Virginia Contractor’s Guide to Licensing

Anyone who wants or wishes to perform or manage contract work, removal, or repairs that total at least $1,000 in value are required to obtain a license from the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) under Code of Virginia 54.1-1103. The Virginia legislature enacted these licensing laws and regulations to ensure that contractors engage in ethical business practices.

Candidates must complete the following eight steps before they are eligible for a license and can submit a completed application to the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation of the Commonwealth of Virginia:

  1. Create your business entity and get registered.
  2. Determine the correct contractor license type.
  3. Identify your responsible management.
  4. Identify your qualified individual.
  5. Appoint a designated employee and take the examination.
  6. Complete pre-license course education.
  7. Post a surety bond.
  8. Compile documents/fees and submit the application.

1. Create your business entity and get registered.

According to Virginia Code, contractor licenses are only issued to businesses, not individuals. Therefore, the first step is to create a business entity. This includes sole proprietorships, limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships, and corporations. 

Several business types, such as corporations, LLCs, and limited partnerships, are required to register with the State Corporation Commission. If your business operates under a partnership or sole proprietorship model, you must register your business name with the court in your company’s local jurisdiction. 

Regardless of the type of business entity determined, the annual business registration fee is $50.

It is important that you provide documentation of a fictitious or alternative name as part of your application for the Board of Contractors. Under Virginia regulations, your business name must apply to the work that is allowed by your license. Names cannot be misleading or insinuate that businesses are permitted to perform work that they are not. For more information on business entities, visit Virginia’s Business One Stop service.

2. Determine the correct contractor license type.

To obtain licensure in the state of Virginia, contractors must determine their class and specialty. Defined by the Board for Contractors, a class determines the restrictions placed on the projects that may be performed. There are three board-recognized classes that contractors can identify with:

  • Class A: For contractors who work on single contracts of at least $120,000 or as much as $750,000 (or more)
  • Class B: For contractors who work on single contracts of $10,000 or more, but less than $120,000; they may work with contracts that total $150,000 or more, but less than $170,000 within one year
  • Class C: For contractors who work on single contracts of at least $1,000 or more, but less than $10,000, or totaling less than $150,000 within one year

***Note: Landscape irrigation and water well contractors are required to be licensed as any of the above classes, regardless of the total cost amount of the project or contract.

A specialty can be described as the type of the work or category the licensed contractor will be performing within. Individual tradesmen who work as HVAC contractors, back-flow preventers, building energy analysts, plumbers, gas fitters, electricians, or elevator mechanics are given licensure by the Board of Contractors. The specialties are as follows:

  • Building
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Highway/heavy

These classifications and specialties are identified by three letters that are then printed at the bottom of your license. It is important that contractors are accurate in selecting the correct specialty that describes the business’s work to ensure there are no violations of the regulations tied to each specialty. Violation of the regulations can result in disciplinary action against one’s contractor license. 

To be eligible for the specialty tied to the contractor’s license, a “qualified individual” must be determined and meet the eligibility criteria. The designated qualified individual must demonstrate experience and the appropriate knowledge through an individual licensure/certification or examination. There will be no issuing of a contractor’s license without these requirements.

3. Identify your responsible management.

It is required under Virginia law that all licensed contractors identity the officers, members, partners, and owners of their business entity. These individuals are responsible for ensuring specified statutes and regulations are abided by and follow their business entity format. 

This business type entity varies by company and includes sole proprietorships who identify one individual or partnerships who identify all partners, corporations, officers, LLCs, members, or managers. All listed individuals must provide their name, birthdate, Social Security number or Virginia DMV Control Number, address, and a copy of their government-issued photo ID.

4. Identify your qualified individual.

All Virginia contractor businesses are required to have a Qualified Individual (QI) for the class and specialty/specialties identified on their application. This person can also be the QI for more than one classification or specialty. To be eligible as the Qualified Individual, a person must:

  1. Include his or her name, birthdate, Social Security number or Virginia DMV Control Number, address, and a copy of his or her government-issued photo ID.
  2. Be a full-time employee (working a minimum of 30 hours per week; not a 1099 employee) or a member of the responsible management of the business applying.
  3. Have a minimum amount of experience within the specialty that will be linked to the class of license determined. The type of work that may be counted for this experience can be found under the specialty definition provided by the Board of Contractors’ regulations. The minimum amounts for each class are as follows:
    • Class A: 5 years of experience
    • Class B: 3 years of experience
    • Class C: 2 years of experience
  4. Obtain an additional license/certification or complete a technical exam based on the area of specialty. 
    • For example, trade-related specialties require the QI to hold an up-to-date Master Tradesman license. This can be issued by the Board for Contractors. You can find a list of additional QI requirements in the application packet under “Trade-Related Examinations and Qualifications.” Candidates can check out the Tradesmen Program page for information on the examination and look up their license renewal requirements here.
    • The QI specialty exam has a fee that can be paid directly to PSI for $85. Candidates can find more information about locations and the exam on the Contractor Specialty Examination Candidate Information Bulletin.

5. Appoint a designated employee and take the examination.

In addition to designating a Qualified Individual, a Designated Employee of at least 18 years of age must be appointed as a member of Responsible Management or a bona fide full-time employee.

Class A and B contractors, as determined in step 4, must have this employee pass the required sections of the contractor’s exam issued by the state. This differs from QIs, for the QI takes an exam for their specialty and are not required to pass certain portions. All Designated Employees for Class B, however, are required to complete and pass the General and Virginia portions of the examination. All employees for Class A licensure must complete and pass the General, Virginia, and Advanced portions of the exam. 

