Navigating the contractor license requirement jungle is no joke, and Nebraska is no different. That’s why we’ve made this guide that we try to keep as up to date as possible to make it easier for homeowners to hire contractors that live up to the respective requirements, and for contractors to actually live up to them.
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Nebraska Contractors License Board
Nebraska’s Department of Labor handles all applications and processes involved in issuing a contractor license. In order to regulate the issuance of contractors’ licenses, Nebraska has crafted a Contractor Registration Act for both residents and non-residents of Nebraska. This Act applies to all who want to do contracting activities in the state. Contractors’ licenses commonly expire every end of the year and must be renewed annually.
Contractors, including subcontractors, who plan to work on projects in Nebraska, as well as out-of-state companies, are required to register with the Nebraska Department of Labor. Obtaining a registration number is easy and only takes minutes. Contractors can also get their registration number online at this website: http://dol.nebraska.gov/center.cfm?PRICAT=2&SUBCAT=5G.
Since the Nebraska Department of Labor and Nebraska Department of Revenue share the same database, a contractor must also register his or her company with the Nebraska Department of Revenue for a business license if he or she is working on a project in a county that has more than 100,000 residents and their contractor license application must be on a county level. However, an exception to this is the electrical contractor license that is of a state-level. This is also applicable to non-residents but they have an additional requirement of registering with the Nebraska Secretary of State.
Information about registering with the Nebraska Department of Revenue can be checked at http://www.revenue.state.ne.us/index.html or by contacting them at 301 Centennial Mall South, P.O. Box 94818, Lincoln, NE 68509-4818, with telephone number (402) 471-2971 and fax number (402) 471-5608. The registration fee with them costs $25.
For those who also need register their company with Nebraska’s Secretary of State, including the out-of-state companies, you can do so by checking this website for their requirements (under the Out-of-State Corporations heading): http://www.sos.ne.gov/dyindex.html. You can also directly reach them by calling (402) 471-4079 or at PO Box 94608 Lincoln, NE 68509-4608. The out-of-state companies are required to obtain a Certificate of Authority to do Business in Nebraska from this office.
Contractors applying for an electrical contractor license have a different set of requirements and must lodge their application at the Nebraska State Electrical Division. They can apply at https://www.nebraska.gov/sed/license_application/index.cgi.
Qualified contractors can also bid on projects of the Nebraska Department of Roads if they are prequalified. Contractors can request for an application for prequalification by contacting their Contract Lettings Division at 1500 Nebraska Highway 2, P.O. Box 94759, Lincoln, NE 68509-4759, sending a fax at (402) 479-4325, or calling them at (402) 479-4525. They can also check out their website at http://www.dor.state.ne.us/.
Like the Nebraska Department of Roads, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services also allows contractors to work with them on different projects. To do so, a qualified contractor should contact them at (402) 471-3121 or head directly to their office at 301 Centennial Mall South, P.O. Box 94818, Lincoln, NE 68509-4818. Those interested may also reach them by mail at P.O. Box 95026, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5026, which should be addressed to the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services.
Bonds are required for contractors that will work on projects that are valued at $2,500 or more and this is applicable for each contract. For those ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, contractors must pay a bond of $1,000. For projects worth more than $10,000, a contractor must pay 10% of the value of the project or contract for those that are more than $10,000 and up to $100,000 and 5% of the value if it exceeds $100,000.
Each applicant is required to pay an application fee of $40, as well as other fees that depend on the type of license they are applying for. To apply, contractors can personally go to the Nebraska Workforce Development – Department of Labor office at 5404 Cedar Street, Third Floor, Omaha, NE 68106-2365 to pick up an application form, or they can do that online through this website: http://www.dol.state.ne.us/nwd/center.cfm?PRICAT=4&SUBCAT=4F. For other queries, they can be reached at (402) 595-3189.
Each contractor with at least one employee also has to provide the Department with an up-to-date Workers’ Compensation Certificate of Insurance, known as the ACORD 25 or Certificate of Liability Insurance. This insurance must be worth $100,000 for each employee. The contractor must also provide liability insurances worth $300,000 for accidents and $100,000 in case of property damage. Note that the premiums of the insurance, including those of the workers, are always shouldered by the contractor.
The Contractor Registration Act also has made it a point to impose statutory penalties to contractors who work on projects without first registering and obtaining a license in Nebraska. A contractor who violates this is required to pay up to $500 for the first offense and up to $5,000 for repeated violations.
Those who are unregistered in accordance to the act and are penalized are given a grace period of 60 days to register before they are required to pay the penalty. For companies, they can only contest the penalty within 15 days.
