Operating a successful landscaping business in Idaho requires proper licensing and insurance. This comprehensive guide will provide landscaping contractors with everything they need to know about becoming licensed, renewing their license, reciprocity with other states, and insurance requirements in Idaho.


Idaho has specific licensing requirements for landscaping contractors under the Idaho Nursery, Florist, & Landscaping License issued by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. Any individual or company that engages in the installation of landscape plants, turf, trees, shrubs, and other horticultural elements is required to hold this state license before starting work.

Becoming a licensed landscaping contractor ensures your business operates legally and reassures customers that you have met the state’s qualifications. Proper licensing also allows you to pull necessary permits for landscaping projects. Holding this license means you can advertise your services as a landscaping contractor.

In addition to licensing, landscaping contractors in Idaho must carry certain insurance policies to protect their business. General liability insurance is required for license holders in order to cover any property damage or bodily injuries that occur on a job site. Workers’ compensation is also mandatory for any contractors with employees.

This guide will walk through all the steps and requirements to become a licensed landscaping contractor in Idaho. It also covers license renewal, reciprocity with other states, and the necessary insurance policies contractors must carry. Having a complete understanding of the licensing and insurance rules will help ensure your landscaping company avoids any violations or penalties.

Requirements for Becoming a Licensed Landscaping Contractor in Idaho

To become a licensed landscaping contractor in Idaho, individuals must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Pass a background check
  • Establish a unique business name (DBA) and address
  • Provide a current government-issued ID
  • Pay the $100 licensing fee

Meeting the age requirement ensures the applicant has reached the minimum age to operate a business according to Idaho state law. Candidates must provide a copy of a current government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport as proof of age.

The background check is also a standard eligibility component. The Idaho State Department of Agriculture will perform a full review of the applicant’s history to identify any criminal convictions or other red flags. Previous felony charges or fraud may disqualify candidates from receiving the landscaping contractor license.

Applicants must register a unique Doing Business As (DBA) name that will identify their landscaping company. This shouldn’t duplicate another active business identity in Idaho. They must also provide the physical or mailing address that will be associated with their contractor business. This address will be listed on the state’s registry of license holders.

Finally, candidates must pay the standard $100 licensing fee to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture to cover admin costs for reviewing the application and issuing the license. This fee must be paid upfront before the license can be approved and active.

Companies with multiple employees doing landscaping work need only one active landscaping contractor license. However, there must be a qualified supervisor on each landscaping job site while work is being performed to ensure proper oversight. Uncertified employees should always be supervised by someone holding a landscaping contractor license.

Exam Requirements

There is no exam requirement to become a licensed landscaping contractor in Idaho. Applicants only need to meet the eligibility criteria of age, background check, unique business ID, address, and fee payment.

The state does not currently require landscaping contractor candidates to pass any type of knowledge or skills assessment through an exam. The assumption is that candidates will obtain the proper landscaping education, training and experience needed to operate successfully and safely through their career progression.

Some states do mandate exams to ensure base competence. For example, California requires its C-27 landscaping contractor license applicants to pass both a trade exam and a business and law exam. However, Idaho focuses its applicant vetting through eligibility screening rather than exams.

The lack of an exam requirement allows more rapid licensing. It avoids the extra cost exam fees would incur and time spent studying to prepare for and pass the exams. Contractors can apply for and receive an Idaho license relatively quickly as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.

Application Process

To apply for a new Idaho Nursery, Florist, & Landscaping License, contractors must complete the following steps:

  1. Download the paper application from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture website or obtain it from a regional office. The department’s central office is located in Boise but there are other offices distributed statewide that can provide the form.
  2. Complete the application form providing all required information and documentation. This includes personal details, business ID and address, and eligibility elements like proof of age and background check authorization.
  3. Pay the $100 licensing fee. This can be paid by check or money order attached to the application. Cash payments are accepted for in-person submissions at Idaho Department of Agriculture offices.
  4. Mail or deliver the application and fee payment to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture central office. Mailed applications should be sent to the headquarters address in Boise. In-person delivery can be made there or at regional offices.

