Making sure that you know about the relevant license rules in New York State is important no matter if you’re a contractor or homeowner. This article will take you through everything you need to know with that regards, including the contact information of the different departments that you should know about.
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New York Contractor’s License Board
The state-level contractor’s licenses offered in the New York State are limited, as most contractor licenses here are regulated at the local level, specifically by the cities and counties of the State.
For the state-level licenses, which are for crane operators and asbestos handling contractors, these are handled by the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Safety and Health Licensing and Certification Unit. For applications, contractors should go to https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/shformsandpublications.shtm for asbestos contractors and https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/safetyhealth/Crane%20Tests%20&%20classifications.shtm for crane operators to check the requirements for each type of license and download the necessary application forms. They can also request for application packets to be mailed to them by calling their main office at (518) 457-2735. Submission of the application forms and requirements must be done personally at their office located at Building 12, Room 161A, Harriman State Office Campus, Albany, NY 12240.
Out-of-state corporations are allowed to be contractors in the State, provided that they register with the New York Secretary of State prior to conducting their business. To do so, they can contact the office of the Division of Corporations located at 41 State Street, Albany NY 12231, call them at (518) 473-2492, or send a fax at (518) 474-5173 or email at [email protected].
The New York State also requires individual applicants to attach their filled-out child support obligation forms that can be found at this website: https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/GO1.pdf. Contractors applying for a license must not owe child support to anyone when they file their license application.
Licensed New York State contractors are allowed to bid on projects of the State that are under the Department of Transportation. Available projects that are up for bids can be found in the Notice of Highway Lettings that contractors can have an annual subscription for by paying $32. The Standard Specifications, which is where the requirements of each project are listed, can be bought for $25. No pre-qualification is required to bid on the different projects but the Department might require an interview to determine if the contractor is fully qualified to take on the project. The questionnaire form, as well as the different publications, can be found here: https://www.nysdot.gov/publications.
How to Get a Contractor’s License and the Advantages of Getting One
Before a contractor can work on a project in most cities and counties in the New York State, they must be first be at least 18 years old and should be registered at the local level, with the exception of crane operators and asbestos contractors who are licensed at the state level.
Before an asbestos contractor will be issued a license, the New York State requires them to obtain an asbestos certificate. This is issued once a contractor has undergone training in one or more of the asbestos safety programs by an accredited provider. The contractor will then have to apply for a Supervisor Certificate from the Asbestos Licensing and Certification Unit of the State Department. Fees for this certificate depend on the training and license they wish to acquire. The amount contractors must pay are:
- $50 for the handler, restricted handler, or operations and maintenance,
- $75 for the air sampling technician or supervisor,
- $100 for the inspector, and
- $150 for the management planner, project designer, and project monitor.
Together with the certificate, contractors must submit their application form (with the contractor’s signature in ink), pay a non-refundable application fee of $500, and an Application for Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Note that only the following forms for Workers’ Compensation will be accepted:
- C 105.2 or Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- CE 200 or Certification of Attestation of Exemption
- GSI 12 or Certificate of Group Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- GSI 105.2 or Certificate of Participation in Workers’ Compensation Group Self-Insurance
- SI 12 or Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance
- U 26.3 or the State Insurance Fund’s version of the C-105.2
Crane operators in the State are likewise required to obtain a certification before they can be issued a license, as well as a minimum of 3 years practical experience, which has been supervised by a licensed operator. This applies to all contractors that will operate a tower crane, as well as a crane that has a maximum rated capacity of more than five tons and a boom length of more than forty feet. They are also required to have completed a course of 40 hours or more that focuses on the state’s safety and construction regulations, pass the required health and medical requirements for operating a crane, and submit themselves to a background check.
The Crane Operator Certificate of Competence must only be issued by either the American National Standards Institute or the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. Contractors applying for this license must also pay a $150 processing fee, which is non-refundable, and pass the written and operational examinations that are given by the State’s accredited organizations. These examinations will depend on the class of crane license an applicant is applying for.
Most local level general contractor licenses in the New York State commonly require the applicants to submit a filled-out application form, pay the corresponding fees, proof of liability, proof of identification, and proof of worker’s compensation insurance.
Contractors with projects in the New York State should get themselves licensed if they are working with asbestos or cranes. Aside from it being a requirement, it ensures that they are up-to-date with all the safety requirements, knowledge and skills, and rules and regulations of the State that is related to their work.
Importance of Hiring a Contractor with a License
Dealing with asbestos is widely known as a health hazard due to its particles, and operating cranes is undeniably a very complicated task. If not handled correctly, these will pose health and safety issues, not only to the workers but also to those just within the immediate vicinity of the construction site. This is why it is of upmost importance that only licensed contractors should be hired for the tasks that involve these. Licensed contractors are proven to be skilled in the field and know how to ensure that these possible issues are prevented, or at least quickly solved in case of untoward incidents related to the task. Licensed asbestos contractors know when to stop working in case the air in the area is no longer ideal, while licensed crane operators have the skills and knowledge required to operate cranes, which are one of the most complicated machines to operate.
