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How to Get a Contractor’s License in Idaho

5-minute read

Stephanie Knapp

Stephanie Knapp

19 November 2019

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Do you want to become a licensed contractor, handyman, or home renovator in Idaho - but not exactly sure how to get started?

Don’t worry. We’re here to simplify the process. We’ve poured over all of the legal ramblings and fine print from the State of Idaho, and sorted it out in this easy-to-understand guide.

Making sure you remain on the right side of the law when starting a new business can be intimidating at first, but we’ve got the step-by-step process to get your legal ducks in a row so that you can get on doing what you do best.

Why Do I Need an Idaho Contractor License?

Disclosures, licenses, insurance, registrations - what does it all mean? Let’s break down a few words to know before we get started.

Licensure laws require contractors to meet experience, education, or examination requirements before they can set up shop. Luckily, Idaho doesn’t have a “license law” for general contractors, so you don't need to take an exam to start your business. However, licenses are required for certain specialties, such as plumbing or HVAC.

Registration laws are created to ensure that both contractors and customers have protection under the law. Construction contractors in Idaho are required to register, which is simply a formal way of letting the state know you’re working as a contractor, and ensuring that you have insurance.

Business insurance protects your business in the chance that something goes awry. Idaho requires contractors to have insurance, but we’ll get into those details later.

Now that we’ve had a crash course in legal business terms, let's take a moment to understand why you need an Idaho contractor’s license. No, the registration requirements aren’t set up just to make you jump through hoops. Holding all contractors in the state to the same standards benefits everyone.

By requiring contractor registration and removing fraudulent contractors from the talent pool in Idaho:

  • Customers can hire trustworthy contractors that have general liability insurance
  • Contractors gain legal entitlements such as lien rights (or the right to file for liens in the case of nonpayment)
  • The contractor industry as a whole builds a better reputation, increasing the likelihood for homeowners to search for contractors in the first place

On top of the benefits of having a general contractor's license in Idaho, there are very real consequences to skipping registration. First, a contractor operating without registration loses lien rights and contract rights. You're helpless if a customer doesn't pay you for work done if you don't have those contractor rights.

Plus, if you don't acquire business insurance, you and your business could be sued and required to pay out of pocket. Even if you had a spare \$30,000 in your business account to cover damages, we’d wager you’d rather keep that money for yourself.

Applying for an ID 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 $25.95/month.*

Start My Quote

Finally, the state of Idaho could charge you with a misdemeanor criminal offense if you don't register your contracting business.

Getting a General Contractor License in Idaho: What You Need to Know

You know your state registration lingo, and you understand the benefits of the process. Now let’s get items checked off your to-do list! Let’s review the steps in the application and registration process for general contractors and handymen in Idaho.

There are a few exemptions

General contractors in Idaho who will work on construction projects valued at at least $2,000 are required to register their business. That means that someone making a small change to their own home doesn’t need to register. It also means that an employee who earns a salary doesn’t need to register themselves. If, however, you plan on offering construction services such as installing cabinets, excavating land, or expanding someone’s house, you’ll need to register as a general contractor.

Specialty contractors need to be licensed

Earlier I mentioned that certain types of contractors need to be licensed; what’s up with that? If you work on specialty projects such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, or architecture, then the state of Idaho wants to make sure you meet education and knowledge requirements.

Required exams vary by trade, and you can explore specialties here. While you’ll need to pass an exam to be licensed in Idaho, you don’t need to register your business. Some of these trade licenses still require general liability insurance, along with continued education, renewal fees, and bonds.

Here’s what you need to apply

The heart of the registration process is an application. Still, there are a few pieces of information you’ll need to get started.

Your SSN or EIN. You’ll need a valid Social Security number for an individual or an employer tax identification number for a business.

Partner names and addresses. If you’re a sole proprietor, you only need to submit your name and address. However, if your company has multiple partners or shareholders, they need to be listed as well.

Workers’ compensation insurance. If you have an employee (or will in the future), you need worker’s compensation insurance. If you don’t have an employee, you’ll have to submit an explanation of why you don’t need this insurance.

General liability insurance. Whether you have employees or not, you have to have general liability insurance to register as a contractor in Idaho. This insurance needs to cover your construction operations for at least $300,000.

Statement of type of construction. Your application will also need a statement from you about the contracting you plan on doing.

Explanation of past revoked license or registration. If any of your company’s partners have had a contractor’s license or registration revoked or denied in any state, the state of Idaho wants to know. If this applies to you, you’ll need to submit an explanation.

Submit your application and fee

Once you’ve gathered your certificates of insurance, partner information, and statements, it’s time to fill out the Idaho contractor license application. The application is available for download online, but you’ll need to print it out to submit it. Your application signature also has to be notarized. Finally, you’ll include an application fee for both an individual or a small business of $35.

Send all of your forms and fee to:

Bureau of Occupational Licenses
700 WEST STATE STREET, PO Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0063

Once approved, you need to display your registration

The Idaho Contractors Board will review your application. Once you’re approved, you need to display your registration. Your registration number needs to appear on your:

  • Place of business
  • Jobsite
  • Advertising materials
  • Contracts
  • Building permits
  • Letterheads
  • Purchase orders
  • Subcontracts

There are no additional fees immediately after being approved, but you will need to renew your registration annually. Luckily, the state will send you a head’s up about six weeks before your year is up, and you can pay the $35 and submit a renewal application online.

Got more questions about getting your Idaho contractor’s license? Find answers at the official Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses website.

If you still need to get general liability and worker’s comp insurance before you can apply, get a contractors insurance quote to ensure you’re covered.

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 Q1 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.

Stephanie Knapp

Written by

Stephanie Knapp

I'm a freelance writer who has always had an interest in entrepreneurship, starting way back with lemonade stands. These days I write to help business owners with their everyday challenges and choices. When I'm not typing away, you'll find me eating pizza, volunteering at the animal shelter, or taking too many pictures of my cats.

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