Operating a painting business in Arizona requires proper licensing and insurance. This guide will provide an in-depth overview of the steps to become a licensed painting contractor in Arizona, maintain an active license, and understand the insurance obligations.

Becoming a Licensed Painting Contractor in Arizona

To legally operate as a painting contractor in Arizona, individuals must obtain a license issued by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC). The ROC provides licenses for both residential and commercial painting contractors.

Determining the Right License Type

The ROC issues separate licenses for residential and commercial painting projects. Choosing the right license is an important first step.

Residential painting licenses allow painters to work on:

  • Houses
  • Townhouses
  • Condominiums
  • Cooperative units
  • Duplexes
  • Triplexes
  • Fourplexes

Any structure intended for habitation by individuals qualifies as residential. This includes single-family homes as well as units within multi-family buildings.

Commercial painting licenses cover painting services for any structure that does not meet the definition of a residential property. Examples include:

  • Office buildings
  • Retail stores
  • Hotels
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Churches
  • Industrial facilities
  • Apartment buildings with 5+ units

In general, a commercial license is needed for painting jobs related to operating a business or commercial enterprise.

When applying, painters need to carefully consider the type of projects they plan to take on and select the appropriate residential or commercial painting license.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a painting contractor’s license in Arizona, applicants must meet experience and exam requirements.


  • For a residential painting license, applicants need two years of full-time experience totaling at least 4,000 hours. This experience must be within the last 10 years working under an Arizona-licensed residential painting contractor.
  • For a commercial painting license, applicants need two years of full-time experience totaling at least 4,000 hours. This experience must also fall within the previous 10 years and be under an Arizona-licensed commercial painting contractor.

The ROC will review details on the applicant’s painting experience to verify it meets their standards. Those lacking full documentation showing the necessary hands-on experience may need to gain additional training before qualifying.


  • All painting contractor applicants must take and pass the Arizona Statutes and Rules exam. This tests their understanding of contractor rules, regulations, and best practices in the state. A minimum score of 70% is required to pass.
  • Applicants must also take and pass a trade exam specific to either residential or commercial painting. The residential and commercial painting exams are different. A score of at least 70% is also needed to pass the trade exam.

The painting exams cover topics like surface preparation, application techniques, paint ingredients, equipment, safety procedures, and more. Applicants can prepare using the painting exam study guides available through the exam provider.

Applying for a New License

Once painters have established their eligibility through experience and exams, they can complete the licensing application:

1. Submit exam results

  • Exam results showing a passing score on both the Statutes and Rules exam and the applicable painting exam must be submitted. These verify the applicant has the minimum knowledge needed for licensing.

2. Undergo background check

  • All applicants undergo a background check through ROC’s authorized vendor. This helps identify any past crimes or infractions relevant to operating a painting business.

3. Obtain surety bond

  • A surety bond must be acquired for the requested painting license type and classification. Bond amounts range from $2,000 for residential painters up to $10,000 for commercial contractors.

4. Create legal business entity

  • Applicants must form a recognized legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Sole proprietors can apply using their full legal name.

5. Pay licensing fees

  • Fees include a $150 application fee and a $450 initial licensing fee. These must be submitted along with the application forms.

6. Submit application form

  • Applicants must complete either the residential or commercial license application form and include all required supporting documents. Applications can be submitted online, by mail, or in person.

7. Grant license approval

  • If approved, the ROC will grant and issue the new painting contractor’s license. This will allow the applicant to operate as a licensed painting business in Arizona. The process typically takes 4-6 weeks.

Maintaining a License

Once issued a painting contractor’s license, individuals must take steps to keep it active and in good standing. Key requirements include:

  • Renew the license every 2 years by the ROC’s deadline
  • Complete 8 hours of continuing education prior to each renewal
  • Maintain the surety bond required for the license
  • Update legal entity registration paperwork as needed
  • Pay all renewal fees on time

Failure to meet these obligations can result in penalties or the painting license being suspended. Meeting the renewal criteria allows painters to continue operating their contracting business in Arizona.

Renewing a Painting Contractor’s License in Arizona

Painting contractor’s licenses in Arizona must be renewed every two years. This involves completing a renewal application through the ROC and paying the renewal fee. Key steps painters need to take to successfully renew their license include:

1. Complete continuing education

  • All painting contractors must complete 8 hours of continuing education approved by the ROC during the last two years. This helps painters stay up-to-date on state regulations, safety standards, and industry best practices.

2. Pay renewal fees

  • A $450 renewal fee must be paid to process the application. Unlike a new license, no additional application fee is required for renewals.

3. Submit renewal application

  • Painters must use the ROC’s secure online portal to complete and electronically submit the license renewal application before it expires.

