Washington Contractor License

Washington Contractor License

Starting your new job as a handyman or establishing a contracting company can be overwhelming especially when there’s tons of confusing or misleading information online. But don’t worry; we are here to help you.

We have carefully researched and gathered every detail of contractor’s licensing, the laws and regulations applied specifically in the state, and more.

Our step-by-step guide will cover topics such as; the requirements and the process of licensure and registration, the necessity of obtaining a contractor’s license in the state, the expenses, and duration of licensing, or any other crucial info that will make the process of getting licensed in Washington State effortless.

How do I get a contractor’s license in Washington State?

In Washington State, all the procedures of licensing and/or registration are handled by the WA Department of Labor and Industries. The Washington State offers two separate contractor’s work:

  • General Contractor: Performs or supervises multiple trades or crafts at a time. The general contractor can work on construction, repair, and remodeling, demolishing, or similar projects.
  • Specialty Contractor: Specializes and performs only one building trade or craft. There 63 specialties recognized by Washington State that may require licensing in order to perform work. The full list of specialty skills can be found here.

Unlike specialty contractors who need to be licensed in Washington, general contractors don’t have to obtain a license although registration is a must. Similar to other states, the process of licensing for specialty trades in Washington is also different from the registration or licensing process of general contractors. The common specialty trades that require state-level licensing and meeting the exam and education standards are as follows:

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Elevators
  • Boilers
  • Asbestos
  • And more

If you have any questions about a state or local level licensing, or contractor registration in Washington State reach your local Labor & Industries office or call at 1-800-647-0982.

Main steps of licensing or registration in Washington State

There are several steps you need to undertake to be an authorized contractor in Washington. Here, we outlined those steps accordingly:

  1. Determine your business structure and register with the WA Secretary of State: If you decided your business structure to be a corporation you must file Articles of Incorporation while for LLC registration you should file a Certificate of Formation. Once you complete this process you will receive a Unified Business Number (UBI) allowing you to add a license, register your trade name, hire employees, etc.
  2. Acquire your Employer Identification Number (EIN): If you are planning to hire employees you must obtain this employer ID from IRS
  3. Purchase a bond: Washington law requires general contractors to purchase a continuous contractor surety bond of $12,000 coverage. Specialty contractors should purchase a bond of $6,000 coverage.
  4. Obtain general liability insurance: The certificate of insurance should indicate that you have a $50,000 property damage and $200,000 for a public liability insurance policy.
  5. Submit your contractor application form and pay the filing fee: You need to fill out the application form, get it notarized and signed. You can either apply it in person by visiting your local L & I office or mailing your application along with the necessary paperwork and the filing fee.

You can mail your application along with the supporting documents to:

Department of Labor and Industries
Contractor Registration Section
PO Box 44450
Olympia, WA 98504–4450

Do I need a general contractor’s license in Washington?

Unless you perform a single-specialty trade from the list that we mentioned earlier, you might not need a license to be a legal worker in Washington State. While state-level licensing is not mandatory, registration through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is a must. To further understand if you need a registration or licensing visit the Department of Licensing and Registration page or check with your local county as the regulations may vary from city to city in Washington.

The registration of a general or specialty contractor will be the same process with the submission of the same form. Prior to your registration application, you will need to:

  • Select your business entity: Remember that corporations need to register with the WA Secretary of State
  • Fill out the business license application form
  • Get federal EIN to hire employees: If your business is sole proprietorship you need to choose a name
  • Obtain liability insurance and bond
  • Complete the application form for general or specialty contractor
  • Pay your registration fee
  • Submit all the paperwork to your local L & I registration office

Who needs a contractor’s license in Washington State?

If you perform one of many specialty trades listed below, you need to be licensed and pass an exam:

  • Appliance installer
  • Asbestos
  • Boiler
  • Carpentry
  • Refrigeration
  • Drywall
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Elevator
  • And more

For instance, to apply for an electrical contractor license you must meet education and exam standards. To obtain an electrical contractor license from L & I office you will need:

  • A valid UBI number issued by Secretary of State or Dept. of Revenue
  • A certified, assigned electrical administrator or master electrician.
  • $4,000 contractor’s surety bond or assignment of savings account.
  • If you are planning to hire employees, a workers’ compensation account.

It’s recommended for electrical contractors to purchase general liability insurance. However, keep in mind that L&I doesn’t keep records of liability insurance for electrical contractors.

How much is a contractor license in Washington State?

The registration process of the general contractor or specialty contractor is almost identical and therefore costs almost the same. With your application package, the payment of the registration fees should be included as well. The payment requirements are as follows:

  • Registration application and renewal which is valid for two years -$117.90
  • Sole proprietorship or general partnership registration for a regular business application – $19- $24
  • LLC, LP or LLP business entity registration- $180.00
  • Registration Reinstatements- $53.60
  • Request for Certified Letter- $25.60
  • Duplicate Certificate of Registration- $12.60

The licensing fee of a general electrical contractor e.g. is $277.60 as well as $41.60 assignment of administrator fee. To renew your general electrical contractor license online you will need to pay $240.10 (by credit or debit card, or electronic check). If you decide to renew your license by mail or in person at your local L& I office you will need to pay a $277.60 renewal fee.

Mary H

Mary H

Being a skilled creative writer and SEO content writer, with 2+ years of experience I can't imagine any other profession to fulfill my life as much as writing does. As a proud member of geek culture, I enjoy reading, writing, watching Sci-Fi gems, while also advocating the involvement of young, bright-minded girls and women in STEM research. Latter was largely the result of working at UNESCO Chair, Life Sciences International Postgraduate Educational Center as an editor of scientific journals.