General contractors in Hawaii are required to hold a state-issued license to perform any commercial, residential, or public works construction projects valued at over $1,000 or that require a building permit. Licenses are issued by the Contractors License Board under the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Professional and Vocational Licensing Division.

There are two main types of general contractor licenses in Hawaii:

  • Class A – General Engineering Contractor: For large construction projects like highways, bridges, dams, airports, sewer systems, and other infrastructure requiring specialized engineering knowledge.

  • Class B – General Building Contractor: For constructing structures involving more than two unrelated trades, like commercial buildings and residential homes.

Obtaining a contractor’s license in Hawaii involves meeting experience and exam requirements, as well as maintaining insurance coverage. Licenses must be renewed every two years.

This guide covers the steps to obtain a new general contractor’s license in Hawaii, as well as how to renew an existing license. It also includes details on license reciprocity, bonding, and insurance requirements.

Requirements for a New General Contractor License

To obtain a new general contractor license in Hawaii, individuals must meet eligibility requirements, pass required exams, and submit an application with all documentation to the Contractors License Board.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a Hawaii general contractor license, the following eligibility requirements must be met:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a good reputation for honesty, truthfulness, financial integrity, and fair dealing
  • Have at least 4 years of supervisory experience in the classification within the past 10 years
  • Be employed by a licensed contracting entity or applying as a sole proprietor
  • Be a U.S. citizen, national, or authorized alien
  • Provide a complete credit report showing financial responsibility

Supervisory experience must be documented with certificates from qualified persons like employers, fellow employees, or journeymen. A chronological history of projects must also be submitted.


Once approved by the Board, the applicant must pass a two-part licensing exam within 6 months:

  • Part I – Business and Law Exam: Tests knowledge of Hawaii contracting laws and rules.

  • Part II – Trade Exam: Tests field knowledge in the specific classification.

Exams are administered by Prometric testing centers.

License Application

To apply for a contractor’s license, the following must be submitted:

  • Completed application form
  • $50 nonrefundable application fee
  • Experience certificates
  • Chronological history of projects
  • Credit report
  • Entity appointment letter (if employed by a contracting entity)

Applications must be received by the first Tuesday of the month to be reviewed during the following month’s meeting. Incomplete applications will delay processing.

Once approved, applicants have 6 months to pass the licensing exams. After passing, they must submit:

  • License fee
  • Proof of liability and workers’ compensation insurance
  • License bond (if required by the Board)

Upon meeting all requirements, the Contractors License Board will issue the license.

Renewing a Hawaii General Contractor License

General contractor licenses in Hawaii must be renewed every two years by September 30 of each even-numbered year.

Renewal Requirements

To renew an active general contractor license, the following must be submitted:

  • Renewal application form
  • Renewal fee
  • Tax clearance from DOTAX (contracting entities and sole proprietors only)
  • Proof of liability and workers’ comp insurance

Inactive licenses only need to submit the application and renewal fee.

Late renewals can be submitted up to 60 days after expiration, but a penalty fee applies.

Renewal Fees

Renewal fees are:

  • Contracting Entity: $338 (active), $160 (inactive)
  • Sole Proprietor: $338 (active), $160 (inactive)
  • RME: $208 (active), $160 (inactive)

Restoring a Forfeited License

Licenses not renewed within 60 days after expiration are forfeited. To restore a forfeited license:

  • Submit a restoration application within 60 days of forfeiture
  • Pay restoration fee
  • Provide tax clearance and insurance

After 60 days, a forfeited license cannot be restored and a new application must be submitted.

License Reciprocity in Hawaii

Hawaii does not have reciprocity agreements with any other states for contractor licensing. All applicants must meet Hawaii’s eligibility requirements, pass the required exams, and submit a new license application.

However, applicants licensed in another state can provide proof of that license to potentially substitute some of Hawaii’s experience requirements. Exams are still required.

Bond Requirements

The Contractors License Board may require a $1,000 to $100,000 surety bond as a condition of licensure, based on financial stability and past issues.

If required, the surety bond must be submitted after passing exams but before the license will be issued. Bond requirements are reviewed upon renewal.

Insurance Requirements

General contractors in Hawaii must maintain general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. Proof of current coverage must be provided:

  • Upon initial license application
  • Upon license renewal
  • If policies expire before the license expiration date

Failure to maintain insurance will result in automatic forfeiture of the license.


General contractors in Hawaii must hold a state-issued license and maintain insurance coverage to perform construction projects over $1,000.

Licensing involves meeting experience requirements, passing two exams, and submitting an application with all documentation to the Contractors License Board. Licenses must be renewed every two years.

Key steps in the Hawaii general contractor licensing process include:

  • Meeting eligibility requirements like experience, reputation, and financial responsibility
  • Passing the business/law and trade exams
  • Submitting a new license application with fees, documentation, and proofs of insurance
  • Maintaining insurance coverage
  • Renewing license biennially before expiration, including paying renewal fees

Understanding Hawaii’s licensing process and requirements allows general contractors to successfully obtain and maintain their license to legally operate in the state.