The Importance of Hiring a Contractor with a License
Like in other states, contractors with a license valid in Nebraska assures clients and would-be-clients that they are skilled and qualified for the project. Construction projects generally cost a lot and homeowners can actually save more money if they work with a licensed contractor instead of getting unlicensed ones that have lower rates, contrary to popular belief. More often than not, these unlicensed contractors are not that qualified to take on the project and homeowners end up spending a lot more money and wasting materials just to repair or correct the errors made in the project. Homeowners are also assured that the work is done professionally and can last for years to come.
Licensed contractors have been briefed by the laws and rules when it comes to contracting in Nebraska so they know the dos and don’ts when it comes to the work. Homeowners can rest easy that they will be able to finish the project, unlike those who don’t have licenses that can easily disappear in the middle of the project. In case a licensed contractor is unable to finish the work, surety bonds are in place so homeowners are still compensated.
Since Nebraska also requires contractors to provide proof of insurance for their workers, there is also assurance that these workers will still get to be compensated in case of unfortunate incidents while working on a project.
Nebraska Contractor License Search and Lookup
Those who wish to check the licenses of contractors in Nebraska can do so in the database of Nebraska Department of Labor, which is https://dol.nebraska.gov/conreg/Search. This database is applicable for both licensed general contractors and sub-contractors.
The database that can be used for license lookups for electrical contractors can be found at http://www.nebraska.gov/sed/search/index.cgi.
Contractor License Classifications
Nebraska only issues two general types of contractors’ licenses, which are the general contractor’s license and the electrical contractor’s license.
General Contractor’s License
The general contractor’s license is not considered as a certification but as a business process, so those applying for one do not have to undergo examinations. The submitted application and other requirements will be checked by the board to see if they are qualified to be issued a general contractor’s license or not. This license applicable for those contractors with projects involving demolition, construction and reconstruction, alteration, repairs and installation, and additions of various structures.
Acquiring a general contractor’s license in Nebraska allows a contractor to bid on projects under the Nebraska Department of Roads, but they have to be prequalified first. Prequalification involves finding out various aspects about the contractor, such as his or her work experience, company, available workers and equipment, and financial capacity, among others. The department handles various projects that contractors can bid on, such as bridges, grading, culverts, landscaping, bituminous, guardrails and fences, aggregates, demolition, signing, electrical, building construction, and painting.
Licensed general contractors are also allowed to apply for projects spearheaded by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Interested contractors must pay various fees that depend on the year and type of contracting service they plan to bid on. These fees are:
For years ending in odd numbers:
- $150 each for the pump installation supervisor and contractor, well drilling or pump installation contractor and supervisor, well drilling contractor and supervisor, and water well monitoring technician.
For years ending in even numbers:
- From January to June: also $150 each for the well drilling contractor and supervisor, well drilling or pump installation contractor and supervisor, water well monitoring technician, and pump installation supervisor and contractor.
- From July to December: $37.50 each for the well drilling or pump installation contractor and supervisor, water well monitoring technician, pump installation supervisor and contractor, and well drilling contractor and supervisor.
Electrical Contractor’s License
Nebraska only requires electrical contractor license applicants to undergo and pass their examinations, except for those registering as an apprentice electrician. Nebraska also only grants state-level licenses to qualified contractors who pass one of Nebraska’s three municipality examination programs. Note that this exam is an open-book type and takes around three hours, with at least 50 questions. The examination covers the following topics:
- Blueprint reading
- Basic electricity information
- National Electric Code of 2014
- Emergency circuits, including the fire alarm circuits
- The Nebraska State Electrical Act
The electrical contractor’s license is much more specialized in Nebraska. Unlike the general contractor’s license, this type has different classifications and different requirements. Available classifications for the electrical contractor’s license, including their requirements and allowed scope of work, are as follows:
- Apprentice Electrician – this license allows the holder to work under the tutelage of a Nebraska licensed electrical contractor. they are only allowed to work on electrical wirings if they are being directly supervised by an electrical contractor license holder under the State Electrical Act and only when on-the-job. Aside from their on-the-job training, they can also undergo board-approved related classroom training. To register, applicants must pay $40 during odd numbered years and $20 during even numbered years.
- Fire Alarm Electrician – license holders are allowed to install fire alarm systems and their components as long as they operate at a voltage not exceeding 50 volts. License fees are $25 when applying during an even numbered year and $50 during an odd numbered year, while the exam fee is $60. The only requirement for this license is experience in terms of planning, laying out, and installation of fire systems of two years or more.
- Residential Journeyman Electrician – those holding this type of license are allowed to wire and install equipment, apparatus, and electrical wirings but only in residential buildings. They are also allowed to take on apprentice electricians and supervise them. To apply for this license, applicants must pay an application fee of $25 during even numbered years or $50 during odd numbered years and an examination fee of $60. Only the applicants who meet the following requirements can apply for this license:
A valid work experience of 3 years or more as an apprentice electrician, with electrical experience in the military or the completion of a two-year post-high school diploma course in the electrical field considered as one-year experience each, or
A field experience of 2 years or more and a degree in electrical technology and post-high school electric wiring diploma course.
