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featured image has a picture of california. Blog post about how contractors from other states can get licensed in california and the truth about california contractor license reciprocity

Can I use my California Contractor License In Other States?

 Yes, depending on the state. Arizona, Utah and Nevada all have reciprocity agreements with California. 

Contractor License reciprocity is an agreement between the Contractor licensing boards of two different states. 

It can mean that they have similar building standards, allowing contractors to work freely between states.

In the context of licensing, it means that a contractor who is licensed in one state, may not need to retake an exam to get licensed in another state.

This article will cover everything you need to know about California contractor license reciprocity

California Contractor License Law

Construction is regulated by state agencies.

Every state has different laws and levels of regulation for contractors.

In the state of California, construction contractors are regulated by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB)

The CSLB governs:

  • Licensing 
  • Facilitating Examinations
  • Contractor Licensing Administration
  • Renewal Fees
  • Bonding
  • Enforcing contractor law
logo of the Contractors State License Board

Contractors State License Board

CSLB Requirements

To get a California Contractor License you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have 4 years journeyman level experience
  • Not currently be on probation or parole
  • Have a valid driver’s license or USA ID
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN #
  • Pass a LAW and TRADE exam

There are 73 different classifications available in the state of California.

For more information on the California contractor license process, click here.

Which states have Reciprocity with California?

California does not accept contractor licenses from other states.

To perform services, you must be licensed in California. However, if you have a contractor license in Nevada, Utah or Arizona it is possible, you can get a California contractor license without taking a trade portion of the exam.

Those who hold a license in California can apply for reciprocity in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona as well.

The CSLB has reciprocity agreements with the Contractor Licensing boards of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah because there are similarities is building standards, requirements, and scope of practice.

  • The license you are applying for has to appear on the list of reciprocal classifications list
  • Your license must be currently in good standing for the last 5 years
  • You must submit a Request for Verification of License form to the agency that you are currently licensed under

If you meet all of the above requirements, there is a chance that the CSLB will wave your trade portion.

However, this is always up to the board, and ultimately whoever is reviewing your application.

I have seen many cases where somebody qualified for reciprocity but still had to take the test... so be prepared just in case.

California Contractor LAW

California has some of the strictest laws in terms of regulation in the construction industry.

  • To get licensed and bonded in California, you must pass a two part examination. 
  • The  exam consists of two parts LAW and TRADE.

If you are applying for any license under the C-61 Limited Specialty Classification, you will only take a LAW test.

Currently, the Contractors State License Board has testing locations in:

  • Berkeley 
  • Fresno 
  • Norwalk 
  • Oxnard
  • Sacramento 
  • San Bernardino 
  • San Diego  
  • San Jose
Contractor Reciprocity by State

The following classifications are part of California's reciprocity agreement.

Applicants can apply not to have to take a trade exam, but will still need to take Californias Contractor law exam.

Below on the left, you will find the name of the contractor license classification of the respective state, and on the right, you will see the title and description of the classification in California.


Phoenix Office: 

(602)542-1525

Monday - Friday:   8:00am - 5:00pm

1700 W. Washington St. Suite 105

Tucson Office: 

(520)628-6345

Monday - Friday:   8:00am - 5:00pm

400 W. Congress St. Suite. 212 

Flagstaff Office: 

(877)692-9762

Monday - Friday:   8:00am - 5:00pm

2501 N. 4th St #22

(appointment only)

Logo of the Arizona registrar of contractors


Arizona Registrar of Contractors is the governing body for contractors in Arizona
Arizona
Class Code and Description
California
Class Code and Description

