South Carolina Contractors License Guide

If you want to work as a contractor in South Carolina, you need to get a South Carolina contractor license. The South Carolina Contractor’s Licensing Board and the South Carolina Residential Builders Commission are responsible for overseeing the licensing process.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through all the steps required for you to get your South Carolina contractors license.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What are the requirements to obtain a South Carolina contractors license?

Contractors engaged in general construction must get a contractor license. The State of South Carolina defines general construction as any work involving “the installation, replacement, or repair of a building, structure, highway, sewer, grading, asphalt or concrete paving, or improvement of any kind to real property.”

Process of getting a South Carolina contractors license

Determine license type

The first step to getting your South Carolina contractors license is to determine what type of license you need. 

  • Residential Specialty Contractors License: This license is also issued by the SCRBC. It lets contractors work in specialty trades such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, carpentry, masonry, and more.

Register your business

Before you apply for your license you need to register your business with the South Carolina Secretary of State.

You also need to get a state tax registration from the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

If you plan to have any employees, you’ll also need to get a Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can apply online on the IRS website and receive your EIN instantly. 

Get a surety bond

All South Carolina contractors need to get a South Carolina surety bond to be eligible for a license. The bonds provide financial protection to the government and consumers for any damages that result from the contractor’s work.

The required bond amount depends on the license type and classification

General Contractors

  • Group 1: $20,000
  • Group 2: $80,000
  • Group 3: $200,000
  • Group 4: $350,000
  • Group 5: $500,000

Mechanical Contractors

  • Group 1: $7,000
  • Group 2: $20,000
  • Group 3: $40,000
  • Group 4: $80,000
  • Group 5: $400,000

The bond amount for licenses issued through the SCRBC are as follows:

  • Residential Builders Contractor Bond: $15,000
  • Licensed Residential Specialty Contractor Bond: $10,000
  • Registered Specialty Contractor Bond: $5,000

You don’t need to pay the entire amount to receive the bond. Instead, you only need to pay a small percentage of the total amount as a premium. This is typically between 0.75% and 5% for South Carolina contractor license bonds. The exact premium you’ll pay will vary depending on your industry experience, credit score, financial standing, and other factors.

Pass license exam

The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation requires all contractors to pass a business and law exam prior to sending in their application. The exams are administered by PSI exams.

You can learn more about the details by visiting the Commercial Contractor Candidate Information Bulletin

After you pass the exam, you need to include a copy of your scores with your application.

Submit application

After you pass the exam, you are ready to submit your license application. You can find the application forms on the licensing agency’s website.

General & Mechanical Contractors License Application

Residential Builder and Specialty Contractors Application

Once you complete the forms, you need to gather all supporting documents and the appropriate license and registration fees.

  • General and mechanical contractor license: $350
  • Residential builder and specialty contractor license (building, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC): $100 application fee, $160 licensing fee for a full licensing period
  • Other specialty contractors licenses: $100 registration fee

You can then mail the packet to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Mailing address:

South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 11329
Columbia, S.C. 29211

South Carolina contractor license frequently asked questions

How long does it take to get a contractors license in South Carolina?

The Residential Builders Commission takes seven to ten business days to process residential builder and specialty contractor license applications.

How often must a contractor renew their license?

Licenses for general contractors expire on October 31 of every even-numbered year. Licenses for mechanical contractors expire October 31 of every odd-numbered year.

How EZ Surety Bonds can help with a South Carolina contractors license

When you’re ready to get your South Carolina contractor license, EZ Surety can issue your contractor license surety bond online instantly.

Applying is quick, easy, and affordable. Get started today to begin your journey as a licensed contractor.