Carpenters play a vital role in Hawaii’s construction industry. Licensed carpenters are responsible for a wide range of woodworking and construction projects from framing houses to building and installing cabinets and fixtures. Hawaii issues specialty contractor licenses for carpenters, which fall under the Board of Residential and General Contractors.

There are two main carpenter license classifications in Hawaii:

  • C-5: Cabinet, Millwork, and Carpentry Remodeling and Repairs
  • C-6: Carpentry Framing

The C-5 license covers remodeling and repair work like installing cabinets, windows, non-load bearing partitions and wood siding. The C-6 license is focused on structural framing using wood and metal.

Being properly licensed is crucial for carpenters in order to legally operate in Hawaii. It demonstrates that they have the experience, knowledge and skills to safely and competently perform carpentry work. This guide will cover the licensing process, requirements and resources for carpenters in Hawaii.

Requirements for Carpenter Licenses

In order to qualify for a specialty carpenter license in Hawaii, there are several key requirements:


Applicants need to document at least 4 years of full-time supervisory carpentry experience in the last 10 years. This experience must demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and skills in the license classification.

At least 3 notarized certificates must be submitted by qualified individuals like employers, coworkers or foreman attesting to the applicant’s carpentry experience. These certificates must include details of the actual onsite supervisory carpentry work performed.

A chronological history of carpentry projects must also be submitted, outlining work history over the past 10 years. It should include employer information, position title, project details, contract amounts and duration of supervisory experience for each project.


Once experience is approved by the board, applicants must pass two exams:

  • Business and Law Exam – Covers Hawaii contractor laws, rules, liens, regulations, business practices and standards.
  • Trade Exam – Focuses on general carpentry concepts and trade skills like framing, finishing, tools, materials, codes and safety. The exam is tailored to the C-5 or C-6 classification.


The license application involves providing personal information, employment history, project experience details, and application fee. Applications must be received by the board on or before the first Tuesday of the month prior to the scheduled board meeting.


The application fee is $50. Exam fees are $75 per part. Once licensed, fees range from $334-$663 annually depending on type.


Applicants must have valid general liability insurance as well as workers compensation insurance for employees. Proof must be provided once all other requirements are met.

Obtaining a New Carpenter License

Here is an overview of the step-by-step process to obtain a new carpenter specialty contractor license in Hawaii:

  1. Determine classification – Decide whether to apply for the C-5 or C-6 license based on experience and scope of carpentry work.
  2. Document experience – Gather detailed information on at least 4 years of full-time supervisory carpentry experience in the last 10 years. Obtain notarized certificates from qualified individuals attesting to this experience.
  3. Compile project history – Create a chronological project history list outlining carpentry work over the past 10 years. Include employer, position, project details, contract amounts and duration of supervisory work.
  4. Submit application – Complete the license application with all required information, documentation and the $50 application fee. This must be received by the licensing board on or before the first Tuesday of the month prior to the scheduled meeting.
  5. Exams – Once approved, register and pay exam fees to take the Business and Law Exam and the Trade Exam. Exams must be passed within 6 months of application approval.
  6. Fulfill requirements – After passing the exams, submit licensing fees, proof of general liability and workers compensation insurance coverage.
  7. Issuance – The carpenter specialty contractor license will be issued upon meeting all requirements.

It is important to review the board’s website and publications like the exam bulletin for updates and full details on currently required forms, documents, fees and procedures when applying.

Renewing a Carpenter License

Carpenter licenses in Hawaii must be renewed every 2 years by September 30th on even-numbered years. Renewal notices are sent 45 days prior to the expiration date.

Renewal Requirements

  • Active licensees must submit the renewal application form and renewal fee.
  • Entities and sole proprietors must also provide a current tax clearance from the Department of Taxation.
  • Updated proof of liability insurance and workers compensation may be required.


Renewal fees are $338 for entities/sole proprietor or $208 for RME carpenter licenses.

Restoration fees for renewing expired licenses within 60 days of expiration are $388 for entities/sole proprietor or $258 for RME carpenter licenses.

Online Renewal

Carpenter licenses can be conveniently renewed online through the MyPVL system typically available 60-90 days prior to the expiration date.

Keeping licenses active ensures carpenters remain legally compliant to perform work in Hawaii. Fulfilling renewal requirements and submitting payments on time avoids disruptions.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Carpenters

Hawaii does not have reciprocity agreements with other states for contractor licensing. All carpenter license applicants must meet the same eligibility criteria, testing requirements, application procedures and fees regardless of existing licensure in another state.

However, properly documented out-of-state carpentry experience may be accepted toward Hawaii’s 4 year supervisory experience requirement. Applicants must still pass both exams and complete all other application steps.

License Bond Requirements

The licensing board may require license bonds as a condition for issuance, renewal or restoration of a carpenter contractor license. Typically required bond amounts range from $5,000 to $25,000.

If a bond is mandated, it must be submitted and maintained to keep the license valid. Failure to maintain the required bond may lead to forfeiture of the license.

Bonding protects the public against unsatisfied claims or judgments related to negligent, reckless or intentional conduct in the practice of contracting work.

Insurance Requirements

All licensed carpenter contractors in Hawaii must carry general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance.

General Liability Insurance

At minimum, policy limits must provide coverage of:

  • $50,000 per occurrence
  • $100,000 aggregate

Certificates showing proof of sufficient ongoing general liability coverage must be submitted initially before license issuance and upon renewal.

Workers Compensation Insurance

Licensed carpenters with employees must carry a workers compensation insurance policy with the required coverage amounts based on number of employees. Sole proprietors and partnerships without employees are exempt.

Proof of current workers compensation coverage or exemption must be provided prior to license approval and renewal.

Maintaining valid insurance is essential for legal operation. Non-compliance may lead to denial of license issuance or renewal.


Becoming a properly licensed carpenter in Hawaii involves meeting experience requirements, passing exams, submitting application materials and fees, and carrying adequate insurance. Key steps include:

  • Documenting 4 years of recent supervisory carpentry experience with detailed project histories and notarized certificates
  • Passing the Business and Law plus Trade exams
  • Completing the license application process
  • Providing proof of general liability and workers compensation insurance
  • Renewing the specialty carpenter license every 2 years prior to expiration

Fulfilling Hawaii’s carpentry licensing requirements demonstrates extensive experience and expertise. It validates carpenters’ abilities to legally and safely operate carpentry businesses and perform regulated skilled trade work across the state.