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The Guide to Getting Your Missouri Contractors License

6-minute read

Getting a contractor’s license in Missouri makes it possible for you to work on larger projects, like this contractor building a wall.
Emily Thompson

Emily Thompson

21 December 2021

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Have you been thinking about getting your contractor’s license? Whether you’re an electrician, plumber, or general contractor, we have the step-by-step guide to becoming official in Missouri.

Does MO require a contractors license?

If you’re just beginning to look into what’s required for a Missouri contractor license, it may seem that that’s not a question with a simple answer. No need to sweat it. As we like to say at Simply Business, we got you.

Best of all, we dug through all of the research out there so you don’t have to. From government sites to articles, we collected the data on what it takes to get a contractor’s license in Missouri so you don’t have to waste your time searching around for this crucial information.

Ready to get licensed?

Why Do I Need to Get My Missouri Contractors License?

We get it. Whether you’re just starting out your contracting business or you’ve been doing it for a few years, getting a contractor’s license in Missouri can feel like a pain in the you-know-what. It takes paperwork, paper checks, and lots of mailing to even get licensed.

So what’s the point of doing it all?

Well, here’s the biggest reason: Getting a license takes your career to the next level — and makes you official as a contractor, handyman, electrician, home improvement renovator, or whatever else your business might be.

Do You Need a License To Be a General Contractor in Missouri?

A Missouri contractors license is required to work in many locations, but it’s also a way you can earn more. Lots of customers may not work with you if you don’t have a contractor’s license, and we can’t exactly blame them.

After all, without a license, you could be leaving yourself - and your customer - in legal hot water. In fact, in many states, it's illegal to operate as a contractor or handyman without a license.

Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to pursue licensure once you know the steps. And, there are a lot of good reasons to do so. Getting a license:

  • Allows you to work on bigger jobs and earn more.
  • Builds credibility with customers. Even for smaller jobs, people want to hire contractors with a stamp of approval.
  • Markets your business. You’ll appear in public lists of licensed contractors.
  • Gives you a competitive edge over other contractors.
  • Protects your business by requiring you to carry general liability and business insurance.

Sound like a good idea? We think so, too. Now here’s how to get started.

Does a Handyman Need a License in Missouri?

Much like with a Missouri contractor license, there is no state-wide requirement to be licensed if you’re working as a handyman. But don’t grab your toolbelt just yet. Handymen, like contractors, have to meet certain local licensing and registration requirements.

These can be at the county or city level, so it’s best to check with the appropriate agencies where you plan to do work.

There are limits on the kind of work you can do as a handyman in Missouri. In general, you’re legally allowed to perform maintenance, minor jobs like installing trim, power washing and deck staining, trash hauling, touch-up painting, minor dry rot repairs, and furniture and cabinet assembly.

You May Need Business Insurance to Get Your Contractor License

With contractor license requirements that can vary across the Show Me state, it’s easy to feel like you’ve got your hands full just trying to understand what's needed. So we understand that trying to make sense of different types of business insurance on top of all that can be a bit overwhelming.

Not to worry. We can take a lot of that work off of your plate. We help insure small business owners like you all over the U.S. Different requirements, different policies, different coverage amounts. We can make sense of it for you. Often in just 10 minutes, online or on the phone.

We work with the nation’s top insurers, so we can shop for policies that have the coverage you need while fitting within your budget. We show you the coverages and quotes. You pick the one that works best for you. And just like that, your business is insured.

We also make sure you understand exactly what you’re paying for and what it protects. Here’s a brief overview of some of the coverages available for your contractor business:

General liability - This is the workhorse of business insurance policies. General liability (GL) covers costs from third-party accidents, property damage, and bodily injury. That can include:

  • Bodily injury
  • Third-party property damage
  • Personal and advertising injury
  • Claims arising from product defects
  • Medical expenses
  • And more

When you consider that the average claim for property damage or customer injury is a staggering $30,000, not having coverage could mean you might have to pay right out of your own pocket.

Workers compensation insurance - The state of Missouri requires business owners to carry workers compensation insurance if they have five or more employees. The requirements are more stringent in the construction business where you must have a workers comp policy if you have one or more employees.

If an employee gets sick or injured while working for you, workers compensation could financially cover those resulting claims, up to the limits of your policy.

Inland marine insurance - This coverage can help financially protect the tools and equipment you use while in transport or on a job site.

Inland marine coverage can financially protect your business from occurrences like:

  • Damage to business property
  • Loss of business property
  • Theft of business property
  • And more

Having the right tools can make all the difference between a job running smoothly and efficiently and one that runs past the completion date and (very often) over-budget as well.

