Operating as a general contractor in Florida requires obtaining the proper license from the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). This guide provides an overview of the licensing process, including eligibility requirements, how to apply, and key steps for renewal. We’ll also cover reciprocity with other states, bonding requirements, and insurance rules.

Introduction to Licensed General Contracting in Florida

Florida issues two main types of state contractor licenses – certified and registered.

  • A certified license allows a contractor to operate statewide without needing to meet additional local licensing requirements. Certified licenses are designated by an occupation code starting with “C”.

  • A registered license is more restrictive and only allows a contractor to work in certain jurisdictions. Registered licenses are designated by an occupation code starting with “R”.

There are several license classifications for general contracting:

  • General Contractor (CG/RG) – This license has an unlimited scope regarding the type of work that can be performed. At least one year of experience constructing structures four stories or higher is required. Experience in four specific categories is also required.

  • Building Contractor (CB/RB) – This license is limited to commercial buildings or residential buildings up to three stories. It also covers remodeling, repairs, and improvements to any size structure.

  • Residential Contractor (CR/RR) – This license is limited to residential buildings up to two stories in height.

Obtaining licensure first requires meeting eligibility criteria. This includes relevant work experience, passing required exams, meeting financial responsibility standards, and more. We’ll break down these requirements next.

Becoming Eligible for a Florida General Contractor License

To become eligible for a general contractor license in Florida, there are several steps:

Meet Experience Requirements

All contractor licenses require proving four years of relevant experience. For the general contractor licenses, here are some key details on meeting experience requirements:

  • Up to three years can be substituted with an equal number of years of relevant education, such as construction management coursework.

  • Military service can substitute for up to three years of experience as well.

  • The general contractor licenses require one year of experience to be supervisory or managerial in nature.

  • The general contractor license specifically requires at least one year constructing structures four stories or higher.

  • Applicants for the general contractor license must also demonstrate experience in four of the following:

    • Foundations/slabs over 20,000 square feet

    • Masonry walls

    • Steel erection

    • Elevated slabs

    • Reinforced concrete

    • Construction of multi-story structures

Provide Proof of Financial Stability

General contractor applicants must submit a credit report showing a FICO credit score of at least 660.

If the score is lower, applicants can complete a 14-hour financial responsibility course approved by the Construction Industry Licensing Board. They must also obtain a surety bond of $100,000 or irrevocable letter of credit for the same amount made payable to the Board.

Obtain Required Insurance

Active general contractor licensees need to carry:

  • $300,000 in liability insurance
  • $50,000 in property damage insurance

or higher policy limits as specified in Board rules.

Workers’ compensation coverage or an exemption is also mandatory.

Pass Required Exams

Two exams are required:

  • Business and Finance Exam – This is a one-day exam covering business organization, accounting, construction financing, laws and rules, lien laws, workers compensation, OSHA, and more.

  • Trade Knowledge Exam – For the general contractor license, this is a two-day open book exam on topics like plan reading, sitework, estimating, materials, construction techniques, and OSHA safety.

Both exams are administered by Professional Testing Inc. They are offered at various locations around Florida on set dates throughout the year.

With the eligibility requirements met, we can move on to actually applying for a contractor license.

Applying for a New Florida General Contractor License

To obtain a general contractor license in Florida, first determine whether you need a certified or registered license.

For statewide work on unlimited projects, a certified license is required. For work in certain jurisdictions on limited projects, a registered licensed can be obtained.

With this decided, follow these steps to submit a contractor license application with the DBPR:

  1. Complete the license application – Applications can be found on the DBPR website or by contacting their Customer Contact Center. There are separate applications for certified and registered licenses.

  2. Schedule and pass exams – This includes studying materials and registering for required exams through DBPR’s vendor, Professional Testing Inc.

  3. Send application and fee – The application, proof of insurance, surety bond (if applicable), passport photo, and application fee can be mailed or submitted online to the DBPR.

  4. Complete other requests – Fingerprints and any other documentation must also be submitted as requested by the DBPR.

  5. Interview – For certified licenses, an in-person interview may be required as part of the application process.

It takes approximately 60-90 days for the DBPR to process and approve applications. Once approved, contractors can legally begin operating their business.

Renewing a Florida General Contractor License

General contractor licenses must be renewed every two years in Florida. The DBPR sends a notification when the renewal window is open, usually 90-120 days prior to expiration.

To complete the renewal, contractors must:

  • Complete 14 hours of continuing education, including 1 hour each of workplace safety, business practices, workers’ compensation, and laws and rules. For general contractor licenses, 1 hour of wind mitigation training is also required.

  • Pay the renewal fee, which is $205 plus $50 per business qualified.

  • Maintain required insurance coverage.

Continuing education courses must be completed through DBPR-approved providers. Licensees can check their CE hours and renew licenses online through the DBPR website.

Delinquent licenses can be renewed up to two cycles after expiration. However, all continuing education hours for missed renewal cycles must be completed. Delinquent licensees also face additional fees for late renewal.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Licenses

Florida offers two paths to obtain licensure through reciprocity:

1. Reciprocity Agreements

Florida has reciprocity agreements with several states to recognize their contractor licenses. Licensees from these states can apply in Florida by endorsement by providing:

  • A license verification from their home state showing active status
  • Any documentation required by the reciprocity agreement

They must also pay a $100 application fee. However, they do not need to retake Florida’s contractor exams.

2. Substantial Equivalency

Contractors licensed in another state can apply for endorsement by showing:

  • Their home state’s licensing exams were substantially equivalent to Florida’s exam. This is very difficult to demonstrate and rarely approved.

  • They hold a license from a state whose requirements are considered substantially equivalent to Florida’s current requirements. Additional documentation is needed to prove equivalency.

  • Starting in 2019, contractors licensed out-of-state who passed NASCLA’s exams plus a Florida Building Code exam can apply for endorsement after submitting a Florida Business and Finance exam score.

  • Starting in 2020, contractors licensed out-of-state for 10+ years in the same category can apply for endorsement in Florida after passing a 2-hour Florida Building Code course.

Bonding Requirements

Licensed contractors in Florida must obtain either a $100,000 surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit made payable to the Construction Industry Licensing Board. This requirement applies to both individual licensees and the Financially Responsible Officer for a business entity.

The bond or letter of credit must remain valid for at least one year and cover any consumer harm caused by financial mismanagement or misconduct. Obtaining a bond is part of proving financial stability and responsibility as a contractor.

Insurance Requirements

As mentioned in the eligibility section, general contractors in Florida must carry:

  • $300,000 in liability insurance
  • $50,000 in property damage insurance

They must also have current workers’ compensation coverage or an exemption from coverage on file. Licensees cannot practice with an inactive license if they fail to maintain the required insurance policies.


Obtaining a Florida general contractor license requires meeting eligibility criteria, passing exams, proving financial responsibility, and submitting a license application with all fees paid. This guide summarizes the required steps for new applicants to become licensed.

Once licensed, general contractors in Florida must comply with continuing education requirements to renew their license every two years. Reciprocity pathways allow properly licensed contractors from other states to obtain a Florida license as well.

All licensees must maintain surety bonds and adequate insurance to legally operate. Following the steps outlined here will help prospective contractors successfully navigate Florida’s licensing process. With the proper licensure, general contractors can expand their business opportunities and bid on projects across the state.