Obtaining a professional painter’s license in Georgia provides important legal permissions and consumer protections. All painting contractors operating in the state must hold an active license issued by the Georgia Board of Residential and General Contractors.

This comprehensive guide will explain:

  • Types of licenses available to painters in Georgia
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Steps to obtain a new painting contractor license
  • License renewal process
  • License exams and fees
  • Reciprocity rules
  • Insurance requirements
  • Resources for new licensees

Let’s get started.

Types of Painting Licenses in Georgia

Georgia offers several license classifications for professional painters:

Residential-Basic Contractor

A Residential-Basic Contractor license allows painters to perform work on detached one- and two-family residences and one-family townhouses not exceeding three stories in height.

This is the most common type of license held by small painting contractors and sole proprietors focusing on residential repaints. The Residential-Basic license covers the following:

  • Exterior painting
  • Interior painting
  • Wallpaper removal
  • Wallpaper hanging
  • Faux finishes
  • Staining/sealing decks
  • Other decorative finishes

Residential-Light Commercial Contractor

A Residential-Light Commercial Contractor license allows painters to perform all work permitted under the Residential-Basic license plus work in larger multi-family buildings and light commercial spaces.

Specifically, this license allows painting projects in:

  • Apartment buildings
  • Condominiums
  • Mixed-use residential/commercial buildings
  • Retail stores, offices, restaurants, etc. under 25,000 square feet
  • Churches, schools, hotels/motels, medical offices, warehouses, etc. under 50,000 square feet

This is the correct license type for most painting contractors that go beyond single-family residential work.

General Contractor License

A General Contractor license is required for large-scale commercial painting projects. The scope is unlimited, allowing work on industrial facilities, skyscrapers, etc.

General Contractor licenses are rare for independent painting contractors, as most focus on residential and light commercial work within the scope of the Residential-Basic and Residential-Light Commercial license categories.

Specialty Contractor

Georgia offers a Specialty Contractor license designation that allows painters to operate in the specialty trade of painting without needing a full contractor license if the contract value is less than $2,500.

Specialty licenses are not required to perform painting services, but they do offer an exemption from needing a Residential or General license for small jobs. Specialty painting contractors must still carry liability insurance.

Eligibility Requirements for a Painting License

To qualify for licensure as a Residential or General painting contractor in Georgia, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legally authorized to work in the United States
  • No prior contractor license revocations or suspensions
  • Meet minimum net worth requirements:
  • Residential licenses: $25,000 net worth
  • General Contractor: $150,000 net worth
  • Carry minimum insurance (details later in this article)
  • Pass required license exams

Applicants with bankruptcies within the last 5 years or any civil judgments within the last 3 years must also provide complete details and documentation.

The Georgia Board reviews each applicant’s character, credit, financial responsibility, and business experience to determine eligibility.

Meeting these pre-requisites will qualify painters to submit a full new license application.

How to Apply for a New Painting Contractor License

Follow these steps to obtain a new painting contractor license in Georgia:

1. Select Your License Type

Decide which license is suitable for your painting services. Sole proprietors and small companies focusing on residential repaints only need the Residential-Basic Contractor license. Larger firms working across residential and light commercial spaces require the Residential-Light Commercial license.

2. Submit Your Application

Complete the license application form in full and submit to the Georgia Board.

Print the application, fill it out by hand, and mail it in with supporting documents and the $200 non-refundable application fee. Online submissions are not accepted for new license applications.

3. Fulfill Eligibility Requirements

You’ll need to submit documentation along with your application to prove you meet the eligibility criteria, including:

  • Proof of age
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or work authorization
  • Affidavit of Net Worth Form showing required minimum net worth
  • General liability insurance certificate
  • Workers compensation insurance certificate or exemption affidavit
  • Financial statement or credit report
  • Details of any prior bankruptcies or civil judgments

The Board provides full details on supporting documentation requirements in the license application checklist.

4. Pass the License Exams

Once your application is approved, you’ll need to pass two exams:

  • Business and Law Exam – Covers general business knowledge and Georgia construction regulations. 60 multiple choice questions, pass score is 70% correct.
  • Trade Exam – Tests painting methods, techniques, tools, materials, and best practices. 100 multiple choice questions, pass score is 70%.

The exams are administered by PSI Exams. Expect to pay $75 exam fee for each test. You’ll schedule with PSI after the Board approves you to take the exams.

5. Get Your License

Upon passing the required exams and paying license fees, the Georgia Board will issue your painting contractor license. New licenses are valid for 24 months.

You can now legally contract painting services throughout Georgia. Be sure to keep your insurance active and fulfill renewal requirements.

