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General Contractor Licensing in Washington

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The State of Washington requires individuals and businesses to register with the Department of Labor & Industries before performing work as a general contractor.  The process of registration in the State of Washington is similar to the licensing process in other states, except, Washington does not require general contractors to take an exam.  The Department of Labor & Industries also does not require applicants to submit proof of education and work experience.

Once registered with their local Department of Labor & Industries, general contractors are allowed to work on or supervise work on a number of building trades and crafts.

Process to Obtain a Washington Registered General Contractor Status

  1. Applicants must choose their business type.  General contractors have the choice of operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership.  They may also operate as a corporation, LP, LLP or LLC.
  2. Fill out a Business License application to get a Unified Business Number (UBI#).  Applicants must also get an IRS employee ID number if they are planning to employ workers.
  3. Fill out the Application for Contractor Registration and have it notarized by the local Department of Labor & Industries office.
  4. Applicants must obtain a surety bond and general liability insurance.
  5. Submit the registration application along with all required documentation and the registration fee.
*Corporations, LPs, LLPs and LLCs must also register their business with the Washington Secretary of State’s Office.  

Preparing for Registration

There are a few steps applicants must complete before they submit their registration application.  It is important to follow these steps to avoid delays in the registration process.

Applicants must decide the type of business that they plan to operate as a general contractor.  Applicants have the choice of operating as a:

  • Sole Proprietor
  • General Partnership
  • Corporation
  • Limited Partnership (LP)
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Any business operating as a corporation, LP, LLP or LLC must register their business with the Washington Secretary of State.  There is a fee of $180.  This process may be sped up for an additional charge.

To register, call the Washington Secretary of State Office at:  360-725-0377

After determining the business type, ALL applicants are required to apply for a Uniform Business Identifier Number (UBI number).  In order to get a UBI number, applicants must fill out a Business License Application.  For more information, to download a copy of the application, or to complete the application online, please visit:

http://bls.dor.wa.gov/file.aspx

Applicants can also pick up a physical copy of the Business License Application at their local Department of Revenue, Employment Security or Labor & Industries office.

There is a fee of $15 to $20 for businesses to get their UBI number.

General contractors, who plan to have employees, must also obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).  This is a free number provided by the IRS for all businesses who employ workers.

To obtain an EIN number, contact the IRS at: 1-800-829-4933

It is also a good idea for applicants to read through the contractor rules, laws and policies for the State of Washington.

For more information on the laws, please visit:

http://lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Rules/ByTrade/Contractor/default.asp

Filling Out the Registration Application

After applicants have applied for their UBI number, it is time to fill out the Application for Contractor Registration.  

To get a copy of the application, visit:

http://www.lni.wa.gov/Forms/pdf/F625-001-000.pdf

OR

Call the Department of Labor & Industries at: (360) 902-5226.

Carefully read and follow all the instructions on the application. Complete the form using blue or black ink.  The Department of Labor & Industries does not accept applications with items that are scratched out, altered or whited out.

Answer all questions truthfully.  Applications with falsified information result in fines up to $10,000.  Additionally, the Department will throw out and deny any application with false information.

Once the application is completely filled out, take it to the local Labor & Industries office to have it notarized.  The Department requires that the application contain the notarized signature of all owners and officers for the general contracting business.

Required Documentation- Bonds and Insurance

The State of Washington requires all general contractors to hold a surety bond or cash deposit, in addition to general liability insurance, at the time that they submit their registration application.

General contractors must purchase a surety bond from their insurance agent in the amount of $12,000.  The $12,000 is also accepted in the form of:

  • An assigned savings account or cash deposit
  • Certificate of deposit
  • Time deposit
  • Money market account from a credit union or savings and loan association in the State of Washington.

The Department of Labor & Industries requires applicants to show proof that they hold a bond, by submitting the original bond or assignment of account form along with their registration application.

Applicants are also required to submit proof of general liability insurance in the amount of $50,000, in the event of property damage, and $200,000 for public liability.  A combined policy of $250,000 is also acceptable.

