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How to Get a North Carolina Contractors License

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The North Carolina Board for General Contractors regulates the construction industry in the State of North Carolina.  Before a contractor is allowed to submit bid or work on any project worth $30,000 or more within the state, they must have a North Carolina contractors license.

The Board meets once a month throughout the year to review applications and decide who is eligible to hold a license.  All applications are due during the first week of every month, and are reviewed the following month, except during the month of December.  Once the application is accepted, the contractor must take and pass a qualifying exam to receive their license.

License Classifications

The State of North Carolina offers three different licensing classifications for general contractors:

  1. Limited License- limits contractors to working on projects under $500,000
  2. Intermediate License- limits contractors to working on projects under $1 million
  3. Unlimited License- there is no limit to the value of the project contractors may work on

Process to Obtain a General Contractor’s License in North Carolina

  1. Obtain a copy of the Application/Instruction Booklet
  2. Applicants must fill out the application completely and provide any supporting documents and fees requested by the Board.  (Please note that there are special instructions and specific documents requested depending on what type of business the contractor is planning to operate)
  3. Applicants must submit their license application, documents and fee to the Board’s office during the first week of the month
  4. Applicants must register and pay the fees to take the NASCLA Accredited Building Exam once the Board has received and approved their application
  5. Applicants must pass the licensing exam in order to receive their general contractor’s license from the Board

Preparing to Submit an Application

There are 3 ways to get a copy of the license application booklet:

  1. Download a copy online, free of charge- applications obtained online should be printed on clean white paper with black ink.  Click the link below for a copy of the application booklet:
    http://www.nclbgc.org/books/AppInstWeb.pdf
  2. Ask the Board to mail an application- send a personal check, cashier’s check or money order, for $15 made out to “NC Licensing Board for General Contractors.” Mail the check to:
    P.O. Box 17187
    Raleigh, NC 27619
  3. Pick up a copy of the application in person at the Board Office- go to the Board office and purchase an application for $13.  The office is open during weekdays from 8am to 5pm.  The office is located at:
    5400 Creedmoor Road
    Raleigh, NC 27612
*The Board does not accept cash or credit cards as a form of payment for applications picked up in person or sent by mail.  

It is highly important to look over the entire application booklet and read all the instructions.  There are special instructions and documents that applicants will need to prepare, depending on what type of general contracting business they plan to operate.  Everything must be complete for the Board to accept the application.  Incomplete applications are sent back to the applicant, which delays the licensing process.

Be sure to fill out the original copy of the application.  The Board does not accept photocopied applications.   Also be sure that the name the contractor is using to applying is the exact name of their business.  All signatures on the application and supporting documents must match exactly.

*It is also important to note that all information provided on the application is considered a matter of public record in the State of North Carolina.

In order for the application to be considered complete, the following documents are needed for the following business types:

  • Sole Proprietors– must obtain a Certificate of Assumed Name from the Register of Deeds in the county where they plan to operate their business.  A photocopy of this certificate must be submitted along with the application.
  • General and Limited Partnerships- must obtain a Certificate of Assumed Name from the Register of Deeds in the county where they plan to conduct business.  A photocopy of this certificate must be sent along with the application.  Partnerships are also responsible for registering their business with the NC Secretary of State and sending a copy of the General Partnership Agreement or the Certificate of Limited Partnership.
  • Domestic Corporations and LLCs- must obtain a Certificate of Assumed name from the Register of Deeds for the county where they plan to operate their business.  A photocopy of the certificate must be submitted with the application.  They must also register their business with the NC Secretary of State (SOS) and submit a copy of the Articles of Incorporation/Articles of Organization with the seal from the SOS.
  • Foreign Corporations and LLCs- must obtain a Certificate of Assumed name from the Register of Deeds in the county in which they plan to conduct business.  A copy of the certificate must be submitted along with the application.  They must also register their business with the NC Secretary of State (SOS) and submit a copy of the Certificate of Authority with the seal from the SOS.
*For more information about registering a partnership, LLC or corporation with the NC Secretary of State, call: 919-807-2225.  Or visit the SOS website at: http://www.secstate.state.nc.us/