Whether it’s through theft, damage, or loss, if you find yourself without your tools, you’re looking at a hefty price tag to replace them. But also consider this: if you don’t have your tools, you likely can’t work on current jobs or bid on new ones. And that could cost you even more.

Inland marine insurance also can cover someone else's property that gets damaged or stolen. So if you’re renting or leasing tools, your insurance may cover repairs and replacements, up to the policy’s limit.

Still have questions? Give one of our licensed small business insurance pros a call at 844-654-7272. They’re here to help Monday through Friday, 8am to 8 pm (ET).

Applying for a MO 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 $19.58/month.*

Start Here >

Next up? It’s time to fill out the paperwork.

How Do You Get a Contractors License in MO?

If you live in Missouri, you can get your license in your local city or county. There isn’t one statewide license, so it’s a process that’s defined at the local level. That means the process is different in Kansas City than it is in St. Louis, so it may involve doing some follow up with your town or city hall to make sure you’ve got the right license.

General requirements for licensure.

While there are local requirements when it comes to getting a Missouri contractor license, there are some state-wide requirements you should be aware of as well.

State of Missouri Business License and Registration

Your contractor business will be required to register through the Missouri Secretary of State. They have a Starting a Business section on their website that provides information on how to do it.

Along with helpful posts on topics such as naming your business, there is also a step-by-step guide for registering and access to a variety of downloadable forms.

Missouri Tax Identification Number Application

There are a number of taxes that you may need to collect or be subject to in Missouri, so you may have to register for one or more tax-specific identification numbers, licenses or permits These can include income tax withholding, sales and use tax (seller’s permit), and unemployment insurance tax.

The Missouri Department of Revenue can provide more information and help you with business registration and understanding your tax obligations.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If you have employees working for you, either full-time or part-time, you’ll need to have workers compensation insurance in Missouri. Depending on what county you’re operating in, you also may need some sort of contractor bond.

It’s best to check with the local government agencies in the areas in which you’ll be working.

You may also need to get a Missouri business license.

Do you need additional contractor’s licenses?

Yes — in Missouri your license is granted in your local city or state. To help, we’ve outlined how it works in two of Missouri’s largest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Kansas City

You can apply for a license at the City Planning & Development department. First, read about the different license categories and decide which one you want to apply for. Options include:

  • Demolition contractor class I
  • Demolition contractor class II
  • Electrical contractor class I
  • Electrical contractor class II
  • Electrical contractor class III
  • Elevator contractor class I
  • Elevator contractor class II
  • Fire protection contractor class I
  • Fire protection contractor class II
  • Fire protection contractor class III
  • Gas-fired appliance contractor
  • Heating and ventilating contractor
  • Pipe fitting contractor
  • Plumbing contractor
  • Refrigeration contractor
  • Residential building contractor
  • Sign contractor

Next, in order to qualify for a license, you need:

  • A completed and notarized application form.
  • Proof that you’re at least 21 years old.
  • A high school diploma or GED.
  • Information about your skills and experience.
  • Exam results from a recognized examination agency.
  • A certificate showing you have general liability coverage with a minimum of $1,000,000 per occurrence.
  • A cash deposit (depending on which license you’re applying for).
  • A $55 nonrefundable application fee.

Send all of your application materials to:

City Planning & Development – Development Services Contractor Licensing Branch, City Hall #503 414 East 12th Street, 5th Floor Kansas City, Missouri 64106

After getting your first license, you can pay $167 every four years for its renewal.

St. Louis

If you're a contractor or subcontractor looking to ply your trade in the Gateway to the West you’ll need to have a Graduated Business License.

To get your Graduated Business License in St. Louis, you need to:

  • Get a state sales tax number through the Missouri Department of Revenue.
  • Provide proof of having workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Obtain clearance from the Collector of Revenue’s Office.
  • Get an Occupancy Permit from the Building Division.
  • Pay an application fee ($100 to $200 depending on what time of year you apply).

Getting Licensed Doesn't Have to Be a Hassle

At first glance, applying for a license and purchasing business insurance might seem tedious. After all, there’s a lot of paperwork involved in getting your contractor license.

But, the benefits greatly outweigh any hassles. With a Missouri contractor’s license, you can grow your business, take on bigger jobs, and earn more in the long run.

Plus, whether you’re remodelling a kitchen in Kansas City or framing a townhouse in St. Louis, we can make it a whole lot easier to make sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage.

It’s worth the time it takes to make yourself official with a license!

*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 - March 2023 data of 10% of our total policies sold.

Emily Thompson

Written by

Emily Thompson

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.

Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.

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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