4. Maintain surety bond

  • The surety bond must remain active and be updated to match the renewed license. The ROC will verify it is current.

5. Update license records

  • Painters should check that all information such as the business address is current in the ROC records and make any necessary updates.

Meeting these license renewal requirements on time allows painting contractors to renew their Arizona license for another two years.

Consequences for Failing to Renew

Painters who miss the deadline to renew their Arizona license face serious consequences:

  • Their painting contractor’s license will be inactive which prohibits taking on jobs.
  • A late renewal fee will be charged which can increase costs by $100-150.
  • Jobs performed while inactive may result in disciplinary action and fines.

To avoid disruption and penalties, it is critical for painting contractors to renew on time every two years. Marking renewal dates on a calendar can help prevent missed deadlines.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Painting Contractors

Experienced painters holding an active license in California, Nevada, or Utah may be eligible for reciprocity in Arizona. This allows them to obtain an Arizona painting contractor’s license without having to take the exams.

Eligibility for Reciprocity

To apply via reciprocity, out-of-state painters need to meet several requirements:

  • Hold a current residential or commercial painting contractor’s license in CA, NV, or UT
  • Have passed the trade exam required for licensing in their state
  • Meet Arizona’s experience standards of 2 years full-time under a licensed painting contractor
  • Have no license disciplinary actions against them
  • Submit all reciprocity application materials to the ROC

Reciprocity Process

If they meet the eligibility criteria, the process to get an Arizona license through reciprocity involves:

  • Completing the standard contractor license application
  • Requesting a waiver of the exam requirements
  • Paying the $150 application and $450 licensing fees
  • Providing documentation from their home state license

The ROC will review for qualification and process the reciprocity request along with the license application.

Reciprocity Benefits

The reciprocity pathway allows qualified candidates already licensed in CA, NV, or UT to become licensed in Arizona without duplicating exams. This can save them both time and money. It provides an excellent option for established out-of-state painting contractors looking to expand their operations into Arizona.

However, they must still submit all documentation, pay required fees, and meet experience requirements to receive an Arizona license through reciprocity with their home state.

Bond Requirements

All licensed painting contractors in Arizona must carry a surety bond. The purpose of the bond is to provide financial protection and recourse to consumers in the event the contractor engages in fraudulent practices or fails to complete work.

Bond amounts vary based on the license classification:

  • Residential painters – $2,000 bond
  • Commercial painters – $5,000 bond

If a consumer has grounds to make a claim against a painting contractor, they can file it with the surety bond company. If found valid after investigation, the consumer may recover damages against the bond.

Painters must keep the surety bond continuously active as long as the contractor’s license is valid. The bond must also be updated to match the class and amount required at each license renewal.

Letting the surety bond coverage lapse can lead to disciplinary action against the painting contractor’s license. Maintaining proper bonding is essential to comply with ROC regulations.

Insurance Requirements

Licensed painting contractors also need certain insurance policies to meet Arizona’s requirements and protect their business.

General Liability Insurance

Carrying adequate general liability insurance is essential for both residential and commercial painting contractors. This covers any property damage or bodily injuries to others caused by the painting business’s operations, employees, or subcontractors.

General liability insurance also covers legal defense costs if a customer sues the painting contractor. It provides vital financial protection against liability claims.

Workers Compensation Insurance

By law in Arizona, businesses with employees must carry workers compensation insurance. It provides coverage for medical treatment and lost wages if employees become injured or ill due to work.

As painting often involves physical labor and job site hazards, this policy is critical for painters with staff. It provides care for workers and protects the company from injury claims.

Sole proprietors without employees can opt out of workers compensation insurance in Arizona. But for painting contractors with staff, coverage is mandatory. Failing to carry it can lead to significant penalties.

Business Auto Insurance

Painting contractors who operate company vehicles for operations like job site transportation need business auto insurance. This covers any accidents, damage, or liability when employees drive vehicles for work purposes.

If the painting business does not own vehicles, non-owned auto coverage can be added to the general liability policy. This protects against liability when employees use personal cars for work activities.

Maintaining valid insurance coverage is an important part of operating legally as a licensed painting professional. Painters should consult with a qualified insurance broker to ensure they carry adequate policies meeting Arizona’s requirements and protecting their business interests.


Arizona has regulations in place to protect consumers and set professional standards for painting contractors. Navigating the licensing, bond, and insurance requirements is essential for painters looking to establish their business in the state. This includes submitting proper documentation, passing required exams, and renewing the license every two years. Staying current on obligations for insurance and surety bond coverage is also critical. Following Arizona’s guidelines allows painting contractors to operate legally, foster credibility with customers, and position their business for success. With attention to detail on licensing and insurance obligations, painting professionals can build a thriving contracting business.