Yes. Independent contractors need a business license in Florida. This license is most often referred to as a contractor license and it is a legal requirement made for any contractor looking to work within the state. This license serves as a validation that the license holder is adequately qualified and insured to legally work in the sunshine state.

According to Fla. Stat § 489.105(3), a contractor is simply a “person who, for compensation, constructs, repairs, alters, remodels, adds to, demolishes, subtracts from, or improves, any building or structure, including related improvements to real estate.”

In Florida, the type of contractor license a contractor needs will depend on the scope and specific type of work the contractor intends to carry out, as substantially stipulated in one of the paragraphs of Section 489.105(3) of the Florida Statutes.

The Florida Construction Licensing Board and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) are tasked with evaluating, approving, or denying a potential licensee’s contractor license application.

These agencies are also responsible for ensuring that potential applicants meet all the necessary requirements (skills, education, experience, etc.). The contractor license application can be a complex and frustrating process, and it is advisable you seek the help of a contractor licensing company.

Types of Contractor’s Licenses in Florida

In Florida, there are two primary categories of licenses: Certified (state-level) and Registered (local-level). The Florida contractor licenses are further subdivided into two main categories: Division I Contractors and Division II Contractors.

Division I Contractors

  • General Contractor: This license grants the license holder the right to unlimited construction work such as, but not limited to constructing, repairing, altering, remodeling, and improving any type of building or structure.
  • Building Contractor: This license grants the holder the permission to construct, remodel, repair, or improve commercial or residential buildings that do not exceed three stories in height.
  • Residential Contractor: This license grants the holder the right to construct, remodel, repair, or make improvements to one, two, or three-family residences that do not exceed two (habitable) stories.

Division II Contractors

This particular license is field-specific and is known to include the following: Air-Conditioning (class A and B) Contractor, Mechanical Contractor, Plumbing Contractor, Pollutant Storage System Contractor, Pool/Spa Contractor, Roofing Contractor, Sheet Metal Contractor, Solar Contractor, Specialty Contractor, Tank Lining Applicator, and Underground Utility Contractor.

How to Obtain a Contractor’s License in Florida

To obtain this license in Florida, you will first have to decide if you need a Registered Contractor or a Certified Contractor, depending on where you intend to perform the work in Florida. You will also need to pass the relevant licensing examination (excluding Pool Contractors) administered by Professional Testing.

The licensing requirements vary slightly depending on whether the contractor chooses to become a Certified Contractor or a Registered Contractor. Once you decide, ensure to gather all the evidence detailed below and then complete all the relevant application forms for that license type. Once you fill out the application, mail it together with the paperwork specified below to:

Division of Professions

Construction Industry Licensing Board

2601 Blair Stone Road

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0791

Requirements to Obtain a Contractor License in Florida

To obtain a contractor license in Florida here are the requirements you have to meet;

  1. Certified Contractor Licensing Requirements

According to Fla. Stat. § 489.105(8), a Certified Contractor is permitted to work anywhere in the state of Florida, without meeting or fulfilling any other competency obligations with a local government. To obtain a Certified Contractor’s license, you will need to meet the following requirements;

  • Pass the Florida State Construction examination (except for Swimming Pool Specialty contractors);
  • Have four (4) years of experience, a combination of college and experience, or experience gained in the military;
  • Submit a credit report as proof of financial stability and responsibility;
  • Submit fingerprints and pass a background check;
  • Submit proof of public liability, property damage, and workers compensation insurance;
  • Pay the required fee;
  • Be at least eighteen (18) years old; and
  • Complete the required application (which is based on the type of contractor’s license)
  1. Registered Contractor Licensing Requirements

This particular license is more or less a certificate of competency from a local government, such as a county or municipality, and a registered certificate with the DBPR. According to Fla. Stat. § 489.105(10), a Registered Contractor is only allowed to offer services in the cities or counties where he or she holds a certificate of competency. To obtain this particular type of license, an applicant will have to meet the following requirements:

  • Provide evidence of possessing a certificate of competency from a local licensing office;
  • Submit a credit report as proof of financial stability and responsibility;
  • Submit fingerprints and pass a background check;
  • Submit proof of public liability, property damage, and workers compensation insurance;
  • Pay the required fee;
  • Be at least eighteen (18) years old; and
  • Complete the required application

The requirements for a Registered Contractor License can vary from one place to another; owing to that, ensure to first reach out to the local licensing office to confirm those requirements. For instance, In Duval County, an applicant will need to comply with the requirements of the Construction Trades Qualifying Board, which include:

  • Passing the local examination;
  • Submitting a summary of education, training, and experience in the construction trade;
  • Submitting proof of financial stability and responsibility;
  • Submitting a sworn statement that the applicant has not been convicted of a felony during the past five (5) years or charged with a felony at the time of the application, or provide a full statement of facts and circumstances of the conviction or charges;
  • Submitting proof of public liability, property damage, and workers compensation insurance;
  • Submitting a receipt from the Tax Collector evidencing payment of the application fee;
  • Submitting a name and address of a person authorized to accept service; and
  • Completing the required application

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Contractor License in Florida?

Have it in mind that the cost of obtaining a Florida Contractor License will vary depending on the exact type of license you are applying for, and also when the application was submitted. You will be expected to make payment in the form of personal or cashier’s checks, and payable to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Certified Contractor Application Fees

  • $249 if applying in the period between May 1st of an even year and August 31st of an odd year.
  • $149 if applying in the period between September 1st of an odd year and April 30th of an even year.

Registered Contractor Application Fees

  • $309 if applying in the period between May 1st of an odd year and August 31st of an even year.
  • $209 if applying in the period between September 1st of an even year and April 30th of an odd year.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Florida Contractor License?

To obtain a contractor license in Florida, your application will have to be reviewed by the Florida State Licensing Board once you have gathered and submitted the required evidence and documents. Waiting times can always vary, but applicants can generally expect to have a response within 30-45 business days.

Also, note that your Florida Contractor License will have to be renewed every two years. It is very necessary you submit your applications on time to ensure that they will be reviewed and renewed before the old contract expires.

Applicants for a certified license will have to renew their licenses before August 31 of every even number year, and those with registered licenses will need to do so before August 31 of every odd-number year. Have it in mind that there are varying fees for renewing, depending on whether the license is current, delinquent, active, or inactive.

  • Current active – $209 for individuals and $259 for qualifying businesses
  • Current inactive – $59
  • Delinquent active individual -$309
  • Delinquent active business – $359
  • Delinquent inactive licenses – $218.