The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issues licenses to contractors after providing comprehensive education and examinations. For consumers, the License Board offers a means to review construction law, licensees, and file complaints.

general contractors license

The License Board can also take action in regards to complaints, including issuing citation, suspending and revoking licenses, and seeking sanction against violators. Working to educate consumers and contractors while working against unlicensed contractors working in the state of California, the CSLB is a complete resource for all topics construction industry related.

The CSLB for Contractors

From initiating the process to gain your contractor’s license through working to master your skills and strengthen your position within the industry, the constractor’s licensing board will be your most valuable resource.

The Licensing Process

Who Should Be Licensed

Any business or individual performing any type of construction with a total cost of one or more projects being $500 or more in California must be licensed. First time offenses for contracting without a license are usually a misdemeanor and the consequences increase with subsequent violations. To qualify for a contractor’s license you must be at least 18 years of age and possess the skills and knowledge necessary to run a construction business on a daily basis. In the last ten years you must have had four full years of experience as a foreman, supervisor, contractor, or at journey level. To apply for licensure you must also have $2500 operating expenses.

Licensing Classifications

You may apply for only one license application at a time.

  • Class A – General Engineering Contractor
  • Class B – General Building Contractor
  • Class C – Specialty Contractor (including 45 sub-category specialties)

Applying for a License

Contractors State License Board


Complete an application for original CSLB license. Include with the application the fee of $300 and a Certification of Work Experience form detailing the experience you have had in the license category for which you are applying. Upon approval of your application you will receive a notice to appear for examination. At this point, you should report to an examination site to take the 2 1/2 hour computerized exam. You will receive the results of your exam before leaving the testing center. After passing the exam you will be required to give fingerprints. Finally, you will pay the $180 initial licensing fee. You will then receive your license which will be valid for a period of two years.

Growing in the Industry

Beyond obtaining a general contractors license, the CSLB is an excellent place to find information about growing trends in the field. The Contractor Newsletter is published quarterly and contains valuable information for CSLB license holders. The License Board also provides several opportunities for education both about specific contracting basics and about developing business skills. The Licensing Board has an Industry Expert Program as well. Individual contractors who have five years’ experience along with meeting other requirements may participate in this program which assists the state in examining construction jobs.

The CSLB for Consumers


When planning any home improvement or construction project you know that it is essential to choose a qualified contractor to work with, you may also have several other questions regarding the legalities and process of undertaking a large construction project.

The CSLB is designed as a resource for consumers to find quality contractors who hold a general contractor’s license, find answers to any questions regarding construction, and, if necessary, file complaints against contractors who do not perform as expected.

Searching for a Licensed Professional From The License Board

The CSLB provides a simple platform to search for a contractor’s license.

If you have already received bids from contractors this is a great place to go to check out the contractors. You have the ability to search for information by the contractor’s business or personal name, license number or Home Improvement number. Not only will you be able to use this tool to verify the status of an individual’s license but, you will also be able to see a listing of any existing complaints about the particular contractor. If you have not already received bids for a project and are trying to determine what kind of contractor you need, the board offers tips and advice about what kind of contractor you need and how to find the right contractor.

Make Yourself Aware of the Law

general contractors raleigh nc

Through the CSLB you will find information regarding the legalities surrounding construction projects including permits, liens, and issues that may arise when completing a construction project on your own. Permits are issued through local building departments, the License Board offers a guide to all of these local departments so that you may determine which projects require permits in your area. One of the risks associated with hiring a contractor to perform construction on your home is that the contractor may legally file a lien if you do not remit payment as agreed. A lien against your home follows sale and, in extreme cases, could lead to the loss of your home.

The CSLBĀ  provides a full breakdown of the definition of liens, causes and consequences of liens, and legal remedies for dealing with liens. Working without a contractor on home improvement and construction projects involves several risks. If you decide to go without a contractor, the License Board offers advice on handling the project professionally to avoid any risk.

Filing a Complaint

If the contractor you hired has failed to fulfill the terms of your agreement, you may file a complaint against the contractor with the state licensing agency. These complaints will be investigated by the Board whether they are against licensed or unlicensed contractors. The complaint process involves several steps including, in this order, mediation, investigation, arbitration, and disciplinary action. The CSLB encourages those seeking restitution to consult with an attorney and pursue the matter in small claims court. The License Board also advises consumers to report unlicensed activity. It is explained that those working as unlicensed contractors are working in support of the state’s underground economy and are therefore detrimental to the state’s overall economic health. These claims are investigated by the Statewide Investigative Fraud Team.