Operating as a general contractor in Massachusetts requires proper licensing and insurance. This comprehensive guide provides an overview of the licensing requirements, steps to obtain and renew licenses, and insurance requirements for general contractors in Massachusetts.


General contractors in Massachusetts are required to register as Home Improvement Contractors (HIC) and obtain Construction Supervisor Licenses (CSL) from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections.

An HIC registration is required to work on repairs and renovations for existing residential properties with 1-4 units that are owner-occupied. The HIC registration ensures general contractors carry the proper insurance and fulfill contractual obligations.

A CSL is required for work on larger renovation and construction projects for existing residential and commercial buildings. The CSL verifies a contractor’s qualifications and experience in construction supervision.

There are several types of CSL licenses available:

  • Unrestricted CSL – for construction, renovation, repair, demolition of buildings under 35,000 cubic feet and 1-2 family dwellings
  • CSL for One and Two Family Dwellings
  • Specialty CSL – for masonry, roofing, windows/doors/siding, solid fuel appliances, demolition, and insulation

New home construction and commercial builders are exempt from HIC registration and CSL requirements. However, municipalities may require licensing for commercial builders.

Requirements for a CSL License

To qualify for a CSL in Massachusetts, general contractors must:

  • Verify at least 3 years of building construction or design experience
  • Pass the CSL exam administered by Prometric
  • Submit a completed exam registration form and score report to the Board of Building Regulations and Standards

The exam covers building code requirements, OSHA safety standards, construction methods, and more. Candidates can schedule the exam after submitting the registration form by calling Prometric.

Applying for a New CSL

Follow these steps to obtain a new Construction Supervisor License in Massachusetts:

  1. Determine the type of CSL required for your scope of work
  2. Verify you meet the experience requirement of 3 years in building construction or design
  3. Complete the CSL exam registration form
  4. Mail the form to Prometric
  5. Allow 10 days for processing then call Prometric at 800-813-6671 to schedule the exam
  6. Take and pass the CSL exam
  7. Mail your exam score report to the Board of Building Regulations and Standards
  8. Allow up to 5 weeks for your CSL application to be processed

The CSL exam costs $114. The initial license fee is $100 per license type.

Renewing a CSL in Massachusetts

CSLs must be renewed every 3 years in Massachusetts. Follow these steps to renew an active CSL:

  • Complete the required 8 hours of continuing education prior to expiration
  • Request a renewal application by email 60 days before expiration
  • Submit the completed renewal form, continuing education certificates, and $100 renewal fee
  • Renewals can be submitted by mail or in-person
  • Allow 5 weeks for renewal processing

There is a 1 year grace period for renewals after the expiration date. Renewals up to 2 years past expiration have an additional $100 fee.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Contractors

General contractors with an active license from another state can apply for license reciprocity in Massachusetts.

To obtain a CSL license via reciprocity, contractors must:

  • Hold a valid license from a state with equivalent requirements
  • Submit a reciprocity application
  • Provide proof of passing the required exams
  • Pay a $114 application fee

Reciprocity is currently only available for electrical licenses from New Hampshire. Applicants must provide a journeyman or master electrician license from New Hampshire.

License Bond Requirements

Contractors applying for or renewing an HIC registration in Massachusetts must obtain a $5,000 license bond. This surety bond provides financial protection to homeowners in the event of poor workmanship or incomplete projects.

The $5,000 license bond must name the Home Improvement Contractor Board as the obligee. It must be issued by a surety company authorized to transact business in Massachusetts.

Insurance Requirements

General contractors registered as Home Improvement Contractors must carry liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

The minimum insurance requirements are:

  • $500,000 in general liability insurance
  • $100,000 in workers’ compensation insurance

An ACORD insurance certificate showing proof of coverage must be provided when applying or renewing an HIC registration.

Contractors should verify insurance requirements for CSL licensing with the Office of Public Safety and Inspections.


Proper licensing and insurance is crucial for general contractors operating in Massachusetts. Key requirements include HIC registration, CSL licensing, license bonds, liability insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance.

Understanding the steps for obtaining and renewing licenses, reciprocity rules, and insurance requirements ensures contractors remain compliant with state regulations. This helps protect homeowners while allowing general contractors to operate legally in Massachusetts.