A

General Engineering

A

General Engineering

A-9

Swimming Pools

C-53

Swimming Pool

A-11

Steel and Aluminum Erection

C-51

Structural Steel

A-12

Sewers, Drains and Pipe Laying

C-42

Sanitation Systems

A-17

Electrical and Transmission Lines

A

General Engineering

A-19

Swimming Pools, Including Solar

C-53

Swimming Pool

A-21

Landscaping and Irrigation Systems

C-27

Landscaping

B

General Residential Contractor

B

General Building

B-1

General Commercial Contractor

B

General Building

B-2

General Small Commercial Contractor

B

General Building

B-3

General Remodeling and Repair Contractor

B

General Building

B-5

General Swimming Pool Contractor

C-53

Swimming Pool

B-6

General Swimming Pool Contractor, Including Solar

C-53

Swimming Pool

C-4

Boilers, Including Solar

C-4

Boiler, Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting

C-4R

Boilers

C-4

Boiler, Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting

C-7

Carpentry

C-5

Framing and Rough Carpentry

C-9

Concrete

C-8

Concrete

C-11

Electrical

C-10

Electrical

C-16

Fire Protection Systems

C-16

Fire Protection

C-17

Structural Steel and Aluminum

C-51

Structural Steel

C-18

Elevators

C-11

Elevators

C-31

Masonry

C-29

Masonry

C-37

Plumbing, Including Solar

C-36

Plumbing

C-37R

Sewers, Drains and Pipe Laying

C-34

Pipeline

C-37R

Plumbing

C-36

Plumbing

C-39

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Including Solar

C-20

Warm-air Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning

C-39R

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

C-20

Warm-air Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning

C-42

Roofing

C-39

Roofing

C-61

Limited Remodeling and Repair

B

General Building

C-68

Mobile Home Remodeling and Repair

C-47

General Manufactured Housing

K-4

Boilers, Steamfitting and Process Piping

C-4

Boiler, Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting

K-7

Carpentry

C-5

Framing and Rough Carpentry

K-9

Concrete

C-8

Concrete

K-11

Electrical

C-10

Electrical

K-12

Elevators

C-11

Elevators

K-16

Fire Protection Systems

C-16

Fire Protection

K-17

Steel and Aluminum Erection

C-51

Structural Steel

K-21

Landscaping and Irrigation Systems

C-27

Landscaping

K-31

Masonry

C-29

Masonry

K-37

Plumbing

C-36

Plumbing

K-39

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

C-20

Warm-air Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning

K-42

Roofing

C-39

Roofing

K-61

Carpentry, Remodeling and Repairs

C-5

Framing and Rough Carpentry

K-61

Carpentry, Remodeling and Repairs

C-6

Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry

K-62

Reinforcing Bar and Wire Mesh

C-50

Reinforcing Steel

K-74

Boilers, Steamfitting and Process Piping, Including Solar

C-4

Boiler, Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting

K-77

Plumbing, Including Solar

C-36

Plumbing

K-79

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Including Solar

C-20

Warm-air Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning

KA

Dual Engineering

A

General Engineering

KA-5

Dual Swimming Pool Contractor

C-53

Swimming Pool

KA-6

Dual Swimming Pool Contractor, Including Solar

C-53

Swimming Pool

KB-1

Dual Building Contractor

B

General Building

KB-2

Dual Residential and Small Commercial

B

General Building

L-4

Boilers, Steamfitting and Process Piping

C-4

Boiler, Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting

L-7

Carpentry

C-5

Framing and Rough Carpentry

L-9

Concrete

C-8

Concrete

L-11

Electrical

C-10

Electrical

L-12

Elevators

C-11

Elevators

L-16

Fire Protection Systems

C-16

Fire Protection

L-31

Masonry

C-29

Masonry

L-37

Plumbing

C-36

Plumbing

L-39

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

C-20

Warm-air Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning

L-42

Roofing

C-39

Roofing

L-49

Commerical, Industrial Refrigeration

C-38

Refrigeration

L-61

Carpentry, Remodeling and Repairs

B
C-5

General Building, or
Framing and Rough Carpentry

L-62

Reinforcing Bar and Wire Mesh

C-50

Reinforcing Steel

L-74

Boilers, Steamfitting and Process Piping, Including Solar

C-4

Boiler, Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting

L-77

Plumbing, Including Solar

C-36

Plumbing

L-79

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Including Solar

C-20

Warm-air Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning

Las Vegas / Henderson

Monday - Friday        8:00am-5:00pm

(702) 486-1100

2310 Corporate Circle Suite 200

Reno

Monday - Friday          8:00am - 5:00pm

(775) 688-1141

5390 Kietzke Lane          Suite 102

Logo of the nevada contractors board. Nevada is apart of the California Contractor license reciprocity agreement

