Washington State requires all construction contractors to register with L&I. State law also requires construction contractors to be bonded and insured to protect the public.

Once registered, contractors can bid, advertise, and perform construction work. This can include constructing, remodeling, repairing and demolishing buildings, roads and other real property.

There are two classifications of construction contractors in the state:

  • General contractors can perform most types of construction work. They can hire subcontractors in multiple specialties. However, contractors working with plumbing, electrical, elevators, mobile home installation, boilers, and asbestos have additional requirements for education, examination, and licensing.
  • Specialty contractors can only perform work in the specialty they are registered in. They cannot hire subcontractors.

Working without registering as a contractor in Washington carries substantial penalties and fines.

Contractor specialties

L&I regulates 63 specialties that each require contractor registration. These specialties include roofing, painting, HVAC, tree removal, mobile home set-up, and dozens more.

How to register

To register with L&I as a contractor, you must:

  • Register your business with Department of Revenue.
  • Get a surety bond or an assignment of savings.
  • Purchase a general liability insurance policy.
  • Complete your Application for Contractor Registration.
  • Pay the required application fee of $117.90.

The order you complete these steps can affect how quickly you can complete the registration process.

Getting started

For the fastest and simplest registration process, we recommend this three-step process:

Step 1: Decide on your business structure and name

  • If you are setting up a sole proprietor or partnership, decide on your business name, or if you already have registered your business and have a Uniform Business Identifier (UBI), proceed to step 2.
  • If you are starting a business that is incorporated, such as an LLC or Corporation, you should contact the Secretary of State or a private attorney to incorporate your business.

If you are unsure which business structure you should use, see our guide, Applying for Your Washington Business License: A Step-by-Step Guide (F101-079-000), or visit business.wa.gov for in-depth information on starting and structuring your business.

Step 2: Purchase your surety bond and insurance

To register as a contractor, you will need to purchase:

  • A Washington Continuous Contractor Surety Bond in the amount of:
    • $12,000 for general contractors
    • $6,000 for specialty contractors
  • A general liability insurance policy in the amount of:
    • $200,000 in public liability and $50,000 property damage, or
    • $250,000 combined single limit

Your bond and insurance must use your exact business name, and L&I must be listed as a certificate holder for your liability insurance. If you are unsure how to purchase your surety bond and insurance, contact a licensed insurance agent.

Step 3: Visit your local L&I office

At your local L&I office, our customer service representatives can help you register your business and complete your application. To avoid unnecessary delays, you will need to have the following:

  1. The business name and business structure you have chosen, or your business registration and UBI number from the Department of Revenue.
  2. An original, completed Application for Contractor Registration (F625-001-000) with notarized signatures, or we can help you complete your application and notarize signatures with any applicants who are present.
  3. Your continuous contractor surety bond or assignment of savings.
  4. Your certificate of general liability insurance.
  5. Your registration fee.

Additional ways to register

You can mail your completed, signed, and notarized Application for Contractor Registration (F625-011-000) to the address below along with:

  • Continuous contractor surety bond or assignment of savings.
  • Certificate of general liability insurance.
  • A check or money order payable to the Department of Labor & Industries.

Mail to:

Contractor Registration
P.O. BOX 44450
Olympia, WA 98504-4450

Note: All signatures on your application must be original and notarized. We cannot accept a copy of your application.

Completed applications submitted by mail take around 3-5 days after receipt to process and activate your registration. Once your business is registered, it will be listed in our Verify a Contractor, Tradesperson, or Business tool. You will receive a registration card in about 2 weeks.

If any of the required information is missing or incorrect, we will contact you to help complete your registration.

Renew

If your business has not had any changes, such as changing partners, a business name or structure change, or changing your specialty, you can renew using one of the options below. If you need to make changes or update your business information, see the instructions below.

Before you complete your renewal, use our Verify a Contractor, Tradesperson, or Business tool to make sure that your:

  • Surety bond or assignment of account and general liability insurance information is up to date.
  • Contractor registration is not suspended.