Painting License Renewal

Painting contractor licenses must be renewed every 2 years before expiration to remain valid. Renew before June 30 on even-numbered years.

Renewal Requirements

To renew your Georgia painting license, you must:

  • Complete 8 hours of continuing education
  • Maintain required insurance policies
  • Submit renewal application and pay $100 fee

Renew online through the MyLicense Georgia portal.

Late renewals incur an additional $200 fee if submitted between July 1-31. After August 1, licenses lapse and painters must stop contracting services until a new license is issued.

Continuing Education

Licensed painting contractors in Georgia must complete 8 hours of continuing education each renewal period. Courses must cover technical skills, business practices, or building code topics relevant to the painting trade.

The state pre-approves course providers that painters can use to fulfill CE requirements. Search for approved CE courses on the Georgia Secretary of State website.

Keep certificates showing you completed 8 CE hours to submit with your renewal application.

Painting Contractor License Exams

As mentioned, all new painting license applicants must pass two exams to demonstrate their competency:

  • Business and Law Exam
  • Trade Exam

Exam Registration

After the Board approves your exam eligibility, register and schedule exams through PSI Exams:

  • Online: www.psiexams.com
  • Phone: 1-800-733-9267

Bring two forms of ID to your testing appointment. Exams are administered at PSI test centers in Georgia.

Business and Law Exam

This exam covers general business management and Georgia construction regulations relevant to painting contractors.

Key topics include:

  • Business planning
  • Estimating and bidding
  • Contracts and legal issues
  • Liability
  • Safety
  • Environmental concerns
  • Labor laws
  • Tax requirements
  • Lien laws
  • Consumer protection laws

The exam is comprised of 60 multiple choice questions. You must score at least 70% to pass.

Trade Exam

The trade exam tests your knowledge of technical topics related to painting services. Example topics include:

  • Surface preparation techniques
  • Paints and coatings
  • Application tools, equipment, and methods
  • Scaffolding, rigging, and ladders
  • Spray painting methods
  • Wallcoverings
  • Decorative finishes
  • Lead, asbestos, and hazardous materials
  • VOC limits and environmental practices

This exam has 100 multiple choice questions. You’ll need to correctly answer at least 70% to pass.

Study exam content outlines on the PSI website to ensure you’re prepared for both tests.

You’re absolutely right, my previous information was incorrect. Here is an updated section on reciprocity for painters in Georgia:

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Painters

Georgia offers limited reciprocity for painting contractors already licensed in specific states.

Commercial Painting License Reciprocity

For a commercial General Contractor painting license, Georgia grants reciprocity to:

  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee

To qualify, you must:

  • Hold an active commercial contractor license in one of the above states
  • Have passed your original license exam
  • Submit a license verification from your home state

If approved, you’ll only need to pass the Georgia Business and Law exam to transfer your commercial license.

Residential Painting License Reciprocity

For a residential painting license, Georgia has reciprocity agreements with:

  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina

To transfer your residential painting license, you must:

  • Hold an active residential contractor license in LA, MS, or SC
  • Have passed the exam for that license
  • Submit a verification of your current license

If approved, you’ll need to take and pass the Georgia Business and Law exam to obtain a residential painting license through reciprocity.

Insurance Requirements

Painting contractors licensed in Georgia must carry:

Liability Insurance

  • Residential-Basic License: Minimum $50,000 liability coverage
  • Residential-Light Commercial License: Minimum $100,000 liability coverage

This covers property damage, injuries, and other liabilities from your painting activities.

Workers Compensation

Per Georgia law, you must carry workers compensation insurance if you have any employees. This provides wage and medical benefits to employees injured on the job.

Sole proprietors with no employees can submit an exemption affidavit instead of an insurance certificate.

Maintain active insurance meeting state minimums throughout the license period. You’ll need to submit proof of coverage with renewals.

Resources for New Painting Licensees

Congratulations, you now have your painting contractor license! Here are some helpful resources for newly licensed painters in Georgia:

Meeting Georgia’s painting license requirements allows you to legally provide services while giving customers assurance of your qualifications. Maintaining this license in good standing is imperative for compliant operation.


We’ve covered the essential steps and requirements involved in becoming a licensed painting contractor in Georgia, including:

  • Selecting the appropriate Residential or Commercial license type
  • Meeting eligibility criteria
  • Submitting a complete new license application
  • Passing the Business Law and Trade exams
  • Maintaining active liability and workers comp insurance
  • Renewing the license every 2 years with continuing education

Fulfilling these licensing requirements is mandatory for offering legal and professional painting services in Georgia. This guide provides painters with the key details and resources to successfully become a Georgia-licensed contractor.