Texas Contractors License Guide

If you want to work as a contractor in Texas you may need to get a license. The state does not mandate general contractor licenses but your local municipality may have a license requirement. If you’re an electrician, plumber, or HVAC contractor you will need to get a state license.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to get different types of Texas contractors licenses by following a simple step by step process.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Texas Contractors License Requirements

General contractor licenses are issued at the municipal level rather than the state. Other Texas contractor licenses issued at the local level include:

  • Home improvement contractor license
  • Roofing contractors license
  • Specialty contractor license 
  • Right of way contractor license

Other licenses are issued at the state level by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) including:

  • Electrical contractor license
  • HVAC contractor license
  • Water well driller contractor license

The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners issues contractor licenses for plumbers.

Process of Getting a Texas Contractors License

Here are the steps you need to take to get your contractor license in Texas:

Determine license type

The first step to getting your Texas contractor license is to determine which type of license you need. Different license classifications let you perform different kinds of work.

  • Electrical contractors license: This license lets contractors work on electrical systems in or outside a variety of types of structures. There are several classifications including journeyman and master electrician.
  • Plumbing contractors license: This license lets you work on pipes and other components of water supply and heating systems. There are four types of this license including tradesman, journeyman, master, plumbing inspector.
  • HVAC contractor license:  This license lets contractors work on heating and air conditioning projects. It comes in Class A and Class B classifications. Class B contractors are limited to working on units up to 25 tons.

Register business with the secretary of state

Before you can apply for your license, you need to register your business with the Texas Secretary of State. You can find the instructions and complete the application online through the SOS Business Services website. It currently takes the SOS four to five business days to process documents.

You can also apply for your business license by mailing your documents to the Secretary of State’s office. This will delay the process as it currently takes the State over 20 days to process mailed documents.

Along with your state business license, you’ll also need to get a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can apply for the number online and receive it instantly.

Plumbing contractors are exempt from registering their business. Business registration requirements for general contractors will vary depending on the municipality.

Get insurance

Contractors need to obtain general liability insurance to help protect against business risks. The amounts of coverage you need depend on the license type:

  • HVAC contractors: Class A contractors need $300,000 per occurrence for property damage and bodily injury and $600,000 aggregate coverage. Class B contractors need $100,000 per occurrence for property damage and bodily injury and $200,000 aggregate coverage.
  • Electrical contractors: Contractors need $300,000 per occurrence for property damage and bodily injury and $600,000 aggregate coverage.

If your business employs more than one person, you’ll also need to get workers’ compensation insurance coverage issued through a commercial provider or the Texas Department of Insurance.

Get a surety bond

Texas surety bonds are often part of the requirements for getting a professional license. The bonds provide financial protection to the government and consumers and ensure that the licensee complies with all applicable regulations.

While the state does not require contractors to get a surety bond, certain municipalities will. Here is a list of the local jurisdictions that require contractor surety bonds.

  • Abilene
  • Addison
  • Alamo Heights
  • Amarillo
  • Beaumont
  • Bedford
  • Big Spring
  • Bowie
  • Cibolo
  • El Paso
  • Flower Mound
  • Fort Worth
  • Galveston
  • Granbury
  • Groves
  • Haltom City
  • Horizon City
  • Houston
  • Hurst
  • Iowa Park
  • Irving
  • Kerrville
  • Kilgore
  • Kirby
  • Lake Ransom Canyon
  • Lakeway
  • Longview
  • Lubbock
  • Lumberton
  • Merkel
  • Mesquite
  • Midland
  • Nederland
  • Odessa
  • Olmos Park
  • Port Arthur
  • Port Neches
  • Ransom Canyon
  • San Antonio
  • Sherman
  • Tyler
  • Universal City
  • Waco
  • White Oak
  • White Settlement
  • Wichita Falls

The value for Texas contractor license bonds can range from $5,000 to $25,000. Contractors only need to pay a small percentage upfront as a premium, typically between 0.75% and 5%. 

Submit contractor license application

Once you’ve met all the requirements, you are ready to submit your application form. You can find all the necessary paperwork on the licensing authority’s website.

After you fill out the application, gather all requested supporting documents and mail them to the authority with the required application fees.

Mailing address for electricians and HVAC contractors:

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 12157
Austin, Texas 78711

Mailing address for plumbers:

Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners
P.O. Box 4200
Austin, Texas 78765-4200

License Fees

Your application should include the following fees:

  • Electrical contractors: $30 for journeyman, $45 fee for master electrician. Both classifications must also include a $74 exam fee.
  • Plumbing contractors: $40 license and exam fee for journeyman, $175 fee for master.

HVAC contractors need to pay a $115 fee but it is not required until after the application is approved.

Pass license exam

Electrical, HVAC, and Plumbing contractor licenses may require you to pass a knowledge exam after your application is approved. This depends on the classification level of your license. You can check with the appropriate authority to see the specific requirements for any exam you may need to take.

Obtaining a local contractor license

General, home improvement, roofing, specialty, right-of-way contractors may need to get licensed at the local level. You should check with your local authority to see if you need a license based on the type of work you want to perform.

Licensing requirements will vary per location but here are some common obligations you should prepare to fulfill:

  • Getting a contractor license bond
  • Providing proof of education and experience
  • Obtaining general liability and workers compensation insurance
  • Passing a business and knowledge exam
  • Submitting an application form and licensing fee

Texas Contractor License Frequently Asked Questions

How much is a contractor's license in Texas?

Contractors in Texas need to pay an application fee to receive their license. This fee can range from $30 to $175 depending on the type of license and its classification.

How much work can you do without a contractor license in Texas?

Unlike most states, there are no limits to the amount of handyman work you can do in the State of Texas. However, local jurisdictions have their own general contracting regulations which may require you to get a license.

Similarly, all electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians must get a license issued at the state level.

How do you renew your Texas contractor license?

Electrical and HVAC contractors licenses are valid for one year from the date they are issued. To renew your license you’ll need to complete continuing education training and a renewal application form.

Licenses for new plumbing contractors are given a random expiration date ranging between 6 to 18 months.

The process for renewing your general contractor license will depend on the local municipality. Most are valid for a one-year period.

How EZ Surety Bonds Can Help with a Texas Contractors License

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