All business types must also submit the following documents along with their application:

  • Financial Statement- demonstrating that the applicant is financially secure and responsible.  The financial statement is located on Page A6 of the application booklet.  The financial information submitted must be in reference to the business that is applying for a license.  The name on the financial statement must exactly match the signatures and name on the application, including punctuation.  Depending on which licensing classification the contractor is applying for, there is a specific amount of working capital the contractor must have:
LICENSE CERTIFICATION WORKING CAPITAL
Limited License Minimum of $17,000
Intermediate License Minimum of $75,00
Unlimited License Minimum of $150,00

*Working capital is determined by subtracting the contractor’s current liabilities from their current assets.

  • 3 Letters of Reference– from a source that has direct knowledge of the applicant’s work and experience.  Reference letters must come on a business letterhead and be from someone who is not directly related to the applicant.  Letters should not be older than 12 months at the time the contractor submits their application.  When the Board reviews the applicant’s letters of reference, they are looking for the following:
    • Evaluation of the applicant’s ability and skill
    • Evaluation of the applicant’s moral character
    • Evaluation of the applicant’s integrity
    • Evaluation of the applicant’s competency

It is important the all applicant pay special attention to the following questions and information requested on the application:

  • Tax Identification Number (TIN) – requested on page A8 of the application.  All business types must provide their TIN
  • General and Limited Partnerships- be sure to answer questions 18, 19, 20 and 21
  • Corporations- be sure to answer questions 15, 16, 17 and 21
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)- be sure to answer questions 15A, 16A, 17 and 21

Any business applying for a general contractor’s license may choose a qualifying individual to represent the company and take the exam.  This individual may be an owner, manager of full-time employee that works for the business.  In order for the exam scores to be properly transferred for the business, they must also complete and submit the Exam Transfer Authorization Form, located in the application.  More information about qualifying individuals is found in the application booklet.

Submitting an Application

Once the general contractor has completely filled out the application and gathered all the required documents, it is time to submit the application.  It is important to double- check the application and documents to make sure nothing is missing.  The Board does not accept incomplete applications.  All information on the application must be accurate and truthful otherwise the applicant will be subject to penalties and fines.

There is an application fee, which must be submitted along with the application, in the following amounts:

  • Limited License- $75
  • Intermediate License- $100
  • Unlimited License- $125

The Board does not accept cash.  Make checks payable to: “North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors.”

Applications are due during the first week of the month.  The Board meets every month to review application, except during the month of December.  The application will be reviewed the month after it was submitted.  For example, if the contractor submits their application during the first week of April, the application will be reviewed during the month of May.

The application and supporting documents should be placed into a 9 ½” x 12 ½” envelope.  Do not fold the application or documents. Applications may be submitted to the Board one of two ways:

  1. Mail the application, documents and fees via certified mail through the U.S. Postal Service to:
    North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors
    P.O. Box 17187
    Raleigh, NC 27619
  2. Send the application via a 24-hour courier or hand delivery service to:
    North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors
    5400 Creedmoor Road
    Raleigh, NC 27612

It is important to ask for a return receipt to be able to verify that the Board received the application.  Do not call the Board to verify that the application has been received, or to check on the status of an application.

Once the Board has reviewed the application and supporting documents and determined that everything is complete and that the applicant is eligible, they will mail the contractor a letter of eligibility.  They will also send a copy of the Candidate Information Bulletin which contains instructions and information about registering to take the NASCLA Accredited Building Exam.

*It is a good idea to make copies of the application and all supporting documents for your records before you submit the application

The Examination Process

Once the applicant receives their letter of eligibility from the Board and the Candidate Information Bulletin, it is time to register to take the NASCLA Accredited Building Exam.  All contractors are required to take the exam, unless the Board specifies otherwise.

