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How to Get a Virginia Contractor License

6-minute read

Virginia contractor wearing safety goggles and gloves using a sander
Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose

3 December 2019

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Ready to make things official with your contracting career and get your Virginia contractor license? You’ve come to the right place!

I’ve created this comprehensive guide that details everything you need to know about how to apply for your contractor’s license in Virginia. There are quite a few boxes to check, but I’ve got you covered each step of the way.

Let’s get started.

Here's How to Get Your Virginia Contractor License

1. Create a business entity.

Because contractor licenses are given to businesses, not individuals, you must create a business!

There are several types of businesses you can file for:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited liability companies (LLC)
  • Partnerships
  • Corporations

If you aren’t sure which one fits for your business, consult a CPA. Also, the Business One Stop is a super helpful resource that can provide you with additional information or answer any questions you might have.

If you're looking for more information on registering your business in Virginia, check out our Simply U guide!

2. Name your company and register the name.

If you’re filing your business as a sole proprietor, you can typically use the name you registered as the name of your business. Usually, a “trading as” name is used by business owners. You can choose whatever name you want, as long as you register that name the right way.

If you’re filing your company as a corporation or an LLC, you must register both your company and any associated names with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

Lastly, if you’re filing as a sole proprietor, you must register any “trading as” names with the local court where your company operates.

It’s important to note that though you can choose whatever name you like, it must not suggest that you do work that is not covered under your license.

For example, if your business name is Bob Inc. and you’ve applied to obtain an electrician license, you couldn't call it Bob’s Roofs, Inc. as your license would not cover the roofing classification.

Want more help? Check out our advice on how to name your business.

3. Expect the licensing process to take over a month.

Because the licensing process is run on a first-come, first-served basis, applications can take 30+ days to go through.

Of course, if you have all of your materials in, the process will go much quicker. If your application is incomplete, a letter will be sent to you in the mail that outlines what you still need to submit.

4. Determine the class of license you’ll need and your specialty.

In the state of Virginia, licenses are classified into A, B, and C. The class determines the monetary restrictions placed on the size of the contracts or projects.

Below is the class breakdown:

  • Class A: No monetary restrictions
  • Class B: All contracts or projects that are less than $120,000, with the total amount of all contracts or projects performed in twelve months remaining below $750,000
  • Class C: All contracts or projects that are less than $10,000, with the total amount of all contracts or projects performed in twelve months remaining below $150,000

The idea is to select the class for the amount of work you think you’ll take on because exceeding your class amount is a violation.

Once you’ve determined how much work you want to take on, then you decide what type of work you’re going to do. The classification and specialties of the contractor’s licenses correspond with the kind of work you can do.

To hold a specialty license, the Qualified Individual (QI) must meet all the requirements. In other words, your QI must have experience in that specialty and demonstrate that experience either through another individual license, certification, or exam.

We’ll talk more about QIs later on.

5. Identify your responsible management and qualified individuals.

Responsible management, or the individuals responsible for ensuring that all regulations and statutes are followed, must be selected as part of the application process.

Depending on how your company is registered will determine the number of people that must be identified. For example, sole proprietors only have to identify the person who owns the business.

The following information must be disclosed about the individuals:

  • Names
  • Birthdates
  • Social Security Numbers or Virginia DMV Control Number
  • Addresses
  • A copy of a government-issued photo ID

Next, you must identify your QIs (as I mentioned above) for each of the specialties you want on your license. The QI must be a bona fide full-time employee or one of the responsible management members.

Just like the responsible management members, all QIs must have experience in the specialty they will be linked to, which is determined by the class of license:

  • Class A QIs must have five years of experience in the specialty
  • Class B QIs must have three years of experience in the specialty
  • Class C QIs must have two years of experience in the specialty

For more details on QIs, visit the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

6. Get business insurance - including general liability coverage - and a contractor’s bond.

As a business owner, you want to protect every aspect of your business. Business insurance, liability insurance, and construction bonds ensure you’re prepared for the worst.

Additionally, depending on the licensing class you're applying for, the Virginia Licensure Board may require to see proof of insurance coverage before approving your application.

Let's dive in to what may be required of you, as well as what these types of insurance coverages may be:

Business insurance is the coverage a business owner can purchase to protect themselves from losses, liability, and other unforeseen events.

General liability insurance covers any costs that come with any third-party accidents, damage, or bodily injury. This is the one that may be requested from the licensing board, so it's a good idea to have this policy under your belt.

Good news there: Simply Business makes it incredibly easy to get the GL coverage you need to get your VA contractors license. Just answer a few easy questions with our free quote comparison tool to see GL policy options from the nation's top insurance providers.

And with GL policies starting at just $25.95/month, it's never been more affordable to protect your contracting business.

Applying for a VA 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 Here >

Construction bonds act like a safeguard if a project fails or if there is an issue that results in a cost to the customer. The company that issued the bond will cover the expenses, and then ask the party that took out the bond for reimbursement.

If you have more questions about contractor licensing, the process, or the requirements, leave a comment below! After you get your license, make sure you get your contractor’s insurance quote.

7. Determine your Designated Employee and take the exam.

It’s required that Class A and Class B contractors have a designated employee who has passed the exam. There is no designated employee for Class C licenses.

Both Class A and Class B designated employees should be members of responsible management or a full-time employee. All Class B designated employees must complete the General and Virginia portions of the examination, and the Class A designated employees must complete the general, Virginia, and the advanced parts of the test.

Just like identifying your responsible management, the following information must be submitted for each designated employee:

  • Names
  • Birthdates
  • Social Security Numbers or Virginia DMV Control Number
  • Addresses
  • A copy of a government-issued photo ID

For more information, visit the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

8. Complete the pre-license course.

No matter the class, you must have either a Responsible Management member or a designated employee—for Class A and Class B only, of course—complete a pre-license board-approved education course.

There are many board-approved courses that can be taken to meet this requirement. These courses are typically administered in a classroom, but some may be offered online or even via correspondence.

Though these courses are board-approved, the providers are allowed to set their own fees, schedules, and locations. So make sure you’re choosing the provider that works best for you.

9. Complete the application and send it to the board with the fee.

Lastly, make sure you send in your completed application with the corresponding fee. If your application is deemed incomplete, it will be delayed. On the flip side, some of the answers you provide may warrant additional responses or documentation, so be aware of that.

In terms of the application fee, every form lists the fee that must be submitted on the first page of the said form. Applications without the attached fee will be sent back—and you don’t want that!

It’s important to note that all fees are non-refundable. If you don’t meet any number of requirements for the contractor’s license, you will not be issued a refund. However, you may be able to receive a refund of your recovery fund assessment.

You're One Step Closer to Your Virginia Contractor License

Getting a contractor license is a big deal; after all, it unlocks a world of projects to you. Plus, having your contractor license may make all the difference between landing a great customer project and trying to find a job.

Plus, a contractor license can keep you protected from any state stings that may occur, as working as a contractor without a license may be illegal.

For that reason, it pays to put in the work to get your license. And by using this guide to getting your Virgina contractors license, you're already one step closer!

* 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.

Written by

Kat Ambrose

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

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