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How To Obtain a Contractor’s License in Florida
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How To Obtain a Contractor’s License in Florida

December 1, 2021 Construction Industry Legal Blog

Reading Time: 5 minutes


A person is required to obtain a license to legally work as a contractor in Florida.  Chapter 489 of the Florida Statutes and the Construction Industry Licensing Board sets forth the requirements for a person to obtain a contractor’s license in Florida, including the necessary application, education, experience, age, financial security, insurance, fees, and examination requirements.  These requirements are rigorous and vary slightly depending on the type of contractor’s license.  However, if a person fails to obtain a contractor’s license in Florida, he or she may be engaging in unlicensed contracting, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.

How to Obtain a Contractor's License

What is a Contractor?

 A contractor is defined as a person who, for compensation, constructs, repairs, alters, remodels, adds to, demolishes, subtracts from, or improves, any building or structure, including related improvements to real estate.  See Fla. Stat § 489.105(3).  In addition, the contractor’s scope of work must be substantially similar to the scope of work of a specific type of contractor (listed below), as described in one of the paragraphs of Section 489.105(3) of the Florida Statutes.

Types of Contractor’s Licenses

Under Florida law, there are several different types of contractors, including the following:

  • General (Division I)
  • Building (Division I)
  • Residential (Division I)
  • Sheet Metal (Division II)
  • Roofing (Division II)
  • Class A Air Conditioning (Division II)
  • Class B Air Conditioning (Division II)
  • Mechanical (Division II)
  • Commercial Pool/Spa (Division II)
  • Residential Pool/Spa (Division II)
  • Plumbing (Division II)
  • Underground Utility and Excavation (Division II)
  • Solar (Division II)
  • Pollutant Storage Systems (Division II)
  • Specialty (Division II)

How To Obtain a Contractor’s License

To obtain a license, a contractor must decide to become either a Registered Contractor or a Certified Contractor, depending on where he or she wants to perform the work in Florida.  The licensing requirements vary slightly depending on whether the contractor decides to become a Certified Contractor or a Registered Contractor.

Certified Contractor Licensing Requirements

A Certified Contractor possesses a certificate of competency issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”).  A Certified Contractor is permitted to work anywhere in Florida, without being required to fulfill any competency requirements with a local government. Fla. Stat. § 489.105(8).

To obtain a Certified Contractor’s license, an applicant must”

  • Pass the Florida State Construction examination (except for Swimming Pool Specialty contractors);
  • Have four (4) years of experience, a combination of college and experience, or experience gained in the military;
  • Submit a credit report as proof of financial stability and responsibility;
  • Submit fingerprints and pass a background check;
  • Submit proof of public liability, property damage, and workers compensation insurance;
  • Pay the required fee;
  • Be at least eighteen (18) years old; and
  • Complete the required application (which is based on the type of contractor’s license)

Registered Contractor Licensing Requirements

On the other hand, a Registered Contractor possesses a certificate of competency from a local government, such as a county or municipality, and registered that certificate with the DBPR.  A Registered Contractor is only permitted to work in the cities or counties where he or she holds a certificate of competency.  Fla. Stat. § 489.105(10).

To obtain a Registered Contractor’s license, an applicant must:

  • Provide evidence of possessing a certificate of competency from a local licensing office;
  • Submit a credit report as proof of financial stability and responsibility;
  • Submit fingerprints and pass a background check;
  • Submit proof of public liability, property damage, and workers compensation insurance;
  • Pay the required fee;
  • Be at least eighteen (18) years old; and
  • Complete the required application

To obtain a local certificate of competency with a local government, the applicant must contact the local licensing office to confirm those requirements.  In Duval County, for example, an applicant must comply with the requirements of the Construction Trades Qualifying Board, which include:

  • Passing the local examination;
  • Submitting a summary of education, training, and experience in the construction trade;
  • Submitting proof of financial stability and responsibility;
  • Submitting a sworn statement that the applicant has not been convicted of a felony during the past five (5) years or charged with a felony at the time of the application, or provide a full statement of facts and circumstances of the conviction or charges;
  • Submitting proof of public liability, property damage, and workers compensation insurance;
  • Submitting a receipt from the Tax Collector evidencing payment of the application fee;
  • Submitting a name and address of a person authorized to accept service; and
  • Completing the required application

Section 342.105, Duval County Municipal Ordinances.

Consequences for Unlicensed Contracting

Although obtaining a contractor’s license in Florida is a time-consuming and rigorous process, a license is required to legally work as a contractor in the state.  See Fla. Stat. § 489.113(2) (A person “must be certified or registered in order to engage in the business of contracting” in Florida); see also Fla. Stat. § 489.115(1) (“No person may engage in the business of contracting in this state without first being certified or registered in the proper classification.”).  Any person who performs an activity requiring a contractor’s license, without holding a valid license, will be guilty of unlicensed contracting. See Fla. Stat. § 489.13(1). 

A person who engages in unlicensed contracting will be committing a first-degree misdemeanor (with penalties of up to one year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a $1,000 fine). See Fla. Stat. §§ 489.127(1)(g), 489.127(2)(a).  Further, any contract entered into by the contractor may be deemed unenforceable, meaning the contractor would have no right to get paid for their work. See Fla. Stat. § 489.128(1) (“As a matter of public policy, contracts entered into on or after October 1, 1990, by an unlicensed contractor shall be unenforceable in law or in equity by the unlicensed contractor.”).  Additionally, any customer who has been harmed by the unlicensed contractor’s work may be entitled to treble (3x) damages and be entitled to his or her attorney’s fees. See Fla. Stat. § 768.0425. 

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