- Journeyman Electrician – licensees are qualified to work as supervisors of apprentice electricians in Nebraska, as well as being able to install apparatus and electrical wirings and equipment. The application fees are $50 during odd numbered years and $25 during even numbered years, while the examination fee is $60. Qualifications for this license are:
Division-approved work experience of at least 4 years as an apprentice electrician (those who had electrical experience during their military service and those who were able to complete a two-year post-high school electrical course (with a degree in electrical technology) will be credit with a year’s worth of work experience each), or
Division-approved work experience of three years and the completion of an electrical wiring diploma course from an accredited school.
- Electrical Contractor – having this type of license means that the contractor has sufficient training, experience, technical knowledge and qualification in order to correctly lay out and plan, install, and oversee installations of apparatus, wiring, and other equipment for a structure’s electric heat, light, and power. The applicants of this license must first fulfill any of the following requirements before they can be allowed to take the examinations:
A four-year electrical course graduate from a university or college that is accredited by the Division,
Experience of 5 years or more related to the scope of the license, such as planning, laying out, supervision, and installation of different equipment or wiring apparatus for electric-powered heat, light, and power that is credited by the board, or
An experience of one year or more working as a journeyman electrician in Nebraska (with license) that the board will find acceptable.
Plumbing Contractor’s License
Unless working in a county that has a population of 100,000 or more, plumbing contractors are not required to obtain a license. Otherwise, they should apply for a general contractor’s license and submit the same requirements. Certain cities also have additional requirements for plumbing contractors.
Roofing Contractor’s License
Nebraska generally does not require roofing contractors to acquire a license to do roofing projects, except for selected cities. If so, they must also obtain a general contractor’s license.
Biggest Cities in the State
The contractor license in Nebraska is state-level regulated, so the requirements are the same, regardless if a contractor wants to do business in the state’s cities, such as in Omaha, Lincoln, Bellevue, Grand Island, Kearney, Fremont, Hastings, Norfolk, North Platte, or Columbus. However, certain cities have additional or specific requirements before they can issue a contractor’s license to an applicant.
City of Omaha
General contractors in the city of Omaha have 5 specific license types that they can apply for and these are the following:
- Class A – allowed to work in all types of residential and commercial buildings, including high-rise ones
- Class B – can only work in structures that do not exceed a height of four stories
- Class C – only permits contractors to work on homes and duplex buildings
- Class D – following the International Residential Code, they must only work on remodeling projects, as well as residential additions
- Class E – limited to the installation of sidings, roofing, doors, fences, windows, and decks.
Those who wish to check Omaha’s license database can call (402) 444-5350.
City of Blair
The City of Blair also has a number of contractor types specific to the city, as well as additional requirements for the following contractors, aside from the state-level requirements set by the respective license boards:
- General Contractor – a Certificate of Liability is required, with the Certificate Holder named under “City of Blair. It should also have a coverage of $300,000 minimum for every occurrence or an aggregate of $1,000,000. Contractors must also submit their contractor registration issued by the Nebraska Department of Labor. They are not required a permit bond but must pay the $60 license fee.
- Plumbing Contractor – work experience of a minimum of 5 years under the supervision of a Master, a score of 70% or more on the test administered by the city, as well as their Nebraska Department of Labor-issued contractor registration is required. Contractors are also required to have a $5,000 permit bond and payment of the $60 license fee.
- Mechanical Contractor – same requirements as that of the plumbing contractor, including the required permit bond and license fee.
- Electrical Contractor – contractors must submit copies of their current Contractor Registration under the Nebraska Department of Labor and their current State Electrical Card. They also have a $5,000 permit bond and $60 license fee requirement.
- Journeyman or Apprentice (electrical, mechanical, or plumbing) – they should be supervised by a Master that has obtained a contractor license from the City of Blair. An Electrical Journeyman or Apprentice is also required to pass a copy of their current State Electrical Card. No permit bond is required but they need to pay the $25 fee.
- Drain Layer – also the same requirements, including the license fee and permit bond, as that of the Plumbing Contractor but the required work experience is a minimum of 3 years only.
- Water Service Line Installer – same requirements with a Drain Layer.
- Gas Line Installer – only the payment of the $25 license fee is required.
- Tree Trimmer – a contractor only needs to have the permit bond of $5,000 and pay the license fee of $60.
- Fire or Security System Installer – requirements are the same with an Electrical Contractor but they only need to pay their license fee of $25.
City of Scottsbluff
General Contractors are not required to obtain a license in the City of Scottsbluff. Instead, they must register with the City before bidding and taking on projects within its jurisdiction. They only need to fill out the Contractor Registration Form and pay the registration fee of $50. Registration is renewed annually for $25.
