be waived if:
GENERAL INFORMATION - SUMMARY
CONTRACTOR'S RENEWAL, RETIREMENT AND REVISIONS
Licenses are issued for two (2) years and renewals are mailed out 90 days prior to expiration date; renewal is due 30 days prior to expiration to the expiration date to prevent contracting unlicensed which is a violation (contractors working on an expired license may not be entitled to recover monies owed on a project). If you do not receive a renewal in the mail, you may download from our website. Online renewal process is not available at this time. Contractors are required to submit proof of insurance (general liability and workers' compensation), an affidavit, and a financial statement to support their current monetary limit. The financial statement may be prepared by the contractor, and does not have to be prepared by a CPA as long as their limit is $1,500,000 or less. For those with a limit in excess of $1,500,000, a "Reviewed" CPA financial statement is acceptable for renewal instead of an "Audit". To check the status of your license, you may login at the "License Search".
Contractors who are not currently working, may place the license in "Retirement" in lieu of renewing, to retain renewal rights (renewal rights expire after 12 months). Retirement may be on an annual basis; biennial basis; retired with a maxium of seven (7) consecutive years; or as long as the license has an active status, it may be retired anytime by providing the $25.00 retirement fee for each year.
Contractors may take the license out of retirement any time by completing the renewal.
Revisions to change the name on the license, mode of operation, increase the monetary limit or add a classification may be requested by completing revision forms from the "Forms and Download " of the website, which includes all instructions.
The following are other licenses issued by our office and most do not require Board approval. Issuance takes usually less than a few weeks.
Home Improvement- This license is required in the following counties: Bradley, Davidson, Hamilton, Haywood, Knox, Marion, Robertson, Rutherford and Shelby, for remodeling projects from $3,000 to less than $25,000. For more information, contact the Home Improvement section at (615) 532-3994 or 1-800-544-7693, or review information on Remodeling. (Note: An entity with a "Contractor's" license with a residential classification (BC-A) or commercial (BC or BC-B) is exempt from obtaining an additional license as a Home Improvement contractor.)
Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE) license is required in counties who do not perform their own inspections and licensing for electrical wiring projects less than $25,000. Contact our LLE licensing section at 1-800-544-7693 or (615) 253-2144, or download application. (Note: An entity with a "Contractor's" license, with an electrical classification (CE or E) is exempt from obtaining an additional license as a LLE.)
Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP) license is required for projects less than $25,000 (as of January 1, 2006). Must also obtain local permits and adhere to their licensing requirements, such as exams and fees. Contact our LLP licensing section at 1-800-544-7693 or (615) 532-3994. (Note: An entity with a "Contractor's" license, with a plumbing classification (CMC or CMC-A) is exempt from obtaining an additional license as a LLP.)
HVAC - Check with your local codes office. There is not a specific license for HVAC projects, less than $25,000, with our Board. Projects $25,000 or more must obtain a contractor's license with the CMC or CMC-C classification, as a prime or subcontractor. If operating in a county requiring a Home Improvement license, check to see if a trade specific license is also required or HVAC less than $25,000.
Schools as a Pre-Licensing Contractor Exam Provider must be licensed as an approved provider by the Contractors Board, before offering prep courses online or workshops.
Applicants are not required to take an exam prep class. The contractor exams are only offered by PSI.
For information relative to the construction industry, please see the "Other Valuable Resources" on our website.
Applications - Forms & Download Application forms and instructions to obtain a new license; revise a current license (raise limit, add classes, change mode of operation, etc.,) or renew
>>NEW! Exam Updated Codes (Eff. March 15, 2012)
FEIN (Federal Employement Identification Number)
FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions [pdf]
Hardship Requests [pdf]
>>See also "Workers' Compensation" Resource
Reciprocation (Trade Exam Waiver Agreement with States) [pdf]
Revenue (Business Tax License)
Secretary of State (Corporation, LLC, Partnership Registration)
Valuable Resources (Industry Links, Laws, and General Information)
Workers' Compensation Insurance (See also "Insurance" Resource)
More information may be found at the "Other Valuable Resorces" relative to working and contracting in Tennessee.
Subcontractors - Electrical, plumbing, HVAC, mechanical, and *roofing subcontractors are required to obtain a "contractor's" license for projects $25,000 or more. Masonry contractors are required licensed and listed on the bid envelope as of July 1, 2010; must be licensed with a LMC classification to be listed on the bid envelope and perform work for projects $100,000 or more (including materials and labor) by January 1, 2011. Geothermal bids require the Well Driller (TDEC) license to be listed on the outside of the bid envelope.
*NEW! Roofing Subcontractors are required to be licensed (not required to be listed on the outside of the bid envelope) for projects $25,000 or more.
Contractor's - Main website
Notice: The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is committed to principles of equal access and affirmation action. Contact the EEO or ADA Coordinator at (615) 741-6500.