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Contractors' License Requirements

In California all businesses or individuals who contract for building projects must be licensed by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) if the total cost of labor and material on the project is $500 or more. "Building Projects " include constructing a new or altering an existing residential or commercial building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation, or other structure.

CSLB issues licenses for the following classifications:

  1. General Engineering
  2. General Building
  3. Specialty

There are 39 separate Specialty classifications for contractors whose work requires special skill and whose principal contracting business involves the use of specialized building trades or crafts. For example: Plumbing (C-36), Electrical (C-10), Painting and Decorating (C-33), Flooring and Floor Covering (C-15). CSLB also issues two certificates Asbestos Abatement and Hazardous Substances Removal.

Procedures for Obtaining a Contractor's License

Obtaining a contractor's license usually involves the following steps:


  • Fill out and send the CSLB an Application for Original Contractor's License. The application processing fee is $300.
  • If the application is accepted, you will be scheduled for the exams.
    There are two required exams: Law/Business and Trade.
    Both exams are scheduled on the same day and take approximately 2.5 - 3 hours each.
    The tests are administered on the computer and the questions are "multiple choice" format.
  • Passing both exams satisfies the CSLB requirements for obtaining Contractor's License.
    At this point you must file a contractor's license bond with other forms given to you at the exam site and send them to CSLB along with a $180 check - the license fee for the first two years.

You can obtain more information at the CSLB website: www.cslb.ca.gov

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