How to Get Licensed and Registered as a Contractor in Washington State

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First, determine the appropriate business entity for your company. Most construction companies in Washington are either a Limited Liability Corporation or an S-Corporation although your options include C-Corporations, Sole-Proprietorships, General Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Limited Partnerships. You will want to become familiar with the pros and cons of each business structure and determine which one best fits your business goals.


After selecting which your business entity you will have to register with the Washington Secretary of State. This typically includes filing Articles of Incorporation (for an S-Corporation or C-Corporation) and a Certificate of Formation for a Limited Liability Company. You must also pay a $180.00 filing fee. Note that you do not have to register with the Secretary of State if you are forming a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership.


You will next need to obtain a master business application from the Washington Department of Licensing. This is when you will receive your Washington State Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number. This application will also allow you to open your business, add a license, register your trade name, hire employees and obtain some state and city licenses.


If your company plans on hiring employees, you will then need to apply for an IRS employer ID.


Next, you will need to apply for contractor registration with the Contractor’s Section of the Department of Labor and Industries. You can do this by completing the application for the contractor registration, signing it and having it notarized.


You will then need to purchase a bond. Washington law requires that general contractors have a bond limit of $12,000.00 and specialty contractors have a bond limit of $6,000.00. If you do not wish to purchase a bond, your only other option is to file a deposit consisting of cash or other security acceptable to the department. However, it is much simpler to purchase the bond.


You will then need to purchase general liability insurance coverage. You will need limits of $50,000.00 for property damage and $200,000.00 for a public liability policy or you can purchase a $250.000.00 combined single limit policy.


You will then need submit your application for the contractor registration, proof of your bond and insurance (originals are required) to the Contractor’s Section of the Department of Labor & Industries along with the filing fee (currently $113.40 for 2 years).


After you’ve completed these steps, it’s time to get to work!


Legal Disclaimer: The information on this page does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as each situation is fact specific and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. The information on this page is solely for the purpose of legal education and is intended to only provide general information about the matters stated therein. The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area of the matters stated therein. No attorney-client relationship is formed without an actual agreement confirmed in writing. I am licensed only in Washington and Oregon.