Contractor License Classifications
Only the asbestos contractors and crane operators can be issued a state-level license in the New York State. For other types of contractors, including general contractors, their licenses are regulated by the different cities and counties in the state.
Asbestos Contractor License
New York State has nine types of certifications available when it comes to licensing asbestos contractors, namely:
- operations and maintenance,
- allied trades,
- management planner,
- asbestos project air sampling technician,
- asbestos handler(worker),
- project designer,
- project monitor, and
An asbestos license is valid for one whole year after the date of issuance. The Department will mail a license renewal application form to licensees around 60 days before his or her current license expires.
Crane Operator License
Different classifications for the crane operator license are also available for the New York State. These depend on the experience of a contractor, as well as the classification of the crane he or she will be operating. The crane operator license in the State has the following classifications:
- Class A – Unrestricted or cranes that have a free fall capability, conventional tower cranes, and fixed lattice boom with or without a free fall capability. Its unrestricted status means that the operator can use any type of crane.
- Class B – Hydraulic or for hydraulic cranes that come with a swinging cab and telescopic boom and without any restriction on the crane’s maximum manufacturer’s rating. It also includes boom trucks that have a manufacturer’s rated capacity of 28 tons, truck mounted self-erecting tower cranes. Operators with this classification are also to operate cranes under Class C and Class D.
- Class C – Boom Truck or cranes that have truck mounted telescopic booms with a maximum manufacturer’s rated capacity of up to 28 tons. This classification also allows the licensee to operate cranes that fall under Class D.
- Class D – Restricted Boom Truck or cranes known as sign hangers, cranes that have a maximum manufacturer’s rated capacity of up to 3 tons and come with telescopic booms that are truck mounted, and those with up to 125 feet of boom.
- Class E – Reserved
- Class F – Line trucks or digger derricks. Suitable only for electrical operations, the cranes under this classification have up to 15 tons of maximum manufacturer’s rated capacity, a boom length of up to 65 feet, and uses a non-conductive tip with a nylon rope.
Biggest Cities and Counties
Unlike most states, the New York State mandates its cities and counties to regulate their general contractors’ licenses locally, that’s why the requirements for this type of license vary. The requirements in New York City for general contractors have both similarities and differences with the requirements of Albany, Buffalo, Mount Vernon, Rochester, New Rochelle, Syracuse, Schenectady, Utica, or Yonkers. However, some parts of the State do not require contractors to be licensed, as long as they fulfill the requirements set by the city or county.
New York City
General contractors in New York City are commonly referred to as “Home Improvement Contractors.” These contractors are required to have a contractor’s license issued by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs if they are working on projects that have a total project cost of $200 or more. It is required that they understand English, know how to read and write, and be of good character.
A background check of the applicant must first be conducted before the contractor can proceed to his or her application. If they pass, they will need to make an appointment with a licensing specialist who will assist in accomplishing the requirements, as well as check their validity. Note that only original documents, unless indicated otherwise, will be accepted. The requirements to obtain a home improvement contractor’s license include:
- General Contractor Registration Form, or LIC6, which must be typewritten, signed, and notarized. This form can be downloaded here: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/industry/applications-forms.page
- Letter indicating the names, home addresses, social security numbers, and percentage of shares of all the stockholders and officers. This must also be notarized and signed.
- Either the three most recent business bank account statements for the company that indicate a $25,000 minimum balance or a notarized letter from the bank that shows this balance for the past year
- Either a Certificate of Authority Application Confirmation Number or Sales Tax Identification Number
- Certificate of general liability insurance with a coverage of $1,000,000, as well as disability and workers’ compensation insurance certificates
- The company’s roster of employees
- Signed copy of either a surety bond or third-party bond or a DCA Trust Fund Enrollment with the $200 fee paid
- Proof of both business and home addresses
The application can be filed online through https://a858-elpaca.nyc.gov/aca_redirect/redirect.aspx?Services=Home%20Improvement%20Contractor%20Application|LICENSING, or personally submitted at New York City’s DCA Licensing Center at 42 Broadway, Manhattan.
Once the requirements are approved, the Home Improvement Exam must be taken by either the contractor or someone from the company, specifically a shareholder with 10% or more stocks, general partner, sole proprietor, member, or corporate officer, who must undergo fingerprinting at the Licensing Center. This exam is comprised of 30 questions only and applicants must correctly answer 21 questions or above and should be done within 30 days after filing the application. The examination fee is $50.
