Frequently Asked Questions: Contractor Registration

Q: When do I need to register as a contractor in Washington?

You must register if you do, or offer to do, or submit a bid to do any of the following types of work for someone else:

  • Construct, remodel, alter or repair.
  • Develop residential property.
  • "Flip" homes.
  • Move, wreck or demolish.

This doesn’t just apply to construction projects; it also applies to related work, such as painting or floor coverings.

Q: Do I need to take any special classes or tests before I register?
No coursework or tests are required to register as a general or specialty contractor.

Q: Could I be penalized for contracting without a contractor's registration?
Yes. Labor & Industries is required to levy a minimum penalty of $1,000 for a first offense, and the job you are working on could be shut down.

Q: Can my spouse or child take over my business and registration?
Your spouse may. If your child takes over the business, the business is considered a new one and your child must apply for a new registration.

Q: When and why would I need to re-register?
Any time the structure of the business, the type of work performed or ownership changes, a contractor is required to re-register with Labor & Industries.

Q: When and how do I renew my registration?
The registration is valid for two years after you register or renew, whichever comes first. You can renew your registration online (Go to Registering as a Contractor.) or by going to your local L&I field office to do it.

Q: My company is very small. Why do I need the same bond amount as a large company?
The $12,000 bond amount applies to all general contractors and the $6,000 bond amount applies to all specialty contractors, regardless of the size of the business. The type of work is the same.

Q: What happens if my bond or insurance expires or is canceled by the company?
If this happens, your insurance and/or bond company will notify L&I, and we will suspend your registration. When you deliver your insurance documents and pay the reinstatement fee to L&I, we will re-instate your registration.

Q: Why do I have to provide my Social Security number and government issued identification?
The law denies registration to individuals who have previously been registered that owe money to consumers or the state. ID numbers confirm eligibility for registration.

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