If you are a painter or painting contractor looking to do business in Nebraska, there are some important licensing and insurance requirements you need to be aware of. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about becoming a licensed painter or painting contractor in Nebraska.


In Nebraska, painters and painting contractors working in counties with populations over 100,000 are required to hold a state-issued license. This applies to painters working on commercial and residential projects that require a building permit.

The purpose of Nebraska’s painter licensing system is to ensure that painters meet minimum standards of training and experience. Being properly licensed demonstrates to potential clients that you have the skills and knowledge to complete painting jobs safely, correctly, and to code.

Licenses are issued by the Nebraska Department of Labor and categorized into different classes based on the scope of work a contractor is authorized to perform. Licenses must be renewed every 1-3 years depending on the license class.

In addition to holding a valid painter’s license, contractors in Nebraska are also required to carry liability insurance and may need to obtain a surety bond. These requirements are in place to protect both contractors and their clients financially in the event that something goes wrong on a job site.

This comprehensive guide will provide a thorough overview of all the licensing, insurance, bonding, and other legal requirements for painters and painting contractors operating in Nebraska. Having a full understanding of Nebraska’s rules and regulations for the painting trade will ensure your business remains compliant.

License Requirements

The first step to legally operating as a painting contractor in Nebraska is obtaining the appropriate state-issued license. The Nebraska Department of Labor issues and oversees painter licensing in the state.

There are five different classes of painter and painting contractor licenses issued in Nebraska. The specific class of license you will need depends on the size, scope, and nature of painting projects you intend to take on.

License Classes

The five classes of painting contractor licenses issued in Nebraska are:

  • Class A: This license allows painters to work on any type of construction project, regardless of size, use, or number of stories. A Class A is the broadest and most comprehensive painting contractor’s license available in Nebraska. This license authorizes you to bid on and complete painting jobs on commercial high-rises, industrial warehouses, large apartment complexes, and other major construction projects. For painters looking to take on large-scale commercial jobs, a Class A license is a must. A Class A painting contractor license requires passing a rigorous trade exam to demonstrate extensive knowledge and experience.
  • Class B: This license is a step down from a Class A, and authorizes painters to work on both commercial and residential buildings up to 4 stories in height. Class B license holders can bid on and complete interior and exterior painting projects for small commercial buildings, offices, retail shops, restaurants, apartment buildings up to 4 stories, and other mid-size projects. Applicants must pass a trade exam to qualify for a Class B painting contractor’s license.
  • Class C: This class of license allows painters and contractors to perform work on residential projects and duplexes. Specifically, holders of a Class C license can paint and complete interior and exterior work on single family homes, duplexes, townhomes, ADUs, and small residential apartment buildings. A trade exam is required to obtain this residential painter’s license.
  • Class D: A Class D painting contractor’s license is intended for remodeling and minor renovation work on existing one and two family residential structures. This license allows painters to take on small residential repainting and touch-up jobs. Unlike other classes, a trade exam is not required for a Class D. However, applicants must have previously held an active Class A, B, or C painting license in Nebraska that has been expired for less than 366 days.
  • Class E: This limited residential license allows holders to perform and complete exterior work on homes such as siding, roofing, decking, fencing, and window/door replacement and installation. House painters that specialize in exterior remodeling, restoration, and weatherproofing can qualify for a Class E license without having to take an exam.

As you can see, the license class system is based on the scope and complexity of painting projects you want to take on. The Nebraska Department of Labor uses exams for broader license classes to ensure applicants have the experience, skills, and knowledge needed to safely and effectively manage large-scale painting jobs.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a painting contractor’s license in Nebraska, applicants must meet some basic eligibility requirements:

  • Minimum Age: You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Residency: You do not have to be a Nebraska resident to obtain a painting contractor’s license. However, your business must be registered in Nebraska.
  • Personal Identification: You will need to provide your personal identification information such as your name, date of birth, social security number, and contact details.
  • Business Registration: Your painting contracting business must be officially registered with the Nebraska Secretary of State. You’ll need to provide basic information such as your business name, address, structure, ownership details, federal EIN, etc.
  • Insurance: All license classes require applicants to carry valid general liability insurance that meets state minimums (detailed later in this guide). You must provide proof of active insurance coverage.
  • Workers’ Compensation: If your painting business has any employees, even part-time, you must carry an active workers’ compensation insurance policy. Sole proprietors with no employees can file for an exemption.
  • Testing: You must pass the required trade examinations to qualify for Class A, B, or C painting contractor licenses in Nebraska. Testing is not required for Class D or E licenses.

As long as you meet these basic eligibility criteria, you can submit an application to the Nebraska Department of Labor to start the licensing process. Next we’ll look at the step-by-step application process.