While Electrical Contractors do not have to register in the City, they still need to provide proof of their registration from the State of Nebraska.
Plumbing Contractors must first register their business, if they are working as a company, and they can renew this annually by paying $15. Apprentices are also required to register but do not need to pay a fee. A Journeyman, Master Plumber, or Limited License holder must register and pay $25 for Master License holders and $15 for Limited or Journeyman License holders.
City of Lincoln
Additional requirements for contractors in the City of Lincoln involve contractor bonds and insurance, and these depend on the type of project the contractor will do. Note that the insurance must include the City of Lincoln as an additional insured, with a 30-day cancellation notice, and it can either have a combined single limit aggregate or per occurrence. The requirements are as follows:
- Excavation Contractor – this is under license from the Public Works Department and requires a $500,000 insurance. The $5,000 bond is only applicable for excavations in the City’s Right of Way.
- Sidewalk Contractor and Lawn Sprinkler Contractor – also requires a $500,000 insurance.
- Use of Public Space (for street use) – same insurance and bond as with an Excavation Contractor but contractors can, in lieu of the bond, provide a $5,000 or $25,000 certified check that is payable to the City of Lincoln.
- Demolition – for unit apartments (3 or more) and commercial structures, a $500,000 insurance is obligatory.
- Sign Contractor – the company must pay a $50 registration fee and have a $500,000 insurance and $5,000 bond.
- Electrical Contractor – good for 2 years, the Electrical Contractor must register for $250 and have an insurance of $500,000.
- House Mover – a payment of $100 for registration is mandatory, together with a $1,000,000 insurance and $25,000 bond or also a certified check in lieu of the bond.
- Water Conditioner Contractor – an installer must only pay the $20 fee, while the contractor must pay the $50 fee and have a $500,000 insurance.
- Deco or Fireplace Contractor – the contractor must pay a registration fee of $150 and insurance of $500,000, while the installer must only pay the $25 registration fee.
- Fire Alarm Contractor – valid for 2 years, only the $200 registration fee is compulsory for the installer.
- HVAC Contractor – aside from the $500,000 insurance, the registration fee of $350 for the Master Contractor, $50 for the Inactive Master, $25 for the Journeyman Technician, and $15 for the Apprentice is needed.
- Fiber Optic Contractor – a $250 registration fee is required, which is valid for 1 year, as well as a $1,000,000 insurance and $5,000 bond or certified check instead of the bond.
- Pyrotechnic Display – only requires a $5,000 bond and $2,000,000 insurance.
- Fire Sprinkler and Chemical and Gas Extinguishing Contractor – the registration fee that should be pay is $100 for the Contractor and $15 each for the Journeyman and Apprentice, with the Contractor also required an insurance of $500,000.
The City of Lincoln also has specific requirements in terms of the insurance certificate and bonds, namely:
For contractors with projects involving fire, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, street use, signs and demolition, the certificate:
- Must have the business name,
- The general liability policy must have the City of Lincoln as an additional insured, and this endorsement should be noted as “City of Lincoln as an additional insured” on the Certificate of Insurance,
- Must be signed by the authorized agent,
- Should also contain the policy number (binder numbers are invalid)
- Each occurrence must have a minimum liability of $500,000,
- A Certificate of Insurance, or a standard ACORD form, must be presented. Contractors can also send them through fax, and
- The Master’s name must be indicated on the certificate as an insured for HVAC, electrical, fire, and plumbing contractors.
Bond requirements for permits of contractors involved in street signs, street use, and excavation projects:
- The bond or cashier’s check of $5,000 should be made payable to the City of Lincoln, together with an attached certified Power of Attorney, including the bond’s execution date, unless the bond is signed by the Officer of the Surety Company.
- It must have a start and end date and should be a one-year renewable bond.
- Only originals are accepted.
Contractors’ License Reciprocity
Only the Electrical Contractor’s License issued in Nebraska has reciprocity agreements with other states. This allows the electrical contractor licensees to possibly obtain the same level of contractor license but in another state, without the need to fulfill all the requirements of the state. Typically, contractor reciprocity agreements no longer require the licensees to take the exams of the states with these kinds of agreements between them.
On a state-level, the licensee must have a score of 75% or higher on the licensure exam of the state where he or she has obtained a valid license and of good standing for at least a year. The examination score requirement also applies on a municipal-level license reciprocity in Nebraska.
Nebraska only has contractor license reciprocity agreements with the following states:
For Electrical Contractor Licenses:
For Journeyman Licenses only:
Contractors’ License reciprocity agreements between the cities of Nebraska are also in place. In particular, contractors with projects in the City of Blair need not take the examinations if they have passed a recognized or standard national block test or are registered in Fremont, Papillion, Bellevue, Norfolk, Lincoln, and Omaha.