The examination is administered by PSI Examination Services.  The Candidate Information Bulletin contains all the information contractors need to take exam, including instructions, a list of suggested study materials and the exam registration form.  To view a copy of the Candidate Information Bulletin, please visit:

https://candidate.psiexams.com/bulletin/display_bulletin.jsp?ro=yes&actionname=83&bulletinid=106&bulletinurl=.pdf

Be sure to fully prepare for the exam.  Contractors should gain copies of Building Codes, Trade Specifications and Published Standards for the State of North Carolina.  Many community colleges, tech schools and businesses in North Carolina offer exam prep courses.

There is a $70 non-refundable fee to take the exam.  PSI accepts payments in the form of :

  • Visa
  • Mastercard

OR  when registering by mail:

  • Money Order or Cashier’s Check made out to “PSI”

*PSI does not accept payments in the form of cash, personal checks or company checks.  

Choose ONE of the following ways to register for the exam:

  • Online- go to the PSI website and follow the link for new user registration:
    www.psiexams.com
  • By Phone- call PSI and use their automated system 24 hours a day.  Representative are standing by to assist callers during regular business hours:
    (800) 733-9267
  • Fax- when registering by fax, allow 4 business days for processing.  Fax the registration form and payment information to:
    (702) 932-2666.
  • By mail: allow approximately 2 weeks for processing when submitting the exam registration form by mail.  Complete the exam registration form from the Candidate Information Bulletin.  Mail the registration form and payment to:
    PSI Licensure: Certification
    3210 E Tropicana
    Las Vegas, NV 89121

It is the applicant’s responsibility to call PSI to schedule their exam once they have registered.   To schedule an exam, call PSI at:  (800) 733-9267

Testing Centers are located in the following cities:

  • Asheville
  • Charlotte
  • Greenville
  • Raleigh
  • Fayetteville
  • Wilmington
  • Winston-Salem

Examinees should arrive at least 30 minutes for before their scheduled test on the day of the exam to allow time for check-in.  They are also required to bring 2 forms of identification:

  1. A government issued photo id with the examinee’s signature; such as a driver’s license or passport.
  2. Another form of identification with the examinee’s name and signature; such as a credit card or debit card.

Contractors are required to have a minimum passing score of 70%.  Examinees are given their scores on the day of the exam before they leave the testing center.  If the contractor has passed the exam, PSI will notify the Board so they may issue the license.

All contractors have 2 attempts to pass the exam.  If they do not pass after the second attempt, they must file a new application, submit all the required documents and pay a new application fee.

How Long is a North Carolina Contractors License Valid?

General contractor’s licenses are good for one year in the State of North Carolina.  All licenses expire on December 31st of each year.  Each year, during the month of October, general contractors will receive a license renewal form.

It is important that contractors fill out and submit the license renewal form and fees as soon as they receive them to allow time for processing.  License renewal fees are in the following amounts:

  • Limited License- $75
  • Intermediate License- $100
  • Unlimited License- $125

If the contractor does not submit their renewal form and fee before their license expires on December 31st, they have until the end of January to submit their renewal without facing a penalty.  After January 31st, there is a $10 fee added to the renewal fee for every month that the contractor neglects to renew their license.

Table of Fees

FEE WHAT IS IT FOR? WHEN IS IT DUE?
$75 Limited License Application Fee Upon submitting the licensing application
$100 Intermediate License Application Fee Upon submitting the licensing application
$125 Unlimited License Application Fee Upon submitting the licensing application
$70 NASCLA Accredited Building Exam Registration Fee Upon registering for the examination with PSI
$75 Limited License Renewal Fee Once a year upon submitting the license renewal form
$100 Intermediate License Renewal Fee Once a year upon submitting the license renewal form
$125 Unlimited License Renewal Fee Once a year upon submitting the license renewal form

If a contractor already has a license in another state, North Carolina has a process for issuing reciprocal contractor licenses. A detailed breakdown of the reciprocity process is available here.

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