***Note: There are no requirements for a Designated Employee for Class C licensure.

PSI Examination Services of Class A and B

The Class B contractor license examination is two-parts that are comprised of a Virginia Section and General Section. The Virginia Section tests the candidate’s knowledge of the state’s laws and regulations that govern contractors, while the General tests the candidate’s general administrative and business knowledge.

The Class A contractor license examination is a three-part exam comprised of Virginia, General, and Advanced Sections. The Advanced Section tests the candidate’s general administrative and business knowledge in more depth. 

Designated Employees who are in firms applying for a Class A or B Building License Classification must pass a Building Technical Examination. All examinations are proctored by PSI and are administered daily (Monday-Friday). 

Candidates can contact PSI or access its website for registration. The exam fees are as follows:

  • One section of the exam: $40
  • Two sections of the exam: $72
  • Three sections of the exam: $85
  • Class A exam: $60
  • Class B exam: $40
  • Tradesman examination fee: $130

Candidates for a company’s Designated Employee designation can get more information on locations and the exam by PSI on the Contractor Examination Candidate Information Bulletin.

If you plan to do work as an individual tradesman, you may also be subject to local ordinances, laws, and other requirements imposed by other state agencies, courts, and/or certain localities. Any queries about local specifications should be directed to the community in which you plan to practice your trade.

After applicants successfully complete their contractor’s examination, they are eligible to become a Designated Employee. On the application, they must include their name, birthdate, Social Security number or Virginia DMV Control Number, address, and a copy of their government-issued photo ID.

6. Complete pre-license course education.

In the state of Virginia, applicants must complete at least eight hours of pre-license education, approved by the Board of Contractors, to be licensed as a Contractor (Class A, B, or C). For Class A and B applicants, the Designated Employee or a member of Responsible Management must have this qualification. For Class C applicants, it is required soley for a member of Responsible Management to compete the pre-license courses. 

Pre-license courses are required for contractors wishing to pursue a new license; this is a separate requirement from Class A and Class B examinations. Within the course, applicants will learn basic business concepts that cover relevant regulations, state statutes, and requirements every business owner should have knowledge in. 

***Note: This education course is not specific to any particular specialty or classification. 

A board-approved advanced contractor class will also be accepted to meet the requirements for the pre-licensure course. Applicants can choose from an approved list of education providers from the Board of Contractors to meet the education requirements.

After taking the education course, it is important that you request proof of completion from the course provider to electronically submit to the Board. This submission will identify the course, provider, date of completion, and name of the student who completed the course. 

7. Post a surety bond.

A contractor surety bond is put in place to protect customers against unlawful or misleading business activity and ensures that the contractor conducts operations according to state, county, or city provisions.

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation requires contractors to post a $50,000 surety bond. This is in place of providing financial statements to prove net worth if the contractor cannot meet the minimum requirement for Class A or B licenses. 

Bonding requirements differ between cities and counties within the State of Virginia. For example, Prince William County requires home improvement contractors to be bonded with one specific amount, while Roanoke County varies significantly depending on the contractor’s work and size of work. 

It is important to check your residing city and county for specific bond coverage requirements prior to bonding. Applicants can find their Virginia contractor bond here or call one of our experts at 1 (800) 308-4358 to get covered today with SuretyBonds.com!

***Note: Class C contractors are exempt from this requirement. 

8. Compile documents/fees and submit your application.

All applicants must ensure all items on the application are completed and attached, if applicable. When filling out the application, applicants can choose between interactive and static forms. 

  • Interactive: Interactive applications can be filed online and sent electronically or downloaded for future reference.
  • Static: Static applications can only be printed and completed by hand. The advantage of this option Is that it is easily accessible on different devices, but the processing of the application will be slower in comparison to interactive. 

Applicants must make sure to include the following with their application:

  • Surety bond or form of financial verification
  • Contractor Experience Form (filled out by the applicant)
  • Any other verification form(s) as applicable. Applicants can find verification forms here.
  • Applicable fees:
    • Class A license: $385
    • Class B license: $370
    • Class C license: $235

Money orders and checks should be made payable to “Treasurer of Virginia.”

Note: Deposits do not guarantee application approval by the Board. Please note that fees are nonrefundable; therefore, if the applicant does not meet the requirements of licensure and sends in the fee, the applicant will not be refunded. 

Submit your printed and completed static license applications to:

Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation

9960 Maryland Drive, Suite 400

Richmond, Virginia 23233-1485

Email your interactive application to [email protected]. Applicants can inquire about the application form by emailing the Board for Contractors at [email protected] or by calling the licensing staff at (804) 367-8511. Applicants may take up to 30 days to be processed, varying on a number of factors including the requirements and history of each applicant.

When does my Virginia contractor license expire?

A Virginia contractor license is valid for two years, starting from the last day of the month during which your license was issued, and it must be renewed before its expiration date. Contractors can simply renew their license online through the DPOR’s licensing portal here. If you are a contractor who is licensed as an individual, you will need to mail a statement, along with the fee made payable to the following address, for the renewal of a license (you MUST include your license number(s)): 

Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation

9960 Maryland Drive, Suite 400

Richmond, Virginia 23233-1485

If your license has been expired for more than 30 days, you must contact Board staff at (804) 367-8511 or [email protected] for further guidance.  

Need a Surety Bond?

If you’re a Virginia contractor in search of a surety bond, call 1 (800) 308-4358 to talk to a SuretyBonds.com surety expert or get a free, no-obligation quote.