Applying for a New License

If you’ve determined you meet the eligibility criteria for a painting contractor’s license, the next step is to complete the new license application process through the Nebraska Department of Labor website. Here are the steps:

  1. Visit the Contractor Registration page on the Nebraska DOL website and click on “New Registration” to start your application.
  2. Select the specific class of painting contractor’s license you need based on the scope of painting work you plan to take on. Apply for the license class that aligns with your experience and business goals.
  3. Complete all required personal and business information fields in the application, including:
    • Full legal name and personal details
    • Social security number
    • Date of birth
    • Contact phone and email
    • Business name, structure, ownership details
    • Business address
    • Federal employer ID number (EIN)
  4. Upload or provide proof of general liability insurance coverage meeting Nebraska’s minimum requirements for painting contractors. Minimum insurance limits vary based on license class – make sure your policy meets requirements.
  5. Provide proof of active workers’ compensation insurance coverage or file for a workers’ compensation exemption if you do not have employees. Sole proprietors and partnerships without employees are eligible for exemption.
  6. Pay the non-refundable $40 application processing fee when you submit your application.
  7. For Class A, B, or C licenses, pass the required painting trade examination. Testing is done through approved third-party testing centers.

Once you submit your completed license application and all required supporting documents to the Department of Labor, the review and approval process can take 2-4 weeks. If your application is missing any information it can delay approval, so double check you fill everything out fully before submitting.

After your painting contractor license application is approved, you must pay the license issuance fee. License fees vary based on class:

  • Class A: $300
  • Class B: $300
  • Class C: $200
  • Class D: $100
  • Class E: $100

Once issued, painting contractor licenses are valid for 1 to 3 years before they must be renewed. We’ll go over the renewal process next.

License Renewal

Painting contractor’s licenses must be renewed before the expiration date printed on the physical license document issued by the Department of Labor. Failing to properly renew your painting contractor’s license will result in lapse of licensure – meaning you will no longer able to legally operate or bid on painting jobs until a new license is issued.

To complete the license renewal process for active painting contractors in Nebraska, you must:

  • Submit a renewal application through the Nebraska DOL website 30-60 days prior to your expiration date.
  • Pay the renewal licensing fee. Fees are the same as initial licensing:
    • Class A: $300
    • Class B: $300
    • Class C: $200
    • Class D: $100
    • Class E: $100
  • Provide updated proof of general liability insurance coverage meeting Nebraska’s minimum requirements.
  • Provide proof of completion of any required continuing education credits. Classes A, B, C, and E require 3 hours of CE per year.
  • Attest that all business information on file is current and accurate. Update any information if needed.
  • Print and obtain your renewed license certificate.

Properly renewing your painting contractor’s license ensures you continue operating legally and avoid any business interruptions. Processing renewal applications can take 30-60 days, so submit your renewal paperwork at least 2 months in advance of expiration.

Continuing Education

An important requirement to maintain an active painting contractor’s license in Nebraska is completing continuing education.

Painting contractors licensed in the state must complete 3 hours of approved CE courses per year, or 9 hours for every 3 year licensing period. Continuing education keeps your industry knowledge sharp and ensures you are up-to-date on the latest codes, safety practices, techniques, and business operations relevant to the painting trade.

The following license classes are required to complete CEs:

  • Class A
  • Class B
  • Class C
  • Class E

Class D license holders are exempt from Nebraska’s CE requirements.

The content and delivery method of continuing education can vary. Some acceptable CE activities include:

  • Construction, painting, or building code seminars
  • Workshops related to the painting trade
  • College courses in construction management, business, etc.
  • Active participation in educational outreach programs

CE courses can be offered by community colleges, trade groups, professional associations, private training companies, or even painting product manufacturers.

As a license holder, it is your responsibility to maintain adequate records of all continuing education completed each year in case you are selected for audit by the Department of Labor. Failure to fulfill the CE requirements can result in non-renewal of your painting contractor’s license, so make sure you take the necessary courses and track your progress.

Reciprocity Agreements with Other States

In addition to obtaining a new painting contractor’s license, the state of Nebraska offers reciprocal licensing agreements with some other states. This reciprocity allows painting contractors holding active licenses in other states to transfer their license to Nebraska through a streamlined application process.

Reciprocity prevents painters from having to completely retake examinations and re-enter the full licensing process if they are licensed in a state with comparable requirements and standards to Nebraska. Transferring an active out-of-state painting license to Nebraska must be done carefully by following the proper steps.

Here is what’s required for painters licensed in other states to transfer their license through reciprocity:

  • You must hold an active and valid painting contractor’s license in another U.S. state that has approved reciprocity with Nebraska. Not all states have reciprocity.
  • The license class you hold must be equivalent to the class of license you wish to transfer to in Nebraska (i.e. Class A, B, C, etc.)
  • You must have originally passed any required trade examinations and assessments to obtain your existing license. For Nebraska Class A or B licenses, proof of testing is mandatory.
  • Submit a completed reciprocity application and $40 fee to the Nebraska Department of Labor.
  • Provide copies of your current license from the other state. License must be active and in good standing.
  • Pay the full Nebraska licensing fee for the class of license you are transferring into. Fees are the same as first-time applicants.

