How to get a Tennessee Contractors License

There are 8 steps to obtaining a Tennessee Contractor License. Anyone who intends to bid on projects costing more than $25,000 including materials and labor must become licensed. Below are the 8 steps you’ll need to take in order to get a Tennessee Contractor License.

1. Take the NASCLA Commercial Contractors Exam
But first, you’ll want to make sure you are fully prepared by taking the NASCLA (Commercial) General Contractor Exam Prep Course which will prepare you to take and pass the Tennessee State Exam given by PSI exams. View course details here.

2. The law requires a Reviewed or Audited financial statement which must be prepared by a licensed independent firm. There is no exception! Contact a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a Licensed Public Accountant who is actively licensed to prepare a “Reviewed” or “Audited” financial statement. They may be licensed in the state where the business operates. In Tennessee, you may check with the Tennessee Board of Accountancy to perform a License Search to verify if they are properly licensed as both a firm and individually, to perform an audit or review.

3. Submit the following

Letter of reference - Submit the letter of reference from the application and have it completed by a past client or employer who may comment about your construction work/experience OR a code official who has inspected your work. Only one reference letter is necessary.

Proof of insurance - General Liability is required based upon the monetary limit of a contractor. Workers’ Compensation insurance is required, or you may supply proof of exemption.

4. If you are a Corporation, Limited Liability Company etc. you must do the following

Tennessee corporations must submit a copy of their Charter and proof showing they have registered with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office.

Out-of-State corporations must register as a foreign corporation and submit a copy of their Charter, along with a copy of their Certificate of Authority showing they have registered their charter (we may accept a copy of their application stamped “FILED” from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office in order to meet the 20th deadline).

Limited Liability Companies (LLC) must submit a copy of their Articles of Organization, and proof showing they have registered/filed with Tennessee Secretary of State, including out of state entities.

Limited Partnerships must register with the Secretary of State.

Exemption Registry for Workers’ Compensation as a “Construction Services Provider” requires registration with another section of the Secretary of State’s office.

Name on License -Make sure your entity is filed in the same name as the financial statement. The contractor’s license is issued in the legal name and mode of operation exactly as on the financial statement. Bidding and contracts must be in the exact name as licensed, as well.

DBA (Doing Business As) - If your entity is in a name with a “DBA”, this will need to be included on the certificate obtained from the Secretary of State and on the financial statement, exactly as on the form. For example, if the entity is wanting to go by, “John Doe DBA Doe’s Quality Construction, LLC”, this whole name must be on ALL documents; contracts must be in the name as licensed and could not be prepared as “Doe’s Quality Construction, LLC” or “John Doe”.)

Complete the synopsis, experience and affidavit pages of the “Contractor’s License Application”.

Make sure all questions on the application are complete. If you feel any questions do not apply, please write an explanation; do not leave anything blank! Be sure to list experience from working with other companies, as well as that of another owner (s) or officers.

Please list information from other licenses, such as, if this is a second or additional license; or if you were a qualifying agent or officer listed on a license. Disclosure of a felony, judgments, or complaints is also required. Failing to disclose, could delay the issuance of the license for submitting false information.

5. Contractor’s Affidavit

Be sure the affidavit is signed and notarized by all applicable individuals (qualifying agent, owner(s), partners, members, main officers, and major stockholders). All blocks must be checked. Attach an explanation where applicable. If you have complaints, convictions or have bid where a license is required, you will be required to interview with the Board. Supplying false information is grounds for having a license denied.

6. Once the entire application is complete, submit with the $250.00 nonrefundable application fee (this may be a company, personal or cashier’s check (no cash or credit cards) payable to Contractor’s Board. Attach check to the application cover and mail to the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors

7. Board Interview
An interview may be required with a Board member at the regularly scheduled meeting (see “Calendar” for meeting dates) for those not meeting the criteria to have the interview waived (see “Waiver of Interview” below). Those who are obtaining a restricted residential (BC-A/r) must interview; those with not enough experience provided on the application (3 years); those with felony convictions; and those with complaints are also not waived. These applicants will receive a letter notifying an interview is required.

8. The staff will process your license to be issued after approval by the Board meeting. You will be mailed a license certificate which will have your license ID number, classification, expiration date (this is the same information required to be on the outside of a bid envelope!) and also your license monetary limit. You may check the status of the license issuance at License Search. For tips on searching licenses, see “License Search Tips”.

The license is issued for two years. Renewals are mailed 90 days prior to expiration date; required to be renewed 30 days prior to expiration.

Contractors may apply for a license revision in order to make changes. Such as, change the mode of operation; increase their licensed monetary limit; add a classification; add or remove their Qualifying Agent, or may retire the license if they are not working and want to cancel insurance. This information is available on the “Forms Download” section on the web.

Due to changing laws, please review the state website for updates.

Source: Excerpted from Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors

Tennessee Contractor License Exam Prep and Professional Development

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