Operating a carpentry business or working as a carpenter in Florida requires proper licensing and insurance coverage. This guide provides an overview of the licensing requirements, steps to obtain a new or renew an existing license, reciprocity provisions, and insurance requirements for carpenters and carpentry contractors in Florida.


Carpenters and carpentry contractors in Florida may need to be licensed, depending on the scope and nature of the work they perform. According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), a contractor is defined as any person who constructs, repairs, alters, remodels, adds to, demolishes, subtracts from or improves any building or structure.

If the carpentry work involves structural changes or improvements to a building or dwelling, such as framing, roofing, siding, decking, or finish carpentry, a state contractor license is required. However, minor carpentry jobs like repairs, replacements, and non-structural renovations may be exempt from licensing.

The state issues two types of contractor licenses – certified and registered. A certified license allows the holder to contract statewide, while a registered license limits the holder to specific counties or municipalities. The sections below outline the steps to obtain a new carpentry contractor license or renew an existing license.

Requirements for a Florida Carpentry Contractor License

To qualify for a certified or registered carpentry contractor license in Florida, applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Prove financial stability and responsibility
  • Provide proof of liability and property damage insurance
  • Demonstrate experience in the carpentry trade
  • Pass required exams
  • Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check
  • Demonstrate good moral character

Experience Requirements

Applicants for a carpentry contractor license must document at least 4 years of experience in the trade. This includes:

  • 3 years of proven carpentry experience
  • 1 year of experience as a foreman, supervisor, or manager of carpentry projects

Up to 3 years of active military service or accredited college education can substitute for the required carpentry experience. Applicants must provide detailed descriptions of carpentry projects completed, including dates, locations, costs, and specific duties.


  • Business and Finance Exam – Covers business organization, accounting, finance, risk management, taxes, labor laws, and more.
  • Trade Knowledge Exam – Tests knowledge of carpentry methods, materials, tools, building codes, and construction documents. Available exam references are provided.

Exams are open book and administered by Pearson VUE testing centers. Applicants have 1 year to pass all required exams after applying.

Financial Responsibility

Applicants must submit a credit report showing a minimum FICO score of 660. Those with lower scores must complete a 14-hour financial responsibility course. A surety bond of up to $20,000 may also be required.

Insurance Requirements

Carpentry contractors must carry:

  • Minimum $100,000 in liability insurance
  • Minimum $25,000 in property damage insurance

Or higher policy limits if required by local jurisdictions. Proof of coverage must be provided.

Background Check

A fingerprint-based background screening is required to verify good moral character. Applicants must disclose all past criminal offenses. Certain criminal convictions may disqualify candidates.

Applying for a New Florida Carpentry License

Follow these steps to get a certified or registered carpentry contractor license in Florida:

  1. Determine license type – Certified for statewide practice or registered for specific local jurisdictions.
  2. Establish eligibility – Confirm all licensing criteria are met before applying.
  3. Submit application – File the appropriate application form with DBPR.
  4. Pass exams – Schedule and pass the Business and Finance and Trade Knowledge exams.
  5. Send fingerprint cards – Submit fingerprints for background screening.
  6. Prove insurance coverage – Obtain and verify required liability policies.
  7. Pay license fee – Fees range from $209-$389 depending on license type.
  8. Board review – Applications may be reviewed at a public meeting before approval.
  9. License issuance – If approved, the carpentry license will be issued.

Start early to allow time for processing and testing. It can take 90 days or longer for a new carpentry contractor license application to be approved.

Renewing a Florida Carpentry Contractor License

Carpentry contractor licenses must be renewed every 2 years in Florida. Renewal periods end on August 31 of odd-numbered years for registered licenses and even-numbered years for certified licenses. Requirements include:

  • 14 hours of continuing education, including 1 hour each of workplace safety, business practices, workers compensation, construction laws, and wind mitigation.
  • $209 renewal fee plus $50 per qualified business
  • Updated proof of insurance
  • Financial stability and background check every 3rd renewal

Licensees receive a renewal notification by mail or email 90 days prior to expiration. Renewing online is fastest. Failing to renew by the deadline will nullify the license – requiring reapplication and retesting.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Carpentry Contractors

Carpentry contractors licensed in another state may qualify for a Florida license without retesting by meeting reciprocity or endorsement requirements.


Florida has reciprocity agreements with certain states allowing contractors to obtain an equivalent Florida license if they:

  • Hold a valid license from the reciprocating state
  • Passed comparable licensing exams
  • Have no outstanding disciplinary actions

A list of states with reciprocity agreements is available on the DBPR website. Applicants must submit certification of licensure from their home state.


Contractors licensed out-of-state without reciprocity may qualify for endorsement if they:

  • Hold an active license from another state or jurisdiction
  • Passed similar licensing exams to Florida’s
  • Meet Florida’s current experience requirements

In some cases, additional Florida exams may be required for endorsement. Endorsement approval is not guaranteed and decided on a case-by-case basis.

Bonding Requirements

Licensed carpentry contractors in Florida must obtain a $20,000 surety bond to cover any financial damages resulting from contracting projects. An irrevocable letter of credit for the same amount may substitute the bond requirement.

The surety bond must name the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board as the obligee and be executed by an insurer authorized to issue bonds in Florida. Bonds or letters of credit must remain valid through the end of the current licensure period.

Insurance Requirements

At minimum, licensed carpentry contractors must carry:

  • $100,000 in general liability insurance
  • $25,000 in property damage coverage

Higher policy limits may be required by local jurisdictions. Insurance must cover business activities related to carpentry and any employee injuries. Local permits will require proof of up-to-date insurance.


Carpenters and carpentry contractors planning to perform structural construction, improvement, or repair work on buildings and dwellings in Florida must obtain a state-issued contractor license. Requirements include experience, testing, financial responsibility, insurance, and a clean background check.

Licensed carpenters can work statewide with a certified license or within certain counties/municipalities with a registered license. Key steps to getting a new carpentry contractor license include passing the business and trade exams, proving insurance coverage, and paying all licensing fees. Renewals are needed every 2 years.

Out-of-state carpenters with 10+ years of experience or certain reciprocal licenses may qualify for a Florida license without retesting. All active license holders must maintain the required surety bond and liability insurance.

Following Florida’s licensing procedures and renewal schedules allows carpenters to legally and safely operate carpentry contracting businesses across the state.