Renew online

To renew online, you will need the following information:

  • Your 12-digit Contractor Registration number.
  • Your UBI number.
  • The required fee of $117.90.
    • We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express credit or debit cards. We also accept E-Check, a one-time withdrawal from your checking account.

Renew by mail

Review the information on the contractor registration renewal card you received in the mail. If your information is correct, and your required documentation is current, mail the renewal card with a check or money order in the amount of $117.90 to:

Department of Labor & Industries
Contractor Registration Section
PO Box 44450
Olympia WA 98504-4450

Renew in person

Bring your renewal card to your nearest local L&I office. You can pay by cash, check, money order, or credit/debit card.

Change/Update Your Insurance or Bond

If you have a new bonding company/bond amount or a new insurance company or coverage amount since you last renewed, you will need to update your information before you renew. Your bond amount cannot be reduced for 2 years if you switch from a general to a specialty contractor.

New or updated bond

To renew your registration, we must have:

  • Your new surety bond, signed by your bonding agent with the bonding company’s seal.
    • The bond must be the original, uncorrected document, not a photocopy.
    • The name of your business on your bond must be exactly the same as the one on file with L&I.
    • It must reach L&I before the “filing date” shown on the bond.

New or updated insurance

To renew your insurance, we must have:

  • Your new certificate of general liability insurance, for at least $250,000.
  • An electronic confirmation sent to L&I directly from your insurance agent, or an original, uncorrected paper certificate of insurance signed by your insurance agent (not a photocopy). The name of your business on the certificate must be exactly the same as the one on file with L&I.

Bring all required documents and your renewal payment of $117.90 to your local L&I office, or mail it to:

Department of Labor & Industries
Contractor Registration Section
PO Box 44450
Olympia, WA 98504-4450

Note: Include your registration renewal card with your paperwork. This will help us quickly process your renewal.

Reinstate

We suspend a registration when the registration requirements are not met, such as a bond or insurance cancelling or expiring or an unsatisfied judgment.

When we suspend a registration, we will notify you by both certified and first-class mail within 2 days of the suspension. The letter will tell you what you need to do to reinstate your registration.

You may reinstate your registration online or in person. To reinstate, you must:

• Provide your 12 character Contractor Registration Number, email address, and phone number.
• Provide proof that you corrected the issue, such as a new bond or insurance certificate or satisfaction of judgment.
• Pay the reinstatement fee of $55.70.

Reinstate online

By reinstating online, your registration will show as active as soon as you make your payment.

Reinstate in person or by mail

You may bring the required documents and payment to your local L&I office. We accept cash, checks, money orders and credit/debit cards.

You may also mail the required documents and payment (check or money order) to:

Washington Department of Labor & Industries
Contractor Registration Section
PO Box 44450
Olympia WA 98504-4450

Information

Advertising

After you've registered, you must use your contractor registration number on all your business communications.

By law, when you advertise, solicit bids or offer to perform work, you must always include your contractor registration number. This includes business cards, Yellow Page ads, newspaper ads, internet ads, estimates and bid proposals.

Bonds

Which contractors must be bonded and what must this bond include?

General and specialty contractors must provide a Continuous Contractor’s Surety Bond (F625-003-000). Surety bonds are available through a bonding company or insurance agency. Premiums vary with each company, as do the requirements for being bonded.

The bond must include the bond number and exact business name.

Are there any alternatives to a bond?

The alternative to a bond is an assigned bank account. An Assignment of Account (F625-008-000) must be on this form (also available at L&I local offices). You may post the required amount in the form of cash, a certificate of deposit, time deposit, or money market account in a bank, savings and loan association or credit union with a branch in Washington.

Insurance

Get general proof of liability insurance coverage from your insurance agent.

  • $50,000 property damage policy and $200,000 public liability policy, or
  • $250,000 combined single limit policy.

NOTE: Originals of your bond and insurance will be required to complete your registration.

Model disclosure

You must provide this Model Disclosure Statement Notice to Customer (F625-030-000) for all residential jobs of $1,000 or more and for commercial projects of $1,000 to $60,000.

Safety

Understand your responsibilities for the safety of your employees and sub-contractors.