California Contractor Licenses

With a few exceptions, all businesses or individuals who work on any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation, or other structure in California must be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) if the total cost of one or more contracts on the project is $500 or more.

Contractor License Lookup in California

Where do you go when you want to lookup the license of a contractor in California? To find out if a contractor is licensed, click

To apply for a license, contact:

Contractors State License Board
9821 Business Park Drive
Sacramento, CA 95826
(916) 255-3900

CSLB has an automated, toll-free number (1-800-321-2752) you can use to order an application or get other information.
Forms and applications are also available online at:

Blueprint for Getting Licensed:

Description of Classifications:

The exam is closed book and has two parts which each take about two and one-half hours to finish. One part has about 100 multiple choice questions on law and business. The other part of the exam will be on whatever specific trade you apply for. The CSLB will send you a study guide for the trade. It’ll tell you the topics on the exam, the weight of each topic, and other materials you should study before taking the exam. The study guides are available online at

When you pass the examination, you will be given a bond & fee notification form at the testing site. This form will notify you of what you need to submit to meet your issuance requirements. The requirements may include the following:

– Initial Licensing Fee – $150

– Contractors Bond or Cash Deposit in the amount of $12,500.

– Bond of Qualifying Individual or Cash Deposit in the amount of $12,500.

– Completed Asbestos open book examination.

– Exemption from Worker’s Compensation, if no employees.

– Certificate of Workers Compensation Insurance or Certification of Self-Insurance of Workers Compensation from the Director of Industrial Relations.

– Fingerprinting requirements.

Contractor’s license fee: It will cost you $250 nonrefundable to apply for a license and $50 for each trade you apply for after the first. The initial license costs $150. However you can’t add a trade that requires an exam until you get your first license. A license is good for two years.

The Board may accept your trade experience and/or license in another state. However you’ll still have to apply for a license, pass the law and business part of the Board exam, and pay the appropriate fees.

Recommended reading for the business and law exam:

Accounting and Financial Management for Builders
National Association of Home Builders
P.O. Box 2900,
Forrester Center, WV 25438
(800) 223-2665
FAX: (800) 525-5562


California Building Code
ICC Order Desk,
5360 Workman Mill Road
Whittier, CA 90601-2298
(800) 786-4452
FAX: (866) 891-1695


California Contractors License Law and Reference Book – 2010 Edition
Available for purchase or to view online:
Lexis Nexis
Order Fulfillment, Lexis Nexis
1275 Broadway
Albany, NY 12204-2694
FAX: (518) 462-3788


Cal/OSHA Construction Safety Orders
California Code of Regulations, Title 8
Industrial Relations, Chapter 4, Subchapter 4
Building News, Inc.
990 Park Center Drive, Ste. E
Vista, CA 92081
(888) 264-2665


Cal/OSHA Guide for the Construction Industry
Aspen Publishers
7201 McKinney Circle
Frederick, MD 21704
(800) 317-3113
FAX (800) 561-4845


Contractors Guide to Business, Law and Project Management, Basic, Eighth Edition
23309 North 17th Drive
Building 1, Unit 110
Phoenix, Arizona 85027
(623) 587-9354
FAX: (623) 587-9625
Guide to Developing Your Workplace Injury & Illness Prevention Program
Department of Industrial Relations
2211 Park Towne Circle, Suite 4
Sacramento, CA 95825
(916) 574-2528
FAX: (916) 574-2532


“Greenbook”: Standard Specifications for Public Works Construction
Building News, Inc.
990 Park Center Drive, Ste. E
Vista, CA 92081
(888) 264-2665

Other publications CSLB recommends are:

California Employer’s Tax Guide, California Franchise Tax Board

Circular E, Employer’s Tax Guide, Internal Revenue Service

Employment Taxes and Information Returns, Internal Revenue Service

How to Succeed with Your Own Construction Business, Diller, S. & Diller, J., Craftsman Book Company, 6058 Corte del Cedro, P.O. Box 6500, Carlsbad, CA 92018

Other recommended publications on safety are available from:

Department of Industrial Relations
P.O. Box 420603
San Francisco, CA 94142-0603
(415) 703-5281


Department of Transportation (DOT)

You don’t need to be prequalified to bid on Department of Transportation (Caltrans) projects in California. However you do need to be licensed through the Contractors State License Board in the classes of work required to perform the work specified in any contract you bid on. The Department puts out a weekly listing of construction projects called “Advertisement for Bids.” To get your name included on the mailing list for this publication, send a request to:

Department of Transportation
Office Engineer/Engineering Service Center
1727 30th Street, MS #43
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 227-6287

Out-of-State Contractors

Out-of-state contractors must register with the California Secretary of State. For information, contact:

Corporate Filing Support
Secretary of State
1500 11th Street, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 657-5448

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