The fee for the license, which is valid for 2 years once approved but expires every February 28 during odd years, depends on the date and year of filing the application. To be specific it is:
- $25 for applications made between September 1 (odd year) to February 28 (even) year, but applicants may also pay a prorated fee of $125 if it is within 6 months of the expiration date. The prorated fee includes payment for the remaining license term, as well as the renewal fee for the next term.
- $50 if filed between March 1 (even year) to August 31 (even year)
- $75 when between September 1 (odd year) to February 28 or 29 (even year)
- $100 for those between March 1 (odd year) to August 31 (odd year)
New York City-licensed home improvement contractors are allowed to do repairs, remodeling, and construction of residential structures, such as working on garages, terraces, fences, basements, porches, driveways, landscaping, sidewalks, and swimming pools, among others.
Like in New York City, general contractors in Nassau County are also referred to as “Home Improvement Contractors.” These contractors should also be at least 18 years old, be of good moral character, and know how to read, write, and speak in English. Licenses are handled by Nassau’s Office of Consumer Affairs.
Those who have a contractor license issued in Nassau are allowed to work on private residential projects or dwelling places that do not exceed three families as its residents. They can deal with remodeling, repair, modernization, replacement, addition, or conversion of the house itself and the adjacent land. Licensed contractors are also allowed to construct, install, renovate, or replace swimming pools, sheds, driveways, garages, home heating and cooling systems, sandblasting, awnings and windows, porches, floor refinishing, and installation of carpets. They can also do gardening and landscaping projects, provided that they use their own vehicles to transport their own equipment for the task.
The application requirements for a home contractor’s license in Nassau County are:
- Filled-out application form (using blue or black ink only) that has been notarized
- Those working with a partnership or corporation are also required to submit the blue disclosure form that must be filled out by all of its stockholders, partners, directors, officers, managers, and employees that are involved in negotiating contracts. It should also be notarized
- Two 2×2 photos that are professionally taken and are not older than 6 months. This applies to the contractor and those part of the corporation or partnership who have submitted their forms
- Proof of residence for those who submitted application and blue disclosure forms, which should indicate their physical addresses only. Acceptable proof are copies of a current utility bill or lease for the business and the business phone bill indicating the business phone number, which should only be a landline number
- A Nassau County business certificate and Blumberg Form #X201 for individual applicants, a Nassau County partnership certificate and Blumberg Form #X74 for partnerships, and the following for corporations: a list indicating all of the corporation’s stockholders, officers, and management team, a copy of the Secretary of State’s Filing receipt, and a Nassau County Consumer Affairs Certificate of Insurance. If applicable, they should also submit the Assumed Name Certificate or DBA, minutes of the meeting when the corporate structure has been modified, proof of worker’s compensation insurance, and a list of all contractors and proof of insurance for sub-contractors. Corporations established within three years or more of the application must also submit a Certificate of Good Standing that comes from the New York Bureau of Corporations
- Certificate of Insurance, with Nassau County Consumer Affairs indicated as its certificate holder
- Certificate of Attestation Form (CE-200) from the Workman’s Compensation Board for individual contractors or Certificate of Workman’s Compensation for all employees for contractors with workers
- NY Sales Tax number for those who collect sales taxes and a Federal Employers Identification number
- Payment of fees in certified postal money or check only
The application fee costs $500 and once approved, it is valid for two years. They should also pay a restitution payment of $50 for every application. The application fee and the restitution payment must be in separate checks or postal money. When issued, the home improvement contractor’s license must be displayed in every location of the business and its copies must be available in every company vehicle being used.
One of the richest counties not only in the New York State but also in the whole country, Putnam County also requires general contractors, similarly referred to as Home Improvement Contractors, to register with the county. They do not require contractors to have a general contractor or home improvement contractor license. Handled by the Office of Consumer Affairs, Putnam County only regulates and issues licenses to plumbers and electricians, not contractors.
To register, contractors must fulfill the following:
- Registration form that has been completely filled out using ink or had been printed out
- Certificate of Liability Insurance that should be an ACORD form. Make sure that the Certificate Holder is listed as the following: Putnam County Consumer Affairs, 110 Old Route 6, Bldg. 3, Carmel, NY 10512. It should also have Putnam County Consumer Affairs as its additional insured.
- Exemption Form CE-200 or Workers’ Compensation Form C105.2 or U26.3 that indicates Putnam County Consumer Affairs as the Certificate Holder
- License and Permit bond (original) worth $25,000 valid for 2 years must have the principal’s signature. The Putnam County Department of Consumer Affairs must be listed as the obligee.
