Jonathan P. Cohen, P.A.
Call (954) 462-8850
Jonathan P. Cohen, P.A.
Call (954) 462-8850

500 East Broward Blvd., Suite 1710
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33394
Phone: (954) 462-8850
Fax: (954) 848-2987
info@jcohenpa.com

How to Get a Contractor’s License in Florida

Contractor's License in Florida

Help with a Contractor’s License in Florida

To work as a contractor in Florida, you must first obtain a contractor’s license. The requirements for securing a contractor’s license in the state are outlined by the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) and the Florida Statutes. The requirements vary based on the type of license you need and are stringent. If you perform work as a contractor in Florida without obtaining a license, you might face civil and criminal charges for unlicensed contracting. This is a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a potential punishment of up to 12 months in jail, a fine of $1,000, and 12 months of probation. Ensuring you have the appropriate license before beginning your work is critical. Here is some information from Florida construction lawyer Jonathan P. Cohen, Esq. about getting a contractor’s license in Florida.

Defining a Contractor

A contractor is defined in § 489.105(3), Fla. Stat. (2022) as someone who builds, alters, remodels, repairs, demolishes, adds to or subtracts from, or makes improvements to a structure or building in exchange for payment. The definition also encompasses someone who makes other, related improvements to real property.

The statute goes on to list the following types of contractors in Florida who must be licensed:

  • General contractors
  • Building contractors
  • Residential contractors
  • Sheet metal contractors
  • Roofing contractors
  • Class A and Class B air condition contractors
  • Mechanical contractors
  • Commercial pool and spa contractors
  • Residential pool and spa contractors
  • Plumbing contractors
  • Excavation and underground utility contractors
  • Solar contractors
  • Pollutant storage system contractors
  • Specialty contractors

The various types of contractors are categorized under Division I or Division II. General contractors, building contractors, and residential contractors are categorized as Division I contractors, while the rest are categorized as Division II contractors. There are a multitude of specialty licensing at the county level.

The Process of Obtaining a Contractor’s License in Florida

Before you apply for a contractor’s license, you will first need to determine whether you want to become a certified contractor or a registered contractor based on where you plan to perform work. Registered and certified contractors have slightly different requirements.

Requirements for Getting a Certified Contractor’s License

Certified contractors are allowed to work anywhere in Florida and do not have to meet a local government’s competency requirements. Under § 489.105(8), Fla. Stat. (2022), you must meet the following requirements to obtain a certified contractor’s license in Florida:

  • Other than for swimming pool specialty contractors, take and pass the Florida State Construction Examination
  • Have a minimum of four years of experience, a combination of experience and college, or experience gained in the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Submit a credit report showing financial responsibility and stability
  • Pass a fingerprint-based background check
  • Submit certificates showing you have workers’ compensation, property damage, and public liability insurance coverage
  • Be a minimum of 18 years old
  • Pay the fee
  • Complete the application for the type of contractor’s license you want

Requirements for a Registered Contractor’s License

If you want to become a registered contractor, you will need a certificate of competency issued by your local government and register the certificate with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR). As a registered contractor, you will only be allowed to work in the counties or cities that have issued a certificate of competency to you per § 489.105(10), Fla. Stat. (2022).

To become a registered contractor in Florida, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Obtain a certificate of competency from a local government and file it with the DBPR
  • Submit a credit report showing financial responsibility and stability
  • Pass a fingerprint-based background check
  • Submit certificates of worker’s compensation, property damage, and public liability insurance coverage
  • Pay the fee
  • Be at least 18
  • Complete the application

To get a certificate of competency, you will need to contact your local government to find out the requirements and make sure you comply with them.

Penalties for Unlicensed Contracting in Florida

Under § 489.113(2), Fla. Stat. (2022), contractors must be registered or certified to engage in contracting work in Florida. Under § 489.13(1), Fla. Stat. (2022), if you perform contracting work in Florida without a license, you can be found guilty of unlicensed contracting.

If you are found guilty of unlicensed contracting, it is a first-degree misdemeanor carrying the potential of up to 12 months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and 12 months of probation. Any contract you have entered can be found to be unenforceable so you wouldn’t have a right to receive payment for our work. In addition, under § 768.0425, Fla. Stat. (2022), a customer that was harmed by your unlicensed work might recover three times the damages you caused plus attorney’s fees and costs.

Get Help From a Florida Construction Lawyer

While the process of getting a contractor’s license is time-consuming and difficult, the potential consequences of performing unlicensed work in Florida make it important for you to comply with the law. If you have questions or need help with the process, contact Florida construction lawyer Jonathan P. Cohen, Esq. at (954) 758-8862.

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The content in this article is presented for general informational purposes only.