Carpenters make up a vital part of Virginia’s construction industry. As skilled tradesmen, carpenters are responsible for a wide range of woodworking and building tasks including framing, installing trim and finishes, building forms for concrete, erecting scaffolding, and more.

In order to legally operate as a carpenter in Virginia, individuals must obtain the proper state-issued contractor’s license. Virginia offers licenses specifically for carpenters and carpenter contractors under the ‘Residential Building Contractor’ classification.

Obtaining a state-issued contractor’s license ensures carpentry professionals have met specific education, experience, and examination requirements. Licenses also help legitimize carpentry businesses and provide recourse options for homeowners in the event of disputes.

This comprehensive guide will cover the following topics related to licensing for Virginia carpenters:

  • License types and classifications
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Steps to obtain a new carpenter’s license
  • License renewal process
  • Reciprocity
  • Bond requirements
  • Insurance requirements

Understanding the ins and outs of licensing and insurance requirements is crucial for carpenters looking to legally and successfully operate in Virginia.

License Types and Classifications for Carpenters in Virginia

In Virginia, carpentry work falls under the ‘Residential Building Contractor’ license classification. This classification covers contractors who construct, remodel, or repair single and multi-family residential buildings. It includes those doing home improvement work as well.

Within this broad classification, there are three license types available based on the value of projects the contractor plans to complete:

  • Class A – No limit on project size or value. 5 years relevant experience required.
  • Class B – Limited to projects up to $120,000. 3 years relevant experience required.
  • Class C – Limited to projects up to $10,000. 2 years relevant experience required.

Class A licenses are best suited for large carpentry contractors and construction firms looking to bid on and complete residential projects of any size. Class B and C licenses allow smaller contractors, including solo carpenters, to legally operate while limiting project size.

The license class dictates the annual revenue cap as well. For example, a Class B license holder cannot accumulate more than $750,000 in gross revenue from contracting work per year.

Carpenter contractors must carefully consider their project pipeline when selecting a license type. Working out of class is considered a violation.

Eligibility Requirements for Carpenter Licenses

In addition to selecting an appropriate license class, carpenter contractors in Virginia must meet the following eligibility requirements:


  • Demonstrate relevant work experience in the specialty for the number of years dictated by license class
  • Experience must meet the description of carpentry activities as defined in the Board for Contractors regulations
  • Experience must be documented in detail on the license application


  • Pass the appropriate technical exam for the residential building specialty
  • Class A and B licenses also require passing the General and Virginia examinations


  • Complete the 8-hour pre-license education course approved by the Board

Identify a Qualified Individual

  • Must designate a qualified individual (QI) for each license specialty
  • QI must have minimum experience described above for license class
  • Must pass applicable exam and hold any other required trade certifications

Business Entity

  • Licenses are issued to a business entity, not an individual
  • Sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, corporations, etc are acceptable


  • Fully complete the license application including all required supplemental documentation
  • Submit non-refundable license fee

Meeting these requirements fully qualifies carpenters to obtain a state-issued contractor’s license.

Steps to Obtain a New Carpenter’s License in Virginia

Follow these key steps when applying for a new carpenter contractor’s license in Virginia:

1. Establish a business entity

Form a recognized business entity such as a LLC or corporation. Register with the State Corporation Commission if applicable.

2. Select a license class

Choose Class A, B, or C based on project size and annual revenue limitations.

3. Identify qualified individual(s)

Designate 1+ qualified individuals who meet experience requirements and can pass exams.

4. Complete pre-license education

Take the 8-hour pre-license course from an approved education provider.

5. Submit license application and fee

Fill out the tradesmen application fully and submit along with the non-refundable license fee.

6. Pass examinations

The QI and designated employee (Class A/B) must pass the required license exams.

Once approved, the contractor’s license will be mailed out. Licenses must be displayed prominently when advertising or conducting business.

Key Details on License Exams and Fees

When applying for a residential building contractor’s license, carpentry professionals must pass 1 or more exams.

  • The QI must pass the technical exam relevant to the residential building specialty. This covers codes, standards, regulations and more.
  • For Class A/B licenses, the designated employee must pass the General and Virginia exams on business knowledge, laws, and regulations.
  • Exams may be taken at an approved provider testing location. Study materials are available.
  • Exam fees are paid directly to the exam provider and are not included with the license application.

The license application fees for carpenters are as follows:

  • Class C: $230
  • Class B: $345
  • Class A: $360

The fee must accompany the mailed application and is non-refundable.

License Renewal for Virginia Carpenters

Carpenter contractor’s licenses must be renewed every two years prior to the expiration date. To renew, the following requirements must be met:

  • Submit a completed renewal application form
  • Pay the renewal fee
    • Class C – $172
    • Class B – $217
    • Class A – $227
  • The QI and Designated Employee (Class A/B only) must complete at least 8 hours of continuing education. Approved courses cover building code updates, business practices, workplace safety, and more.

The renewal fee is lower than the initial license fee but the continuing education requirement must be met. Licenses that expire are inactivated until renewal is completed. Contracting work cannot be legally performed with an inactive license.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Carpenter Contractors

Virginia does NOT have direct license reciprocity for carpenters with any other state. To obtain a Virginia carpenter’s license, all contractors must meet the experience, education, and exam requirements described, regardless of current licensure status in another state.

However, possessing an active license in certain states may allow some requirements to be waived:

  • License holders from states using the NASCLA Accreditation Study Guide may have the trade exam requirement waived
  • Holding a NCCER credential may allow for certain experience requirements to be waived

While reciprocity does not exist, these exemptions can ease the process for licensed out-of-state carpenters seeking a Virginia license. Checking with the Board for Contractors is advised.

License Bond Requirements

All licensed carpenter contractors in Virginia must carry a $10,000 Class B surety bond. This bond helps protect consumers by allowing them to be compensated if a dispute or claim arises with the contractor. Multiple specialty licenses require multiple bonds.

There are a few ways carpenters can meet the bond requirement:

  • Purchase the full bond from an authorized surety company
  • Participate in the state bond pool which requires only a $200 deposit per year. Multiple license holders can be listed.

Bonds or bond pool participation must be listed on and submitted with the initial license application. Evidence of renewal is required when renewing the license.

Insurance Requirements for Virginia Carpenters

Licensed carpenter contractors must also carry a minimum of $250,000 in commercial general liability insurance. This protects their business against claims for property damage or bodily injury caused by the company or employees.

Like bonding, proof of insurance must be submitted with the license application and also shown when renewing. Insurance must remain active, so contractors must provide updated proof if policies are changed or cancelled and replaced.

Virginia does not mandate workers’ compensation coverage but it is highly recommended to protect employees in the event of a workplace injury.


Establishing and maintaining an active carpenter’s license, bond, and insurance is crucial for legally and safely operating in Virginia’s construction industry. Understanding the license classifications, eligibility steps, application process, and renewal requirements allows carpenters to fully comply with state regulations.

Keeping trade knowledge, business practices, and compliance requirements up to date through continuing education demonstrates a carpenter’s dedication to professional growth. Meeting Virginia’s stringent licensing standards provides reassurance to consumers and helps position carpentry contractors for success.