Application Tips

Note, Please review the detailed instructions on the state application forms. If you have questions, call the Contractor’s State License Board at (916) 255-3900 and ask to speak with an information technician. For recorded information, call (800) 321-2752. If those lines are busy, call or visit one of the local offices listed in the attached sheet called “CONTRACTOR’S STATE LICENSE BOARD OFFICES.”

Fill out the application forms in ink (preferably blue or black) or with a typewriter. Do not use a pencil.

The following should be submitted when applying for an original contractors’ license.



(Remember that an application listing self-employed experience must be accompanied by at least two certificates.)


If you have a disability and require special accommodations such as wheelchair access to exam site, a reader, or extended testing time, you should also complete and submit with your application the form entitled “SPECIAL ACCOMMODATION REQUEST FOR EXAMINATION.”

For information on required ID and exam procedures and materials, please see attached copy of “PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE COMING TO THE EXAMINATION SITE.”


The following suggestions refer to the questions that appear starting on Page 1 of the CSLB’S “APPLICATION FOR ORIGINAL CONTRACTOR’S LICENSE” (Form 13A-1, revised 3/95).

Question 1. State the full name of the business. The business name may be the same as the owner’s name. If you are applying for an individual license and have not decided on a business name, enter your personal name. After you pass the state exams, the board will send you a form that permits you to change your business name before the license is issued.

A business name does not have to indicate the type of trade. But if you do mention a trade, make sure it’s the one for which your business will be licensed! For example, do not call the business “Acme Plumbing” if it will not be licensed in the C-36 (Plumbing) classification.

Do not list “Incorporated” or “Inc.” unless your business is a corporation registered with the Secretary of State. Likewise, do not use “Partners” or “Partnership” unless the business is actually a partnership.

Question 2. This address will be shown on official records for the license. The Board will send all correspondence to this address. It may be the same as your residential address.

Question 3. Give the code for the license classification (e.g., B or C-10). The classifications are listed in the information sheet attached to the application.

Question 4. Give a brief description that is consistent with your license classification. For example, an application for a General Building (B) license might read “Residential Remodeling.”

Question 5. Check one only. For the purposes of this application, your business may be an individual business (sole proprietorship), partnership (limited or general), or a corporation.

Question 6. List the FULL legal name of the owner. If this is a partnership, list all the partners, including limited partners. A cooperation must list the officers. When listing names, do not use an initial unless the initial is the complete legal name (and say so). If someone has no middle name, say so.

The Social Security number is no longer optional. The board will return the application to you if you fail to provide it.

P.O. boxes are not accepted for residential addresses. A street address is required. If none is available, list the road or district and the nearest cross-streets.

The qualifying individual (QI) is the person in a business who has the work experience required for a contractor’s license. Every license must have a QI. The QI may be an owner, partner, responsible managing employee (RME), or responsible managing officer (RMO).

INDIVIDUAL: List the single owner. The QI is either the owner or an RME.

PARTNERSHIP: List all partners. The QI is either a general partner (called the “Qualifying Partner”) or an RME. Upon the death or disassociation (departure) of any partner, the board will automatically cancel the partnership license. A limited partner is one who is not actively engaged in managing the business (i.e., is one who contributes capital to the partnership and is not liable for debts of the partnership beyond the amount contributed).

CORPORATION: List all officers of the corporation. The QI is either an RME or RMO, (e.g., president of the corporation).

All corporations must list a president, secretary, and treasurer, although a single person may hold more than one of these offices.

Question 7. The titles next to each signature must match the titles listed in question 6.


A surprising number of applications are rejected every year because of these simple omissions. It’s best to sign the application with your complete name as listed in  question 6, even though your customary signature might be shorter or stylized.

Furthermore, make sure all personnel listed in question 6 sign question 7.  One of the most common reasons for an application being rejected is that one or more of the partners or corporate officers have failed to sign the application.

Questions 8-12. Any “yes” answer requires a detailed explanation on a separate sheet of paper. All questions apply to each person listed in Question 6.

Question 11. The Board may deny a license if a crime is “substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a contractor licensee” (California Code of Regulations, title 16, division 8, section 868).

Question 13. A financial statement is not required. To determine if your operating capital exceeds $2,500, subtract your current liabilities from your current assets. In general, current assets include cash on hand, money in the bank, accounts receivable, and any other items such as inventory that will be converted to cash within a year. Current liabilities are debts that will come due within a year. Please consult a bookkeeper or accountant if you are unsure about your operating capital.

Question 14. This boils down to “Will the QI really be responsible for directly supervising and controlling the business in an active way?” The answer had better be “yes” or there is no need to proceed any further. Note that the QI must work at least 32 hours (or 80% of the total hours) per week.

Question 15. A domestic corporation is incorporated within California. A foreign corporation is incorporated outside the state. Make sure you have obtained the corporate number from the California Secretary of State. For further information, call (916) 657-5448.

  • For partnerships, the IRS Federal Employer Identification Number must be listed.

Question 16. This applies only to an RMO or qualifying partner. List the QI and the amount of voting stock or equity.

Question 17. This is a bit redundant, but list the QI here.

Questions 18-20. These questions may be skipped if the qualifier:

  1. is already qualifying a license in good standing in the same license classification;
  2. has qualified a license in good standing in the same license classification within the past 5 years; or
  3. passed the law and trade exam in the same classification within the past five years.

Question 18. If you completed a union apprenticeship and want to apply it toward your experience requirement, fill in this section. If you do not have an official apprenticeship certificate, be prepared to submit impressive documentation with your application. Overseas apprenticeships are valid if they are comparable or exceed U.S. apprenticeships and can be documented.

Question 19. If you can provide the transcripts, the following credit toward experience may be approved:

  • Up to 1-1/2 years credit: For an AA degree in building or construction management.
  • Up to 2 years credit: For a 4-year degree in accounting, business, economics, math, physics, or areas related to the specific trade being applied for; for a professional law degree; or for substantial course work in accounting, architecture, business, construction technology, drafting, economics, engineering, math, or physics. (If no degree was completed, partial credit may be given on a course-by-course basis of approximately one month for every 3-unit college course completed.)
  • Up to 3 years credit: For a 4-year degree in architecture, construction technology, or any engineering field that is directly related to the trade applied for; for the C-27 license only, a 4-year degree in horticulture or landscape horticulture; for a completed union apprenticeship in the trade applied for.

Question 20. At least 4 years experience within the past 10 years must be listed, although credit from question 18 or 19 can be applied toward the 4-year requirement if approved. The experience listed must be in the trade classification applied for. Administrative duties, such as estimating, bidding and bookkeeping, without actual field experience in the trade are not acceptable.

Before describing your work experience, read the CSLB’S definition of your trade classification.

Check the “Part-time” box if you did not work continuously and on a full-time basis during the dates indicated. For example, let us say you spent an average of 20 hours per week installing drywall from 6/1/91 to 5/31/96. The time period is 5 years, but since you only worked half time you would enter 2 years and 6 months in the spaces next to “Total.”

As another example, if during a 10-year period you worked fulltime but only every other year, you may claim 5 years: Check the “part-time” box and enter 5 years 0 months in the spaces next to “Total.”