North Dakota has specific licensing and insurance requirements for painting contractors. This comprehensive guide provides all the key details painters need to know to become properly licensed and insured to operate as a painting contractor in North Dakota.


In North Dakota, anyone who engages in painting services where the cost, value, or price per job exceeds $4,000 must obtain a state-issued painting contractor’s license. This license requirement applies to painters, painting contractors, and subcontractors.

Obtaining a license ensures painters have the proper training, knowledge, and qualifications to provide painting services safely, legally, and reliably in North Dakota. Licenses must be renewed annually.

The North Dakota Secretary of State oversees the licensing program for contractors, including painters and painting contractors. There are four classes of painting contractor licenses based on the size of jobs performed:

  • Class A – For jobs over $500,000
  • Class B – For jobs up to $500,000
  • Class C – For jobs up to $300,000
  • Class D – For jobs up to $100,000

Without a proper license, painting contractors face risks such as fines, inability to obtain permits, limitations on project size, barriers bidding on public projects, and even criminal penalties if found to be operating illegally and unlicensed in the state.

Requirements for a Painting Contractor License

To qualify for a North Dakota painting contractor’s license, the following criteria must be met:

  • Registered business name – Painters must register their business name with the Secretary of State. Sole proprietors and partnerships must register their business name. Other business entities like LLCs and corporations must be properly registered. Business name registrations can be completed online through the Secretary of State website.
  • Contractor license application – Submit a completed Contractor License Application under oath detailing painting experience and qualifications. This application form is available digitally. The oath is legally binding and requires disclosing truthful and accurate business ownership information.
  • Liability insurance – Have active liability insurance for the registered business name. The policy must list the ND Secretary of State as the certificate holder. Limits, coverage inclusions, and exclusions may vary based on the size and type of painting jobs. Using an established insurance agent familiar with contractor requirements can help find the right liability insurance policy.
  • Good standing with Workforce Safety Insurance (WSI) – Provide a statement from WSI confirming the painter is in good standing. WSI offers a verification of non-employment form online for validating good standing. Maintaining good standing ensures payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation requirements are met.
  • License fee – Pay the license fee for the relevant class based on typical job sizes. Fees range from $100 for a Class D up to $450 for a Class A license. The Secretary of State accepts various payment methods including checks, money orders, and credit cards.
  • Other licenses – Electrical, painters, asbestos, and other specialty licenses may also be required for certain painting jobs. The state issues these licenses separately through designated licensing boards. Painting contractors must research if additional trade licenses apply and obtain them as needed.

Painters are not required to take an exam to qualify for a painting contractor’s license in North Dakota. The application focuses more on disclosure of experience and proper maintenance of business registrations, insurance, tax requirements, and good standing.

How to Apply for a New Painting Contractor License

Follow these key steps to obtain a new North Dakota painting contractor’s license:

1. Register your business name

  • Sole proprietors and partnerships should check availability then register their unique business name with the Secretary of State.
  • LLCs, corporations, and other entities must register their formal business structure appropriately with the state before applying for a painting contractor’s license.
  • The registered business name must match the name used on the painting contractor’s license application.
  • Registering online through the Secretary of State website is the fastest way to complete this step.

2. Obtain business liability insurance

  • Research painting contractor insurance options and obtain a policy that covers typical risks like property damage, bodily injury claims, completed work, and contractual obligations.
  • Make sure to list the North Dakota Secretary of State as a certificate holder on the active policy. This provides licensing proof of coverage.
  • Work with an agent familiar with contractor insurance requirements in North Dakota to make the process smooth.

3. Confirm good standing with Workforce Safety Insurance

  • As North Dakota’s workers’ compensation program, WSI requires painting contractors to maintain good standing in the state.
  • Request an official Statement of Non-Employer from WSI to attach to your painting contractor license application. This verifies you have no outstanding workers’ comp debts.
  • If you have employees, you must carry valid workers’ compensation insurance through WSI or an approved carrier. This status will also be verified.

4. Complete the license application

  • Find the Contractor License Application on the Secretary of State website. This is a downloadable and fillable PDF form.
  • Fill out all sections fully and accurately, providing details on your painting business’s ownership structure and qualifications.
  • Sign the oath page certifying that the information provided is truthful and that you understand the obligations of licensed contractors in North Dakota.

5. Pay the license fee

  • The license fee varies based on the size of painting jobs you will perform, ranging from $100 to $450.
  • Double check that you are submitting the correct fee for the Class license you are applying for based on your projected job sizes.
  • Fees are non-refundable if a license application is rejected. Only apply once all requirements are met.
  • The Secretary of State accepts checks, money orders, and credit cards as payment.

6. Submit the application and supporting documents

  • Mail or deliver the completed application form along with the liability insurance certificate, WSI statement of good standing, and license fee payment to the Secretary of State office.
  • Applications are processed in the order received, and licenses are mailed out upon approval.
  • Keep copies for your records and contact the state if you do not receive approval confirmation within 4 weeks.

