How to Get an Iowa Contractor License

If you want to work as a contractor in the State of Iowa you will likely need to get a contractor license. The Iowa Division of Labor requires construction workers and other types of contractors to be licensed at the state level.

In this post, we will go through the different licensing requirements and how you can get an Iowa contractor license.

iowa contractor

Iowa contractor license qualifications

Iowa contractors must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a license:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a social security number 
  • Have an unemployment insurance number (UI)

Process of getting an Iowa contractor license

Step 1: Determine license type

The first step to becoming a licensed contractor in Iowa is to determine what type of license you need. There are two types of licenses available, each permitting you to perform a specific kind of work. This includes:

Construction Contractor License: This license is essentially a general contractor license. It lets contractors work on projects involving general construction work as well as roofing, painting, plumbing, landscaping, electrical, and more.

Contractor (Plumbing and Mechanical) License: This license lets contractors work on projects involving plumbing, mechanical, HVACR, sheet metal, or hydronic systems services.

Step 2: Register your business

Unlike most states, Iowa does not require a general business license for any organization that operates in the state. Whether or not you need to get a business license or permit will depend on the precise nature of your business.

You can visit the Iowa Source Link website to see what registration requirements you need to complete.

License or not, you will need to register for a tax identification number with the Iowa Department of Revenue.

Step 3: Obtain insurance

There are several types of insurance you must get before applying for your Iowa contractor license.

First, you will need to get liability insurance with a minimum of $500,000 of coverage.

If your business has employees you must also get workers’ compensation insurance. You can choose to get your policy through a commercial carrier or the Iowa Workforce Development’s workers’ compensation program.

Step 4: Get a surety bond

Several municipalities in Iowa require contractors to post a surety bond as part of the licensing process. The bonds help ensure that contractors adhere to all licensing regulations and allow the government and public to seek financial compensation for damages caused by the contractor.

The required bond amount for Iowa contractor license bonds varies depending on the location. Below are the required amounts for a few bonds:

  • Sioux City General Building Contractor Bond: $10,000
  • Bettendorf Contractor Bond: $10,000
  • Eldridge Contractor Bond: $10,000
  • Davenport Street Sewer Contractor Bond: Varies

Additionally, if you are an out-of-state contractor, you must get a $25,000 surety bond issued at the state level.

To get your bond, you will need to pay a small percentage of the required amount as a premium. This is typically between 1% and 5% but varies depending on individual qualifications.

Step 5: Pass a knowledge test

Contractors applying for any of the following trade licenses must pass a knowledge exam to get their license:

  • Master & Journeyperson Plumbing
  • Master & Journeyperson Hydronics
  • Master & Journeyperson HVAC/Refrigeration
  • Master & Journeyperson Mechanical
  • Journeyperson Sheet Metal

You can take the exams at Kirkwood Community College. There is a $35 exam fee per trade.

Step 6: Submit contractor license application

After you register your business and fulfill any bonding requirements, you can go ahead and apply for your Iowa contractor license. 

The application form for the Construction Contractor license is available on the Iowa Workforce Development website.

The application for the trade license is available on the Iowa Department of Public Health website.

Your application forms will need to include various supporting documents to prove that you meet the various requirements. This includes:

  • Documentation of criminal convictions related to professional practice
  • Proof of workers’ compensation insurance
  • Evidence of a permanent place of business
  • Proof of public liability insurance
  • Surety bond form (out of state contractors)

Once everything is ready, you can print and send in your application.

Below are the mailing addresses for submitting your contractor license application:

Construction Contractor

Iowa Division of Labor

Contractor Registration

1000 East Grand Avenue

Des Moines, IA 50319-0209

Phone: 515-242-5871

Fax: 515-725-2427

Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors

321 E. 12th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075

In addition to the application, there are several fees that you need to pay before your license can be approved:

  • Registration Fee: $50 (Self-employed contractors that meet certain criteria may complete fee exemption form)
  • Construction Contractor License Fee: $50
  • Contractor Registration and License: Prorated
  • Examination Fee: $35 per individual trade exam
  • Paper Application Processing Fee: $25

The registration fee is prorated based on how long the license is valid. You can learn more about the various fees on the Workforce Development website.

How EZ Surety Bonds can help with an Iowa contractor’s license

When you are ready to get your Iowa contractor license, EZ Surety Bonds can help you meet any bonding requirement quickly with our online bonding service. Get a quote today or get in touch to learn more.