How to Get Your Rhode Island Contractors License

A man who owns Rhode Island Contractors License working on a client’s house

You’re handy and you’ve always wanted to own a business. Being a RI contractor seems like a natural fit.

But how do you get started in the Ocean State? Do you need a Rhode Island contractors license? What about handymen? Fortunately, I’ve done the research for you. Take a look at this helpful guide, and you’ll be official before you know it.

Does Rhode Island Require a Contractor License?

Rhode Island is unique (but you probably already knew that). It’s one of the few states that doesn’t require a license. Instead, you need to register as a contractor.

According to the State of Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board, “anyone who is in the business of commercial construction, home construction, alterations, remodeling, or repair to residents to be registered with the State of Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board.”

The process is similar to getting a license, but less stringent. And, just like a license, it has many benefits for contractors:

  • It can help you land bigger projects that pay more. Anyone can do small, handyman work in Rhode Island, but not everyone is registered as a contractor. An official registration opens you up to more jobs with higher pay. Plain and simple, it’s good for your career.
  • It gives you credibility among RI homeowners. The state’s stamp of approval is nice to have. It makes you appear professional and trustworthy to customers.
  • It gives you a competitive edge. Anyone can do smaller “fix-it” projects, but not everyone gets registered. If you have credentials, including training and experience, you have a competitive edge over other similar contractors.
  • It helps protect your business. To register with the state, you need to prove you have business insurance, including general liability insurance.

This is a good thing. Business insurance protects you, your employees, and your business’s property if there’s an accident, injury, or loss. In the construction industry, anything can happen. You want to expect the best, but be prepared in the event of the worst.

Now you know the benefits, let’s talk about how to register as a contractor.

How do I Get a General Contractor’s License in Rhode Island?

If you’re a new contractor and have never registered in Rhode Island, the state requires you to take five hours of pre-education courses before you start the application. You can check out the list of approved classes here.

Then when you’re ready to register, you’ll need:

  • A completed registration form.
  • A signed statement form.
  • Proof of carrying at least $500,000 of liability insurance.
  • A $200 registration fee made by check or money order and payable to R.I.C.R.L.B.
  • Proof of registering your business with the Rhode Island Secretary of State if your company is a corporation or LLC.

You can get a business certificate with the Rhode Island Secretary of State by filling out an online form.

1. Get RI buiness insurance.

Before you fill out the application form, investigate getting business insurance. Rhode Island requires that you carry at least $500,000 in general liability insurance. This is a good thing—insurance will help protect you and your employees if there’s an accident or injury.

Let’s dive into that a little bit more.

Carrying a $500,000 policy doesn’t mean you have to pay that much. Instead, it just means your general liability policy limit, at a minimum, covers $500,000 or more of claims in a given year.

Most GL policies with a $500,000 (or even a $1 million) limit start at just $19.58 per month.* If you need to get insured so you can meet your licensing requirements, check out our free quote comparison tool. It takes just ten minutes to fill out, plus you’ll see quotes from the nation’s most trusted insurance providers.

If you have employees, consider buying workers’ compensation insurance too. It’s important to protect your team if they’re injured on the job. With the right plan, they can heal and get back to work sooner.

We have more information about business insurance in Rhode Island here.

Applying for a RI Contractor’s License?

You may need to show proof of business insurance to get your license.

That’s where we come in. Compare free insurance quotes for policies as low as $19.58/month.*

2. Check to see if you need additional contractor licenses.

While you may not need a Rhode Island contractors license for most work, if you’re an underground utility contractor, Rhode Island requires that you get an official license—not a registration.

First, you’ll need to fill out the pre-license application form. Then, you’ll receive a “pending” license number so you can obtain a bond for two years. In addition, you’ll need:

  • A completed and notarized application form.
  • A signed and notarized affidavit.
  • Proof of carrying at least $1,000,000 in liability insurance.
  • Proof of having a $20,000 bond for at least two years.
  • Proof that you’ve registered your business with the Rhode Island Secretary of State.
  • A $200 license fee and $10 photo ID fee.
  • An Agent of Service form (if you live out of state).

Before you know it, you’ll have your Rhode Island contractor’s license in your hands! You may also need a business license in Rhode Island. This article can help with that.

3. Submit your application.

You’ve proofread your licensing paperwork and you’re ready to send it in. Get a large mailer and address your packet to:

Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board 560 Jefferson Blvd, Suite 204 Warwick, RI 02886-1371

Does a Handyman Need a License in Rhode Island?

No. However, you will need to register your business, much the same way you would need to do if you were working as a contractor.

How do I Find Out if a Contractor is Licensed in RI?

Visit Rhode Island’s Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board online. Their search tool is easy way to check on the status of your registration or to find out if a particular contractor is registered.

Start Advertising Your Rhode Island Contractor License Status

Next up? Get ready to advertise your new registration status. Once you’re official in Rhode Island, you can promote it on your website, business cards, contracts, and other marketing materials. It’s attractive to homeowners.

You can also advertise your new business insurance plan. It’ll give homeowners peace of mind knowing you have insurance in case anything goes wrong. If you’re not happy with your plan now, it’s never too late to make a change. Get a quote and make sure you have the right insurance for your business.

Emily Thompson

I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.

Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.