The Department of Labor & Industries also requires applicants to submit an original copy of the general liability insurance policy along with their registration application.

Submitting the Application for Contractor Registration

Once all the pre-registration steps have been completed and the applicant has proof of bonds and insurance, they may submit their Application for Contractor Registration.

There is a registration fee of $113.40.

Acceptable forms of payment include:

  • Cash (when submitting the application in person)
  • Check or Money Order, made out to “Department of Labor & Industries.”
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover
*The application fee is refundable up until the time that the applicant receives their general contractor registration number.  Should the applicant change their mind and decide not to register, submit a written letter to the Department of Labor and Industries to request a refund.  $25 of the application fee will be withheld for refund processing.      

Double check the application to make sure it is filled out completely and all the required documentation is in order.  The Department keeps all the original documents, so be sure to make copies.  A complete registration application includes:

  • Completed and notarized Application for Contractor Registration
  • Proof of bond and general liability insurance
  • Application fee of $113.40

The Department of Labor & Industries will contact applicants for any missing information or documentation.

Applicants may submit their registration in person at their local Labor & Industries office.

Or by mail to:

Department of Labor & Industries
Contractor Registration Section
P.O. Box 44450
Olympia, WA 98504-4450

*When submitting the application in person, the customer service representative will provide the applicant with a temporary registration number.  

Receiving General Contractor Registration

Eligible applicants receive their general contractor’s registration within 2 to 4 weeks of submitting their application.

Registered general contractors receive a green wall certificate that indicates their licensure as a general contractor in the State of Washington.  The wall certificate includes the general contractor’s registration number.

If the contractor needs additional copies of the wall certificate, they may contact the Department at 1-800-647-0982.  The Department will create a duplicate for a fee of $12.60.

*The Department of Labor & Industries no longer sends wallet cards to registered general contractors.  

General contractors in the State of Washington are required to provide their registration number on all bids, proposals and estimates when contracting work. They also must include their registration number on their business cards or any ads that they post in the newspaper or Yellow Pages.

Registered general contractors are also required to provide their customers with a Model Disclosure Statement Notice for residential projects worth $1,000 or more and commercial projects between $1,000 and $60,000.  Customers must sign this notice as a way of acknowledging that the contractor is registered with the State of Washington.  For more information, go to:

http://lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Contractors/HowReg/default.asp#6

To remain actively registered, the general contractor must keep their bonds and insurances active and up to date.   Failure to keep bonds or insurance, or having unpaid infractions will lead to a suspended license.

Should the license registration be suspended, general contractors may reinstate their license by fulfilling the requirements and paying a reinstatement fee of $53.60.

How Long is a Washington General Contractor Registration Valid?

A Washington general contractor’s registration is good for 2 years.  Before the registration expires, the general contractor will receive a renewal card in the mail.  Be sure to renew the registration as soon as possible, to allow time for processing.

If the general contractor’s business has undergone any changes, prior to the renewal period, click on the link below and follow the directions for renewal that correspond to the appropriate change:

http://lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Contractors/HowReg/#3

If everything is the same, submit the renewal card, along with the renewal fee of $113.40 to the Department.  Renewals may be submitted in one of the following ways:

  • By Mail- along with check or money order made out to the “Department of Labor & Industries
  • In Person- at the local Labor & Industries office.  Visa and Mastercard payments are also accepted in person
  • Online- be sure to have the registration number, UBI number or Social Security Number when renewing online.

Table of Fees

Fee What is it For? When is it Due?
Approximately $180 Registering with the Washington Secretary of State Upon registering with the Secretary of State
$15-20 Businesses required to have a UBI number When licensing the business to obtain a UBI number
$113.40 Contractor Registration Application Fee Upon submitting the application
$113.40 General Contractor Registration Renewal Fee Every 2 years upon renewing registration
$53.60 Registration reinstatement Fee Upon reinstating the registration
$12.60 Duplicate Registration Certificate Upon requesting a copy of the wall certificate