Alternatively, landscaping contractor licenses can be applied for and paid online through the Idaho State Department of Agriculture licensing portal. This allows filing paperwork and paying fees electronically without needing to submit paper documents. Whether online or paper, the $100 application fee is the same.

After submission, the licensing department will review applications for completeness and eligibility. Provided all requirements are met, the Idaho Nursery, Florist, & Landscaping License will be approved and issued to the applicant. Processing time is typically within a few business days. Contractors can then advertise and perform landscaping services legally in Idaho.

Steps to Renew an Idaho Landscaping Contractor License

Idaho landscaping contractor licenses expire on January 1st each year, regardless of when in the calendar year they were initially issued. To keep the license active and avoid any lapse, contractors must renew before this expiration date.

Failure to renew by the January 1st deadline will incur a $25 late fee on top of the standard $100 renewal fee. It’s crucial for contractors to renew on time to avoid extra charges.

The steps to successfully renew an Idaho landscaping contractor license are:

  1. Pay the $100 renewal licensing fee. Include an extra $25 late fee if renewing after the January 1st expiration date. Fees can be paid directly through the Idaho State Department of Agriculture online licensing portal or by attached check with mailed renewal paperwork.
  2. Renew the license online or submit the paper renewal application. The online portal allows renewal through a simple online form and fee payment process. Alternatively, a paper renewal application can be downloaded from the department website or obtained from any regional office.
  3. Provide an updated government-issued ID if personal information like home address has changed. Keeping this up to date ensures the state has current contractor contact details.
  4. Maintain general liability insurance. Having valid general liability coverage is required to renew the license. The policy certificate proving current coverage may need to be attached to the application.
  5. Maintain workers’ compensation insurance if the business has employees. Like general liability, this must remain active with proof provided as part of renewal.

There are no continuing education requirements for renewing a landscaping contractor license in Idaho. License holders simply must pay the annual fee and renew the license each calendar year before January 1st.

Some states require completion of continuing education courses to maintain competence and renew contractor licenses. For example, electricians in Idaho must complete 24 hours of approved courses to renew their electrical license every 3 years. But no such requirement exists currently for Idaho landscaping contractor renewal.

As long as the license fee is paid and renewal paperwork submitted before the new year expiration deadline, contractors can renew their license on time. They must also continue carrying the required insurance policies to remain in good standing.

Reciprocity with Other States

Idaho has reciprocal licensing agreements for landscaping contractors with a few select states. This reciprocity allows contractors already licensed in those states to become licensed in Idaho without taking any exams.

Reciprocity enables license portability between states with similar requirements and regulatory standards. By eliminating redundant testing, it provides a more streamlined license application process for contractors seeking to operate their business in multiple jurisdictions.

Specifically, landscaping contractors licensed in Oregon, Washington, or Montana may apply for an Idaho landscaping license through reciprocity. To qualify, applicants must provide verification from their home state licensing authority confirming they hold a valid, current landscape horticulturist license that was obtained by exam.

Reciprocity applicants must also pay the standard $100 Idaho licensing fee directly to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. And they must meet that state’s eligibility requirements around age, business ID, address, and background checks.

With license verification, fee payment, and eligibility items fulfilled, Idaho will issue a reciprocal landscaping contractor license to qualified candidates from Oregon, Washington, and Montana. This spares them from needing to take any exams.

Contractors licensed in other states outside of Oregon, Washington, and Montana must apply for an Idaho landscaping contractor license through the standard non-reciprocal application process. They cannot use reciprocity to obtain an Idaho license. These candidates will need to meet the full eligibility criteria, pay the licensing fee, and submit the standard paperwork.

Before seeking a reciprocal license, landscaping contractors should verify their home state’s licensing board allows reciprocity with Idaho in return. Some states mandate a reciprocal agreement must exist between both jurisdictions for license holders to have reciprocity. Contractors should research rules in their existing home licensing state.

License Bond Requirements

Idaho does not have a license bond requirement for individual landscaping contractors. However, landscaping companies with multiple employees may need to provide license bonds for certain staff members.

Specifically, a $20,000 license bond is required in Idaho for any non-certified applicators applying pesticides under the company’s landscaping contractor license. This category includes any employees using pesticides who don’t hold their own applicator certification.

