What is the CSLB?
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing agency for construction contractors in the state of California.
The CSLB’s responsibility is to protect the interests of the consumer public by requiring that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is licensed and bonded.
A question we get often is “do i need a CSLB license?”.
Typically the answer to that question is yes.
There are circumstances where your particular trade does not fall under the jurisdiction of the CSLB or perhaps you are under the $500 limit… but it is always smart to double check, to be safe.
All of the following entities must be licensed in California:
- Contractor Businesses
How do I contact the CSLB?
You can contact the Contractor's State License Board in a number of different ways. In my experience, it can be difficult to get in touch with someone directly, but here is the information you will need:
Contractors State License Board9821 Business Park DriveSacramento, CA 95827
P.O. Box 26000Sacramento, CA 95826
24 Hour Licensing and Consumer Information:
Hours of operation
Monday through Friday8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time(closed holidays)
How do I check a Contractor's License in California?
The best way to check a current contractor license number is to use the CSLB's tool available on their website, which you can find here
The tool is typically unavailable on Sundays 8pm through Monday 6am due to scheduled maintenance. It is quite accurate and is an excellent resource for homeowners or employees looking to check the license number of a California contractor.
If you are in the process of applying for a license, you can check your application status using the system on the CSLB website
CSLB Forms that you need
- Application for Original Contractor license
- Certification of Work Experience
- Owner-Builder B-General Building Construction Project Experience
- Construction Project Experience
- Disclosure Statement Regarding Criminal Plea/Conviction
Licenses and Certifications offered
The Contractors State License Board currently offers 73 different contractor license classifications. Each license covers a specific area of construction expertise.
Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:
- 1A-General Engineering
- 2B-General Building
- 3C-Specialty Classifications
- 4C-61 / D-Limited Specialty Classifications
Each classification except those listed under the C-61/D-limited specialty class requires a construction trade exam in addition to the Contractor LAW EXAM.
Filling out the CSLB application can actually be a bit complicated if you are unsure of how it works. This post breaks down the most common mistakes contractors make when applying to the CSLB
First established in 1929 as the Contractor License Bureau, the agency began to develop vocational and construction standards in the state of California.
Now the CSLB operates under the California Department of consumer affairs. The CSLB headquarters is in Sacramento, but they have offices all over the state.
The leadership of the CSLB is made up of a 15-member board that appoints an executive officer. The board is also responsible for directing administrative policy for the agency’s operations.
Appointments are made directly by the Governor. The CSLB operates on a $60 million annual budget and is made up of 400 employees around the state of California.
Home Improvement Sales Person
Home Improvement Sales is regulated by the CSLB
The CSLB also requires home improvement salespeople to be registered with the state.
Anyone engaged in soliciting, selling, or executing contracts involving home improvement must complete Home Improvement Salesperson registration.
The goal of regulating every aspect of the construction industry is to protect the consumer as much as possible.
How To Get a Contractor License in California
To get a contractor license in California, you must first have 4 years journey level experience to qualify for an exam date.
You can then submit an application to the CSLB and wait to be given a test day.
After passing the exam and activating your bond, you may begin legally contracting in the state of California.
For a more in-depth look at the contractor licensing process, check out some of our other articles. The basic requirements for licensing are:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a valid Driver's License or USA Issued Identification
- Have a Social Security or ITIN #
- Not Currently be on probation or parole
- Pass the Contractor License Exam
Penalties for Contracting without a License
Contracting without a license in California can get you hit with a $15,000 fine and up to 6 months in the county jail in some cases.
If you have the experience and are actively bidding on projects, just get the license.
It is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your clients, as well as position yourself as the authority and the professional.
The CSLB conducts sting operations.
The statewide investigative fraud team (SWIFT) is a wing of the CSLB dedicated to setting up sting operations targeting unlicensed contractors.
The public can report unlicensed activity, building permit complaints, and even unlicensed advertising throughout the state of California to SWIFT.
The agency then sets up a meeting with the contractor to come to place a bid, at which point the contractor is apprehended, given a fine and ordered to appear in court.
Locations and Offices
9821 Business Park DriveSacramento, CA 95827
1277 East Alluvial Ave. Suite 106Fresno, CA 93720
301 Junipero Serra Blvd. Suite 206San Francisco, CA 94127
12501 East Imperial Hwy. Suite 620Norwalk, CA 90650
1845 Business Center Dr. Suite 206San Bernardino, CA 92408
9246 Lightwave Ave. Suite 130San Diego, CA 92123
28480 Avenue Stanford Suite 120Valencia, CA 91355
100 N. Barranca St. Suite 300West Covina, CA 91791
Can I renew my Contractor License online?
Yes. The CSLB allows all licensees to renew online here
For sole owners. These are the current fees:
Currently, this process is only available for sole ownership licenses without a responsible managing employee (RME).
Renewal Fees (A 2.99 % processing fee will be added to renew online)
|Active Renewal (Late)||$675*|
|Inactive Renewal (Late)||$337.50|