Submitting a thorough, accurate application with all required supporting documents ensures the quickest path to licensing approval.

How to Renew a North Dakota Painting License

Painting contractor’s licenses in North Dakota must be renewed each year by March 1. There is no grace period – late renewals are assessed penalties.

To renew a license, painters must:

  • Submit a Contractor License Renewal Application with updated business and job details.
  • List all painting jobs over $25,000 completed in North Dakota in the past year. Include the contract value or price for each.
  • Provide an updated certificate of liability insurance showing active coverage. This should list the state as a certificate holder once again.
  • Pay the standard renewal fee ranging from $30 for a Class D license up to $90 for a Class A license.
  • Include any additional specialty trade license renewals required. Electrical and painters licenses often have their own renewal forms.
  • Sign the application to certify all details provided are current and correct before submitting.

If the renewal is submitted after March 1, penalty fees apply:

  • Class A – $50 penalty, $140 total fee
  • Class B – $50 penalty, $110 total fee
  • Class C – $50 penalty, $95 total fee
  • Class D – $50 penalty, $80 total fee

There are no continuing education requirements for renewing a painting contractor’s license in North Dakota currently. Renewal hinges on proper maintenance of registration, insurance, payments, and providing details on work completed in the previous calendar year.

Keeping licenses active annually is crucial for contractors who plan to continually work in North Dakota. Lapsed licenses can take weeks to reinstate.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Painters

North Dakota does not have direct license reciprocity with any other states for painting contractors currently.

However, painters with a current painting contractor’s license in another U.S. state may still qualify for an equivalent North Dakota license through a reciprocal application process.

To obtain a license this way, an out-of-state painter must:

  • Register their business appropriately with the North Dakota Secretary of State.
  • Provide proof of their active license held in the other state. Copies of the current license certificate are accepted.
  • Show evidence of liability insurance coverage active in North Dakota. This is still required.
  • Pay the standard North Dakota license fee based on project size class.
  • Submit a reciprocity license application affidavit form.

While exam, education, and experience requirements may differ across states, holding an active license shows a minimum competency.

Providing insurance, paying fees, and registering the business properly allows reciprocal licensing as a contractor in North Dakota in most cases.

Bond Requirements

North Dakota does not require painting contractors to obtain license bonds simply to hold a painting contractor’s license.

However, for some large-scale painting jobs or public works projects, additional bonding may be mandatory or requested:

  • Bid bonds – May be required when bidding on painting projects over a certain dollar value as a financial guarantee. Typically a small percentage (5%).
  • Payment bonds – Protects subcontractors and suppliers who are owed money if the painting contractor fails to pay.
  • Performance bonds – Protects the customer if the painting contractor fails to complete the job satisfactorily based on the contract terms.

Painting contractors should establish relationships with experienced surety bond agents who can provide bid, payment, and performance bonds on demand if needed for larger contracts.

Having bonding pre-approved makes painters more competitive when bidding public works or substantial private jobs with bond requirements. The costs of bonding can usually be built into project bids and pricing as well.

Insurance Requirements

As part of the license application, painting contractors must submit proof of active liability insurance coverage meeting state minimums. This is mandatory—contractors cannot be licensed in North Dakota without proper liability insurance.

Some key requirements related to liability insurance for licensed painting contractors in North Dakota include:

  • Having a policy issued in the same registered business name that will appear on the painting license.
  • Maintaining relevant coverage inclusions like bodily injury, property damage, completed operations, etc that correspond to painting operations.
  • Minimum liability limits set by the state. Common levels are $100,000 per occurrence, $300,000 aggregate for Class D up to $1 million or more in coverage for Class A.
  • Listing the North Dakota Secretary of State as a certificate holder. This shows the state your coverage is active.

In addition, as North Dakota law requires painting contractors to maintain good standing with Workforce Safety Insurance (WSI), having valid workers’ compensation insurance is also mandatory if you have employees.

Maintaining continuous, adequate insurance coverage and recognizing when policy renewals and updates are required is essential for compliance.

Letting policies lapse or get cancelled puts licensing at risk. Keeping close contact with insurance agents/brokers provides reminders and guidance.


Obtaining a license issued by the North Dakota Secretary of State is mandatory for painters and painting contractors who perform jobs valued at over $4,000.

Key steps painters need to take when seeking to become properly licensed in the state include:

  • Registering their business appropriately
  • Obtaining adequate liability insurance
  • Maintaining good standing with WSI
  • Completing the license application truthfully
  • Paying the applicable licensing fees
  • Meeting renewal and reciprocity requirements if licensing initially in another state

Having proper insurance coverage and licensing provides the foundation for operating a painting business legally and safely in North Dakota based on contractor regulations.

This guide offers painters extensive details on navigating the licensing process, mandatory insurance requirements, steps for renewal, and other important information needed to meet state regulations.

Following these rules helps paint contractors avoid risks of penalties, lawsuits, or being barred from bidding on projects. Being properly licensed shows customers you operate a legitimate, compliant painting business in North Dakota. Use this resource as your licensing handbook.