The bond helps cover any potential violations of Idaho’s pesticide laws and regulations committed by these non-certified applicators working under supervision of the landscape contractor license holder. The landscaping contractor license bond must name the Idaho State Department of Agriculture as the certificate holder.

Only the non-certified applicators require bonding. Licensed contractors who apply pesticides or supervise/manage others as a certified applicator would not need an additional license bond. They are already bonded and insured under their personal applicator license.

Requiring these bonds for non-certified pesticide applicators working under a landscape contractor license provides an extra layer of consumer protection. It gives the state recourse to recover damages should an applicator improperly apply chemicals resulting in damage or environmental impacts.

Outside of pesticide application, landscaping contractors and their employees do not need any license bonds or surety to perform general landscaping services in Idaho. The other requirements focus on proper licensing, insurance, and workers’ compensation coverage.

Insurance Requirements

Idaho requires all state-licensed landscaping contractors to carry the following insurance policies:

General liability insurance

This policy is mandatory for any contractor holding an active Idaho Nursery, Florist, & Landscaping License. General liability insurance provides coverage for third-party property damage and bodily injury that could occur because of the contractor’s work or negligence.

It protects the landscaping business if the company is sued for these damages by a customer, vendor, or other party. Common examples include damage to a client’s home because of tree trimming work or injury to a pedestrian who slips on a wet sidewalk recently power washed.

Idaho does not mandate a minimum policy limit for landscaping contractors’ general liability insurance. However, experts recommend coverage of at least $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate at a minimum. Higher limits provide better protection.

Maintaining an active general liability policy and providing a certificate of insurance to the state licensing department is required when first applying for and renewing the landscaping contractor license each year. Any lapse in coverage could lead to fines or license suspension.

Workers’ compensation insurance

Idaho mandates that any landscaping company with employees carry valid workers’ compensation insurance. This policy pays for medical care and lost wages if employees suffer an injury on the job.

Landscaping work inherently involves risk given the nature of operating machinery, climbing trees, and exposure to outdoor hazards. Having workers’ compensation protects the business from major liability if an employee gets injured and tries to sue the company for damages.

Sole proprietors and partnerships without any employees are exempt from needing workers’ compensation insurance in Idaho. However, the mandate applies as soon as one non-owner worker is hired – even part-time or seasonal. Like general liability, proof of active workers’ compensation insurance must be provided when applying for a new landscaping contractor license or renewing each year.

Idaho law states that employers must carry at least $100,000 of workers’ compensation coverage. But higher limits are recommended to adequately protect against potential lost wage claims. Limits of $500,000, $1 million or more better shield the landscaping business from risk.

Maintaining valid insurance policies and providing current certificates proving coverage is required to legally operate as a licensed landscaping contractor in Idaho. Any lapses in coverage or claims resulting from insufficient limits could jeopardize the company’s license status and financial standing.


Becoming a properly licensed landscaping contractor is essential for legally operating a landscaping business in Idaho. It requires candidates to meet eligibility standards, apply for the license, maintain insurance, and renew the license annually.

Key steps for landscaping contractors include:

  • Meeting Idaho’s age, background check, unique business ID, and fee requirements
  • Submitting the license application to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture
  • Renewing the license each year before the January 1st deadline
  • Carrying valid general liability and workers’ compensation policies
  • Using reciprocity to obtain an Idaho license if already licensed in Oregon, Washington or Montana

Idaho does not require landscaping contractor candidates to pass a trade exam. But all applicants must undergo a background check. Having proper insurance and renewing the annual license on time are mandatory.

Following Idaho’s licensing rules and process enables landscaping contractors to legitimately provide services in the state. It also protects the business against liability claims if accidents occur on job sites. Renewing on time prevents license expiration, while reciprocity simplifies the process for out-of-state contractors to gain an Idaho license.

Every landscaping company needs to fulfill these licensing and insurance requirements before advertising services or performing any work in Idaho. Understanding the state’s landscaping contractor regulations is crucial for maintaining compliance. This helps create a successful business while avoiding violations that could jeopardize the license status.