Want to get your Illinois contractor license, but not sure where to start?
There’s a lot of information to sort through, especially online. Plus, every state handles licensing differently. So if you used to work in a neighboring state, you’ll need to follow a different process in Illinois.
Feeling confused? You’re not alone. It can be tough to sort through the forms and paperwork. To help, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide for getting your Illinois contractor license (with a special section for contractors in Chicago).
Getting a “stamp of approval” is good practice and the law. Most cities and counties in Illinois require contractors to carry licenses before they can do work, but it depends on where you live. If you’re unsure, check with your local municipal department first.
So you want to obey the law. But, there are a lot of other good reasons to get a license too. Here are a few:
You’ll score jobs that pay more. Chances are, you can handle smaller projects, like painting trims, installing appliances, and caulking bathrooms. But a license opens the doors to bigger, more complicated jobs… and higher pay.
You’ll appear credible and professional. Getting a license is a great way for new customers to find you. You’ll appear in online lists with other licensed contractors. And, your license will make you appear trustworthy, safe, and credible.
You’ll protect your business in big ways. What would you do if your equipment got damaged or if an employee got injured? Fortunately, most licenses require you to get business insurance, like general liability insurance and workers compensation. These plans protect you if there’s an unexpected loss, plus they can help prove to licensing boards that you have the necessary paperwork in place to get your contractor license.
Think getting a contractor’s license is a good idea? We do! Now, here are the steps you need to take to get one.
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 $25.95/month.*Start Here >
It’s not as overwhelming as you might think. For some licenses, you’ll go to the Illinois Department of Public Health. But, for the majority of contractor’s licenses, you’ll head to your local municipal department.
We’ll break it down for you.
Head over to the Illinois Department of Public Health if you’re a contractor who works with:
They can help you secure your license. For everyone else, start the licensing process by:
Then, you’ll go to your local department to get an Illinois contractor’s license there. We can’t break down the process for every city and county in Illinois. But, since it’s the biggest city in the state, we’ll talk about how licensing works in Chicago.
If you live and work in the Windy City, you can get your Illinois business license through the City of Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department. It’s a fairly simple process, but it does take some time.
Next, apply for your contractor’s license with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings. In your application, you need to include:
The City of Chicago Department of Buildings also offers additional licenses for contractors who manage electrical work, plumbing, masonry, cranes, and private alarms. If you have questions about what licenses you need, call 1-800-359-1313 or email [email protected].
Remember how we said that you may be required to carry business insurance in order to get your contractor license?
That's why we recommend getting your business insurance policy first before applying for your contractor license. Buying a top-notch insurance plan is one of the first steps toward becoming official, plus you'll have your Certificate of Insurance (COI) ready to go during your application process..
When it comes to insurance policies you should consider, we recommend general liability insurance and workers compensation (only if you have employees). General liability insurance and workers compensation can protect you, your employees, and your property, like vehicles and equipment, in the event of a loss or injury. Plus, it can make you appear professional and official in the eyes of your customers.
* Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January - December 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
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.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated reinsurance carrier by A.M. Best. Harborway Insurance is a trade name of Simply Business, Inc., which is a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.