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How to Get A General Contractor License in Florida

If you want to become a general contractor in Florida, you need more than just the skills and a simple business plan example. You also need a license to work legally in the state.

You can obtain a general contractor’s license (GC license) to work throughout the state or in specific local jurisdictions. Both licenses are handled by the Florida Construction Licensing Board. This Board falls under the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

Both these agencies establish the requirements for obtaining a general contractor's license. You'll have to adhere to them to get your license in Florida.

So what are the requirements? Well, this general contractor license Florida guide should be able to help. We'll discuss the Florida contractor’s license requirements and more in this article.

What is a general contractor license?

Contracting projects need a certain amount of experience, coordination, and planning. Federal, state, and local governments have building codes and regulations in place. Contractors need to abide by these codes and regulations. This ensures safety during construction projects or renovation projects.

Each state and some cities have specific licensing requirements. This allows general contractors to demonstrate competency in this highly risky trade.

A Florida contractor’s license permits contractors to do some construction work. It either allows contractors to work throughout the state or in a local jurisdiction. The license is proof that the contractor has met all requirements and can do the job. However, there are some limitations to the work general contractors can do.

What can a general contractor do?

The Florida Legislature governs the construction industry in Florida. It protects public health and safety. The Legislature regulates the industry and the requirements needed for a contractor's license.

Florida's construction licensing covers the work general contractors can do, andincludes restrictions on the type of work as well.

A contractor with this license can perform general contracting work such as but not limited to:

  • Building, repairing, or remodeling any type of building, regardless of size or number of stories

  • Constructing or altering the structural components of a building or structure

  • Remodeling both commercial and residential properties

  • Improving any type of building or structure

Florida Contractor License Requirements

Each contractor specialty has different requirements. Some may have more requirements than others for the license application. We'll get into the specifics in the next section of this article. However, here are some of the basic requirements for applicants:

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Submit a credit score report with a credit score of 660 or higher. They can purchase a surety bond if their score is lower.

  • Undergo a background check, which includes fingerprinting. Read more about the fingerprinting process by reading the state's Fingerprint FAQ page.

  • Provide proof of securing general liability and property damage insurance. These need to be in the amounts determined by the Board rule.

  • Obtain workers' compensation insurance or get an exemption within 30 days of receiving your license. The state provides a list of credit reporting agencies for applicants to consult.

  • Take and pass the Florida State Construction Examination

  • Complete the contractor license application

  • Pay the contractor application and licensing fees

Steps to get a Florida general contractor license

The Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board offers two types of general contractor licenses. These include a certified license and a registered license. Let's take a look at what they are and how to obtain them.

Certified General Contractor License

Certified general contractors' licenses allow for work throughout the state of Florida. You can apply for this license as an individual contractor or as a qualified business.

All applicants for this license need to take the Florida state certification examination. Only those who pass advance to the next stage of the licensing process.

To apply for a certified Florida contractor license:

  1. Download and complete the application to take the Florida State Construction Examination
  2. Take and pass the exam
  3. Download and complete the Florida contractor license application packet for an individual or qualified business
  4. You'll need to gather some additional documents such as:
  5. A FICO-derived credit score report to provide proof proof of financial stability and responsibility.
  6. Proof of education or experience. All applicants need to possess four years of experience or a combination of college and experience.

Additional Requirements

  • 18 years and over
  • Background check and analog or electronic fingerprint
  • Provide proof of obtained public liability/general liability insurance and property damage insurance
  • Secure workers' compensation insurance

After completing the application, gather up your supporting documents and licensing fees. The next step is to mail it all to:

State of Florida

Department of Business and Professional Regulation

1940 North Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0783

Registered General Contractor License

A registered general contractor license allows for work within a specific local jurisdiction. The contractor also needs a Certificate of Competency from that jurisdiction.

You can apply for this license as an individual contractor or as a qualified business. If you're applying as an individual contractor, you'll have two options. The first is to take and pass the Florida State Construction Examination. The second is to possess a Certificate of Competency from a local licensing office. The certificate should bear your name and your business.

Here are the steps to apply for a registered contractor license in Florida:

  1. Download and complete the Florida State Construction Examination application. Those who have a Certificate of Competency don't have to do this step.

  2. If you pass the exam, download and complete the full application packet. If you have a Certificate of Competency, download and complete the full application packet. Choose the correct application packet (individual contractor or a qualifying business).

  3. Gather up these additional documents:

  • A credit report with a FICO-approved credit score. This shows financial stability and responsibility.

  • A copy of the Certificate of Competency issued by the local building authority in the jurisdiction you wish to work. You only need this if you don’t want to take the written exam.

Additional Requirements:

  • 18 years and over
  • Background check and fingerprint
  • Provide proof of obtained public liability/general liability insurance and property damage insurance
  • Secure workers' compensation insurance

Take your completed application, additional documents, and application fee and mail them to:

State of Florida

Department of Business and Professional Regulation

1940 North Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0783

How to become a general contractor in Florida FAQs

What are the Florida contractor license types?

The Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board offers two different general contractor licenses. The first is the certified general contractor license. The other is a registered general contractor license.

The certified license allows you to work throughout the entire state of Florida. The registered license allows you to perform work in a specific local jurisdiction.

What is the easiest contractors’ license to get in Florida?

The easiest contractor's license you can get is the Florida Residential Contractor License. This is because the exams have fewer questions. However, it follows the same process as the General and Building contractor license.

What should I expect from the Florida general contractor exam?

A certified contractor license requires applicants to pass the Florida State Construction Exam. This exam is administered through Professional Testing, Inc.

Before you even start the application process, you need to take and pass this exam. To make exam prep easier, here's what to expect.

The exam consists of three parts:

  1. Project Management

  2. Contract Administration

  3. Business and Finance

The first and second parts are paper and pencil tests that can be taken in Tallahassee, Orlando, or Miami. The exams are scheduled every other month. This means you can do it in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

The third part of the exam can be done on a computer at a scheduled time.

How long does it take to become a general contractor in Florida?

Florida contractors need to take and pass the exam unless they have a Certificate of Competency. After this, they'll need to submit their application with all relevant documents. Once submitted, the application will be reviewed by the Florida State Licensing Board.

Applications are reviewed in the order they arrive, so this can affect waiting times. However, applicants can expect a response within 30-45 business days.

Florida statutes state that both Certified and Registered Licenses in Florida need to be renewed every two years. Applicants need to submit their applications to be reviewed and renewed before the old licenses expire.

Moreover, those applying for a certified license need to renew their licenses before August 31 of every even-numbered year (e.g., 2022). The others who apply for a registered license must do so before August 31 of every odd-numbered year (e.g., 2023).

Conclusion

Obtaining a general contractor license may seem like a long process. However, several resources can help make the application process easier.

You can enroll in a contractor license school. They will walk you through the entire process and may even apply for you. You can also reach out to Florida's contractor license board if you wish.

You can obtain your general contractor license without any hassle. Just ensure you meet the requirements and follow the correct steps when applying. Doing so can help you get your general contractor license in no time, so you get back to doing what you love: hitting the Pro desk at Home Depot.