- Child support form (only for individual contractors)
- Latest copies of vehicle registration forms used in the business
- Filled-out and notarized Affidavit of Compliance E-verify Form
- If available, general contractor’s license or home improvement contractor’s license that has been issued by other municipalities
- Valid driver’s license (with photo) issued by the state where a contractor lives. If his or her current residential address is different from the one stated in the license, he or she must also submit proof of the current address
- Registration fee payment amounting to $250 that is either through money order or check only and should be made payable to the Putnam County Commissioner of Finance
First time applicants are also required to submit:
- Certified Business Certificate if filing as an individual
- Certified Partnership Certificate if filing as a member of a partnership
- Corporate Filing Receipt if filing as part of a corporation. Applicants must also submit in person or via email a photo of the corporation’s highest ranking corporate official, partner, or owner
- Certificate of Attendance from the Lawn Care Best Management Practices. This is for lawn care and landscaping contractors only.
The application form and other requirements must be personally submitted at the Consumer Affairs office.
City of Buffalo
It is required by the City of Buffalo for contractors to be issued General Contractor (or GNC) grade licenses by the Office of Licenses under the Department of Economic Development, Permit and Inspection Services before they can take on any construction project in the city. Licensed contractors are allowed to work on both commercial and residential projects, including remodeling, repairs, alterations, or modernizations. However, they cannot work on the following: heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical work.
The categories of contractors that can be issued a license in Buffalo include:
- Construction Manager
- Handyman Contractor
- Light Commercial Contractor
- Specialty Contractor
- Demolition Contractor
- General Contractor
- New Housing Contractor
A major requirement of the city is that contractors must have an extensive contractor experience in advanced construction work before they can be granted a license by the city. Other requirements are:
- Completed application form
- Two recent passport-sized photos
- Proof of business name
- Liability insurance certificate (ACORD form) that has a $2,000,000 aggregate coverage for general and demolition contractors, $500,000 aggregate coverage for those under the specialty, light commercial, sub-contractor, and new housing categories, and $50,000 aggregate coverage for the construction manager and handyman. Note that the Certificate Holder must be the following: City of Buffalo Office of Licenses 301 City Hall Buffalo, NY 14202.
- Applicants with workers must also have proof of the workers’ compensation insurance using forms C105.2, GSI-105.2, SI-12, or U-26.3. Otherwise, individual applicants must submit a CE-200 Exemption Form that indicates that there is no need to submit proof of worker’s compensation insurance
- For residential projects, a City of Buffalo Home Improvement Contract
- For projects involving demolition work, applicants must provide their resumé indicating their experience in demolition work, reference letters, and an inventory list of their demolition equipment that must meet the current standards
- Specialty trade applicants must also pass specific trade certifications
General contractors must also be granted licenses first before they can work on projects in the City of Yonkers. They must apply for a Home Improvement Contractor’s license in the city that is good for 2 years when issued. This must also be obtained prior to working on renovations of homes where up to a maximum of 3 families live.
Applying for this license requires passing a background check and submitting the following:
- Completed application form signed before a Notary Public
- A copy of the valid driver’s license or Motor Vehicle issued ID card of the applicant
- Copy of the vehicle registration of each vehicle used for the business
- For those collecting sales taxes, they must also present their valid Certificate of Authority card issued by the New York State Department of Taxation
- For individual contractors, the Certificate of Insurance (form CE-200) must have a coverage of $500,000. Those with workers must submit a Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance Form C105.2 or SI-12. Both insurance certificates must indicate the following as the certificate holder: City of Yonkers, Office of Licensing/Consumer Protection/Weights and Measures
- Payment in cash, business check, or money order of the $300 application fee. If paying through check, it should be made payable to The City of Yonkers
New York State Contractor’s License Reciprocity
A contractor’s license reciprocity allows a licensed contractor from a state, city, or county to bypass some of the licensing requirements of the partner state, city, or county that issued his or her license. This means that the contractor licensed from State A may be able to get a license from State B, which has a license reciprocity agreement with State A, without the need to submit all of the requirements or even take the required exams. Different states have different requirements in terms of applying for another contractor license via this agreement, so it is better to check it with the local licensing board.
Unfortunately, New York State does not have any contractor’s license reciprocity with any other state, both at the state level and between counties and cities within the State. The local level reciprocity agreement between Westchester County and Putnam County is only applicable for Master Electricians, not electrical contractors.
Contractor License Search and Lookup
The licenses of asbestos contractors in the New York State can be searched at the online database of the Department, which can be found here: https://www.labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/safetyhealth/active-asbestos-contractor-list.shtm. No online database is available for the licensed crane operators, so those who would like to check might be able to do so by sending an email to the Licensing and Certification Unit at labor.sm.DOSH.License&[email protected] or calling them at (518) 457-2735. The email address and phone number is also applicable for those who wish to check on the list of asbestos contractor licensees.
For local-level contractor licenses, the different cities and counties of the New York State are the ones that have the database for their local licensees, so the licenses can be checked at the their respective licensing board’s offices.