Do you want to become a licensed contractor, handyman, or home renovator in Tennessee, but you’re not exactly sure how to get started?
There’s a lot of information out there on how to apply for your contractor’s license in Tennessee. Where do you start? How much is the application fee? What information do you need to submit to complete your application?
I cover all that and more in this step-by-step guide on everything you need to know about getting your contractor’s license in Tennessee. Follow this guide, and you’ll be a licensed contractor in no time.
Home improvement contractor, prime contractor, construction management—what’s the difference between each contractor’s license? Before we jump into the nitty-gritty details of the application process, let’s define what each license covers. That way, when you go to apply, you know exactly what license to pursue.
There are two categories of Tennessee contractor’s licenses:
Projects that are under $25,000
Projects that are over $25,000
Depending on the nature of the projects you plan to take on, you may need to apply for an additional license. For more information about the license classifications, check out this resource from the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors.
Home Improvement Contractor: If you want to take on projects like repairs, improvements, or additions for remodeling projects, this license is for you. Keep in mind this license doesn’t allow you to take on plumbing, electrical, or HVAC projects.
Limited Licensed Electrical (LLE): This license is for electrical projects that do not require an inspection.
Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP): Similar to the LLE, this license is for plumbing projects that do not require an inspection.
Prime/General Contractor: If you plan on working with the direct point of contact for the project that falls within the definition of contracting in Tennessee, this is the license you’ll want to look into.
Subcontractor: If you plan on working directly with the prime or general contractor, who is not the owner of the project, doing jobs like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and roofing, this license is for you.
Construction Management: No matter what, this license is needed for any project valued at $25,000 or more.
Also, it’s important to note that no matter the type of contractor you are, you must indicate the type of work you want to do. You must apply for a license if your work falls under one of the categories:
Now that you know what the different licenses are, let’s take a look at the requirements are and how to apply.
Regardless of the type of license you want to apply for, you must take and pass the Tennessee Business and Law exam. And depending on your trade, you likely will have to apply for an additional license.
The tests are issued through PSI Testing along with other administrative things like scheduling, registration, testing locations, and more. Each exam has a $55 fee.
Tennessee law requires that all contractor’s license applicants prepare an Audited or Reviewed financial statement through a licensed independent accounting firm.
Reviewed Financial Statements are required for monetary limits of $1,500,000, and Audited Financial Statements are required for monetary limits that exceed $1,500,000. For more information on financial statements, visit the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance website.
The next step in the application process is to submit a letter of reference. The letter must be from a past client or employer who has direct experience working with you. Or, you could also submit a letter from a code official who has inspected your work.
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 >
Nothing says “official” like registering your business with the Secretary of State!
All LLCs, partnerships, and corporations must register their business through the Tennessee Secretary of State. What’s more, all businesses that operate in the state of Tennessee must register for their tax identification numbers as well.
Now it’s time to fill out the application and submit the fee. Make sure you fill out the application completely, and if there are sections you don’t feel apply, provide a detailed explanation.
You’ll be asked to provide information such as:
Once you’ve completed the entire application, submit the nonrefundable $250 fee to:
Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors
500 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243-1150
Once you submit your application, it typically takes roughly three weeks to process. You’ll be notified by email, mail, or fax if an interview is required or if they need extra information.
All licenses are issued for two years. Notices of renewals are mailed 90 days before your license expiration date and are required to be renewed 30 days before the license actually expires. Also, there’s a $200 renewal fee, so don’t forget to submit that as well!
There are two ways you can renew your license:
Online: You must create an account and will need to provide your Indv/Org number, license identification number, email address, and zip code, so make sure you have that on hand.
Mail: You can also fill out a paper application and send it to: Board for Licensing Contractors, 500 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville, TN 37243
You can contact the Tennessee Secretary of State at (615) 741-2286 or check out their website for more information or if you have any questions.
Do you have questions about contractor’s insurance in Tennessee? Our team can help you figure out precisely what you need to ensure you’re up to code. You can also check out our helpful guide on How to Start a Handyman Business.
* 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’m a writer who specializes in creating value-packed blog content for eCommerce and SaaS companies and small businesses. When I'm not writing, I’m probably out running, checking out a thriller novel—or two—from the library, or trying to pet the nearest dog.
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.