Carpenters in New Mexico must be licensed by the state in order to legally operate. Licensure ensures carpenters meet minimum standards of training and experience and helps protect consumers. Depending on the type of carpentry work being performed, carpenters may need to obtain a residential or general contractor license. Licensure requires passing exams, meeting experience requirements, and maintaining insurance and bonding. This comprehensive guide covers everything New Mexico carpenters need to know about getting and maintaining the proper licensing.

Requirements for Becoming a Licensed Carpenter in New Mexico

In New Mexico, carpenters are considered contractors and must be licensed by the Construction Industries Division. The license required depends on the scope of work being performed:

  • Residential carpenters performing work on single family dwellings and structures up to three stories fall under the GB-2 residential contractors classification.
  • Carpenters working on larger commercial projects and multi-family dwellings four stories and above require the GB-98 general building classification.

To qualify for either license, the following is required:

  • Proof of two to four years of experience in the trade, depending on classification. This can be demonstrated through W-2s, resumes, letters of reference, etc.
  • Passing the trade exam in the appropriate category. This covers building codes, construction methods, and OSHA safety.
  • Passing the business and law exam, which covers licensing laws, lien laws, estimating, contracting, and business practices.
  • General liability insurance of at least $300,000.
  • Bond of $10,000 minimum for residential or $25,000 for general building contractors.

Steps to Obtain a New Carpenter’s License in New Mexico

Follow these steps to get licensed as a residential or commercial carpenter in New Mexico:

  1. Document required experience in the trade (2-4 years).
  2. Register and schedule exams through PSI Exams online or by phone. The trade exam is $72, business and law exam is $72.
  3. Study using provided reference materials and pass both exams.
  4. Submit completed license application to CID with proof of exams, experience, GL insurance, and bond.
  5. Licensing fee is $400 for residential, $450 for general building contractor.
  6. Verify license application is approved and license issued, which takes 10-15 business days.
  7. Once approved, contractor can legally bid, contract, and perform carpenter work in NM.

Steps to Renew a Carpenter’s License in New Mexico

Carpenter licenses must be renewed every three years in New Mexico. Renewal requirements include:

  • 14 hours of CID-approved continuing education courses.
  • Minimum insurance levels met and bond maintained.
  • Renewal fee of $400 residential or $450 general building contractor.
  • License renewal application submitted up to 90 days prior to expiration.
  • Late renewals up to 1 year past expiration require $10/month late fee.

Reciprocity with Other States

New Mexico does not have direct reciprocity for carpenter contractor licensing with any other states. To obtain a New Mexico license, carpenters licensed in other states must document equivalent experience requirements were met in that state and pass the New Mexico trade and business/law exams.

License Bond Requirements

All licensed contractors in New Mexico must carry a surety bond. Minimum bond amounts are:

  • Residential carpenters – $10,000
  • General building carpenters – $25,000

Bonds can be obtained through insurance providers, bonding companies, or other qualified sureties. The bond must name the licensee as Principal and the Construction Industries Division as Obligee. Bonds must remain valid through the license period.

Insurance Requirements

Licensed carpenters must carry general liability insurance with a minimum of $300,000 in coverage. This must cover business operations and name the State of New Mexico as a certificate holder. Workers’ compensation insurance is also required if the carpenter has any employees. Insurance must remain valid throughout the licensing period.


Becoming a licensed carpenter in New Mexico requires meeting experience requirements, passing two exams, obtaining insurance and bonding, and renewing the license every three years. Following the proper steps for licensing outlined above helps ensure carpenters have the qualifications to provide quality work and maintain compliance with regulations. Consumers can verify licensing of any contractor through the Construction Industries Division.