The reciprocity license transfer process typically takes 30-60 days to complete. All application materials are reviewed for equivalency before a Nebraska painting contractor license is issued. Up to that point, you may not legally perform contracting work in Nebraska until the new license is approved.

Using license reciprocity allows qualified out-of-state painters to operate legally in Nebraska after completing a streamlined licensing process. Make sure to research which states have reciprocity agreements before applying.

Surety Bond Requirements

In addition to obtaining a state-issued painting contractor’s license, all licensed painters and painting contractors in Nebraska are required to carry an active surety bond.

Surety bonds provide financial protection to consumers by allowing them to make claims against the bond in the event a contractor fails to complete work or causes damages. Carrying this type of contractor bond is mandatory in order for the Department of Labor to issue an active painting license.

The surety bond requirements for licensed painting contractors in Nebraska are:

  • Minimum Coverage: $10,000
  • Bond Type: Must be a corporate surety bond – personal indemnity bonds do not qualify.
  • Term Length: Must be maintained continuously for the entire license period until renewal.

Obtaining a surety bond involves an application process where you provide personal and business financial information to the surety company. This allows them to assess your creditworthiness and risk level. Painters with good personal credit tend to qualify for lower surety bond premiums.

Premiums are paid annually and usually range from 1-3% of the bonded amount. So for a $10,000 surety bond, expect to pay $100 – $300 per year in premiums. Some surety companies may require collateral like a letter of credit for new businesses.

Make sure to work with an authorized surety bond agent to obtain compliant coverage. The Nebraska Department of Labor website has a list of approved surety companies and agents. Maintaining an active surety bond protects your clients and shows you operate a legitimate, licensed painting business.

Insurance Requirements

Painting contractors licensed in Nebraska must carry active general liability and workers’ compensation insurance policies in order to maintain compliance. These state-mandated insurance policies protect painting contractors, property owners, and workers in the event of an accident or claim.

The following are Nebraska’s minimum insurance requirements for licensed painting contractors:

General Liability Insurance

  • Class A & B Licenses: $1,000,000 per occurrence
  • Class C Licenses: $500,000 per occurrence
  • Class D & E Licenses: $300,000 per occurrence

As you can see, higher license classes come with higher general liability insurance minimums. Make sure your insurance agent is aware that you operate as a licensed painting contractor so they can issue your general liability policy at the appropriate level.

General liability insurance covers third-party property damage and bodily injury claims that occur as a result of your contracted painting work. This protects you from expensive lawsuits and financial ruin in the event of an unforeseen accident on a job site. Having inadequate general liability limits can put your business and personal assets at risk.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

  • Required for: All license holders with employees
  • Exempt: Sole proprietors/partnerships without employees

Unlike general liability which is mandated for all license classes, workers’ compensation is only required for painting contractors that have W2 employees.

If you operate your painting contracting business without employees, you can file an exemption from workers’ compensation insurance requirements. This exemption form must be filed with the Department of Labor along with your license application or renewal paperwork.

If you do utilize employees, even just part-time or seasonal workers, you must carry an active workers’ comp policy with $500,000 minimum employer’s liability limits. Be aware that minimum limits and requirements can vary for painters with employees working outside of Nebraska.

Maintaining continuous general liability and workers’ compensation insurance (if applicable) that meets Nebraska’s regulatory requirements is essential. You must provide current proof of coverage each time you apply for a new license, renewal, or modify your policy. Letting policies lapse can jeopardize your compliance.


Meeting Nebraska’s licensing, bonding, and insurance requirements for painting contractors ensures you operate a fully compliant and legally protected business. This guide provided a comprehensive look at navigating Nebraska’s painter licensing process.

The key steps covered in this piece include:

  • Understanding the five license classes issued to painting contractors based on scope of work.
  • Reviewing eligibility criteria and documentation required for new license applications.
  • Learning the step-by-step process to apply for and obtain a new state-issued painting contractor’s license.
  • Outlining license renewal timeframes, procedures, fees, and continuing education requirements.
  • Explaining license reciprocity agreements that allow qualified out-of-state painters to transfer their license.
  • Describing surety bond and insurance mandates, including minimum coverage amounts.

Following the licensing procedures and carrying the required insurance and bonds demonstrates you operate a legitimate and code-compliant painting business in Nebraska. This helps build trust and confidence with potential clients.

For additional information or answers to specific questions, be sure to contact the Nebraska Department of Labor licensing division. Their helpful staff can provide clarification on any aspect of becoming a properly licensed painting contractor in the state.