how to get a California painting contractor license in California with no social security

How To Get A Painting License Without A Social Security!

Table of Contents

California has made it easier than ever to get a painting license after the signing of Senate Bill 1159 into law on January 1st, 2016. Before the law was passed, it was a requirement for all licensed contractors to have a Social Security number.

This law applies to all 73 contractor license classifications available in California including the General Contractor and General Engineering Contractor Licenses.

a man painting a house standing on top of a roof

What Is Senate Bill 1159? 

No later than January 1, 2016, in accordance with Section 135.5, a board, as defined in Section 22, and the State Bar and the Bureau of Real Estate shall require either the individual taxpayer identification number or social security number if the applicant is an individual for purposes of this subdivision” – www.legislature.ca.gov

The main takeaways from the legislation are that:

  • Anyone can apply for a Contractor License if you have a Social Security or ITIN #
  • If you do not have a Social Security or ITIN # and are caught by the CSLB, you will get reported to the IRS
logo of the contractors state license board. image features a hand saw, paint brush and cement truck with the letters CSLB above in white

What is an ITIN # 

Logo of the IRS, anyone applying for a painting license in california must have an ITIN number issued by the IRS


  • Individual Tax Payer Identification
  • Tax Processing Number for Non-Citizens

Social Security #

  • Tax Processing Number for Citizens 
  • Permanent Residents  
  • Temporary Working Residents 


  • Employer Identification Number
  • Tax Processing Number for Businesses

How To Get an ITIN #

To get an ITIN Number you can:

C-33 Painting License Requirements

A painter hanging from a chord painting a building wall. To get the C-33 painting license in california you have to meet basic requirements

Although you no longer need a social security number to apply for the painting license, there are requirements set by the Contractors State License Board that you have to meet before you are eligible to take the test.

The C-33 License for painting contractors is one of 73 different licenses in the state of California. Requirements are the same for all classifications.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be 18 Years or Older
  • Not currently on Probation or Parole
  • Have a Driver's License or form of ID issued by the USA
  • Have 4 Years of journey-level experience gained AFTER your 18th birthday
  • Have either a valid ITIN  or Social Security number

How Long Does It Take To Get a Painting Contractor License in California?

The Quickest way to get your painting contractor license is by having all your paperwork in order before you apply:

  • Identification, Social Security, or ITIN #
  • Copies of check stubs, receipts, tax returns, or any verification of your work experience
  • Criminal Records and Court Documents
  • Copies of Degrees, Certifications, or Transcripts
  • Fill out your application correctly 
  • Pass The Exam on your first try!

You are looking at about a 90-day process whether you have social security or ITIN #.

There is no preference for applicants with a social over applicants with an ITIN #. The CSLB might take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to process your application and send you a test date.

Your test date is anywhere from 2-4 weeks after receiving notification from the CSLB.

The Contractors State License Board will only communicate with you via mail, so be wary of any correspondence from Contractor License Schools pretending to be government affiliated.


A man getting handcuffs put on him. contracting in california without a painting license, ITIN or Social Security number can expose you to several charges

At this point, if you are bidding on large projects and do not have an ITIN # or Contractor license, you are taking a huge risk not only legally but also financially.

Getting caught contracting without a license can result in fines of up to $15,000 and up to 6 months in jail. Contracting without social security or ITIN # can expose you to an investigation by the IRS and possible federal prison sentences.

California is making every attempt to encourage contractors to do things the right way. 

For information on how to get started, check out this Complete Guide to the C-33 Painting License in California.

If you are just starting out in the construction industry and are looking for direction on where to begin, check out this article: Apprentice vs Journeyman. Drop us a message and leave a comment if you have found this information helpful! And be sure to check back for updates!