Are you a general contractor or handyman in New Jersey who wants to get licensed? We’ll map it out for you.
The good news is it’s easier than you might think.
Simply put, it’s the law. When it comes to licensing, every state is a little different. New Jersey requires anyone who sells or makes home improvements to register before doing any work. If you don’t, you open yourself up to civil or even criminal penalties. And those penalties are pretty high.
Fortunately, there are many benefits to getting a license (in addition to obeying the law). A license:
As you can see, there are a ton of benefits to being official. Now, here’s how you can get your license quickly and easily.
It doesn’t matter if you’re full-time or part-time. If you get paid for doing any “home improvements,” you must be licensed. Check out the New Jersey Contractor Registration Act to learn more. It’s best to read the law on your own—but here’s a quick recap.
If you work as a business and do any of the following activities, you must get a license first:
This includes work on driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, terraces, patios, landscaping, fences, porches, windows, doors, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms, garages, basements, fire protection devices, security protection devices, heating and AC equipment, water softeners, heaters, purifiers, solar heating or water systems, insulation, siding, and carpeting and flooring.
Whew. That’s a lot. Your best bet?
Just get a license before doing any work. The only exception is a landscaper who only mows lawns and trims shrubs. If that’s your business, you don’t have to register with the state. But, if you plant flowers, shrubs, and trees, or lay sod or establish lawns — you must register first.
When in doubt, call the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-888-656-6225 to ask.
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To get your license, fill out the application first. With your application, you’ll need:
If you have a criminal record, you’re in default of a loan, or if you’re not a U.S. citizen, you might have to send in additional paperwork.
But overall, New Jersey is more lenient than other states during the licensing process. They don’t require you to provide proof of education or experience, or even letters of reference.
As you pursue your contractor’s license, getting business insurance is just one step along the way. But, it’s an incredibly important one. A high quality insurance plan, whether it’s worker’s compensation or general liability insurance, will help protect you, your employees, and your business if there’s an accident or loss of property. Plus, it adds a level of professionalism that complements your new license.
No. In New Jersey, it’s cut and dry. There’s just one license that you get through the state. This license and registration allow you to work on residential and commercial spaces throughout the state.
Once you have your application materials together, send them to:
State of New Jersey,
Division of Consumer Affairs,
Regulated Business Section,
Home Improvement Unit,
124 Halsey Street, 7th Floor,
P.O. Box 46016,
Newark, NJ 07101
And there you have it - your guide to getting a contractor license in New Jersey!
It may seem like an arduous process to get licensed, but don’t let that hold you back - your license is one of the most crucial tools you can get to protect the longevity of your business. Without it, you’re putting yourself - and your personal finances - at huge risk.
Got any questions or want to share your story? Tell us in the comments below!
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.
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