Nevada State Contractors Board

Nevada
Class Code and Description
California
Class Code and Description
AGeneral EngineeringAGeneral Engineering
BGeneral BuildingBGeneral Building
C-1aBoilersC-4Boiler, Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting (Added 5/2003)
C-3Carpentry, Maintenance & Minor Repairs (excluding C-3c Cabinets and Millwork)C-5Framing and Rough Carpentry (Added 5/2003)
C-3aCarpentry, Remodeling and RepairsC-5Framing and Rough Carpentry (Added 5/2003)
C-3bFinish Carpentry (Revised 07/23/2008; formerly C-3c Cabinets and Millwork)C-6Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry (Added 5/2003)
C-2dLow Voltage (Revised 08/19/2008; formerly C-2e Signal Systems)C-7Low Voltage Systems (Added 5/2003)
C-5ConcreteC-8Concrete
C-7Elevation & ConveyanceC-11Elevator (Added 5/2003)
A-16Paving of Street, Driveways and Parking LotsC-12Earthwork and Paving (Added 5/2003)
C-41Fire ProtectionC-16Fire Protection (Added 5/2003)
C-1f
C-21
Heating Cooling & Circulating Air
Refrigeration & Air Conditioning
C-20Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating & Air Conditioning
C-10LandscapingC-27Landscaping
C-18MasonryC-29Masonry
C-4Painting & DecoratingC-33Painting & Decorating
A-15
A-19
A-20
Sewers, Drains & Pipes
Pipeline and Conduits
Industrial Piping
C-34Pipeline (Added 5/2003)
C-17Lathing and PlasteringC-35Lathing and Plastering (Added 5/2003)
C-21aRefrigerationC-38Refrigeration
C-15Roofing & SidingC-39Roofing
A-15Sewers, Drains & PipesC-42Sanitation Systems
C-1e
C-21e
Sheet Metal
Solar Air Conditioning
C-43Sheet Metal
C-6
C-6b
Erecting Signs
Electrical Signs
C-45Electrical Sign
C-37SolarC-46Solar
A-10Swimming PoolsC-53Swimming Pools
C-20TilingC-54Tile (Ceramic & Mosaic)
C-23Drilling WellsC-57Well Drilling
Logo for the Utah Department of Commerce which is the governing agency for contractors in the state of Utah and also part of the california contractor license reciprocity agreement

Utah Department of Commerce

Monday - Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm                                                  (801) 530-6628 

Mailing Address: PO BOX 146741                                                                                                   Salt Lake City, UT 84111-6741

Physical Address: 160 East 300 South                                                                                             Salt Lake City, UT 84111 


Utah
Class Code and Description
California
Class Code and Description
E100General Engineering ContractorAGeneral Engineering
B100General Building ContractorBGeneral Building
R100Residential and Small Commercial ContractorBGeneral Building
S280General Roofing ContractorC-39Roofing
S290General Masonry ContractorC-29Masonry
S320Steel Erection ContractorC-51Structural Steel
S350HVAC ContractorC-20Warm-Air Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning
S360Refrigeration ContractorC-38Refrigeration
S370Fire Suppression Systems ContractorC-16Fire Protection


Conclusion

All out of state contractors looking to get a California contractor license will need to pass the law and business portion of the exam.

California has the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to job site safety, employee rights, workers compensation, insurance, bonding, and financial regulation.

If you are out of state and looking to get licensed in California, it is strongly recommended that you take some time to study California contractor law.

For a more in-depth look, check out this article.

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