Painting contractors in West Virginia need to follow specific steps to become properly licensed to operate legally in the state. Proper licensing and insurance is crucial to run an effective and compliant painting business. This guide provides painters and painting contractors with a comprehensive overview of the licensing and insurance obligations in West Virginia.

Introduction to Licensed Painting Contractors in West Virginia

West Virginia requires all painting contractors to register with the state and follow licensing rules set by the West Virginia Division of Labor Contractor Licensing Board. Contractors need a license for any painting job valued at over $2,500 when accounting for total labor and materials.

The Contractor Licensing Board issues license classifications including Specialty Classification 015 for Painting Contractors. To qualify for this specialty license, applicants need to verify their skills and business knowledge by passing state exams. They also must register their business appropriately with the Secretary of State and maintain active insurance policies.

Properly licensing your painting company demonstrates credibility and compliance to clients. It also gives your business access to more painting jobs, as many general contractors require subcontractors to hold an active state-issued painting license.

Requirements to Become a Licensed Painting Contractor in West Virginia

Follow these steps to legally provide painting services as a contractor in West Virginia:

1. Register Your Business

First, you need to register your painting business with the West Virginia State Tax Department to get a Business Registration Certificate. Sole proprietors can register their individual name, while corporations, LLCs, and partnerships should register their business name.

Call the West Virginia Tax Division at (304) 558-3333 for more details on registering your painting business. You can also visit a Tax Department regional office or register online through the West Virginia One Stop Business Portal.

2. Fulfill Testing Requirements

Next, an owner or employee needs to pass the business and law exam administered by PSI Exams. This multiple choice test covers core business knowledge for contractors.

Schedule your exam by contacting PSI Exams at (855) 539-0708 or submitting a request through their website. The cost is $114 as of 2023.

Review the Board’s exam content outline to prepare for your test. Books and exam prep resources are available through the state.

3. Get Insurance Coverage

Painting contractors in West Virginia need liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage for employees.

General liability insurance protects your company from property damage, bodily injury claims, and other liabilities from client work. Workers’ compensation provides benefits for employees injured on the job.

Work with an insurance agent to secure the necessary policies for your painting business. Be prepared to provide certificates of insurance when applying for your contractor’s license.

4. Submit Your Contractor License Application

With your business registered, exam passed, and insurance activated, you can complete the West Virginia contractor license application. This form requires:

  • Your company details and license classification being requested
  • Exam verification
  • Proof of business registration
  • Insurance certificates
  • License fee payment ($90 check or money order payable to the Division of Labor)

Mail the completed application and fee payment to the Contractor Licensing Board. You should receive your painting contractor license within 24 hours once approved.

5. Renew Your License Annually

Painting contractor licenses in West Virginia expire after one year. Send in your $90 renewal fee along with an updated license renewal application around 45 days before your expiration date.

The state will mail your renewal notice about six weeks prior to expiration. You can also renew your painting contractor’s license conveniently online through the Division of Labor website.

Steps to Renew a West Virginia Painting Contractor’s License

To keep your West Virginia painting contractor’s license active, you need to renew it annually before the expiration date. Follow these steps to renew your license:

  • Mark your calendar with your license expiration date so you remember to renew on time. Licenses expire one year from the initial approval date.
  • Watch for your renewal notice in the mail about 45 days before expiration. This notice will include your renewal application form.
  • Fill out the renewal application form completely with your current business details. Double check that your contact information and classifications are correct.
  • Secure certificates of insurance for general liability and workers’ compensation to include with your application. Make photocopies to submit.
  • Pay the $90 renewal fee by mailing a check or money order with your application. You can also renew and pay the fee conveniently online.
  • Mail your renewal paperwork or process the renewal online around 2-4 weeks before expiration. Renewals submitted more than 15 days after expiration incur a $25 late fee.
  • Licenses expired more than 90 days require you to reapply and meet all new licensing requirements.

Maintaining an active painting contractor’s license ensures you operate legally and have full access to business opportunities. Renew promptly to avoid disruptions to your painting services.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Painting Contractors

West Virginia offers license reciprocity to simplify licensing for painting contractors already registered in specific other states. This reciprocity prevents delays in securing your West Virginia specialty license.

Painting contractors licensed in Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, or North Carolina can apply for reciprocity in West Virginia. You still need to pass the West Virginia business and law exam. However, your existing license means you don’t have to take the painting specialty exam.

To get your West Virginia painting license through reciprocity:

  • Contact the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board at to confirm you qualify for reciprocity based on your current license.
  • Schedule and pass the required West Virginia business and law exam if you have not already.
  • Submit the standard West Virginia license application, including your business registration, insurance forms, and reciprocity verification.
  • Pay the $90 licensing fee by check, money order, or credit card.

The license application process is streamlined thanks to reciprocity. However, you still need to pass the West Virginia exam and register your out-of-state painting business appropriately to receive your license.

License Bond Requirements in West Virginia

Painting contractors in West Virginia bidding on state construction projects exceeding $100,000 in total value need license bonds. This bid, performance, and payment bond guarantees your work and payment if you win a public contract.

Most painting contractors work on private residential and commercial projects under this threshold, making license bonds unnecessary. However, if you complete government projects above $100,000, obtain a license bond from your insurance agent or bonding company before bidding.

Submit your current license bond paperwork when renewing your painting contractor’s license. Bond verification keeps your business eligible for public contracts requiring bonded contractors.

Insurance Requirements for West Virginia Painting Contractors

Painting contractors must carry general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance to operate legally and safely in West Virginia.

General liability insurance protects your business from covering costs associated with property damage, bodily injuries, completed operations, personal injury, and advertising risks. It covers both your company and employees for claims and legal expenses should an accident happen at a client’s property.

Workers’ compensation insurance provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured while working. It meets state requirements for employee injury protection.

Work with an insurance agent to secure policies that meet West Virginia’s minimum requirements:

  • General liability: $300,000 per occurrence and $500,000 aggregate
  • Workers’ compensation: Statutory state limits

Submit your certificates of insurance when first applying for your painting contractor’s license. Also include current certificates when renewing your license annually. Maintaining active policies keeps your business properly insured.


Navigating painting contractor licensing requirements in West Virginia involves registering your business appropriately, passing the state exams, and carrying active insurance. Renewing your specialty painting license annually also remains essential to provide legal painting services.

Consider license reciprocity if your painting company already operates in a state like Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, or North Carolina. This can simplify meeting West Virginia’s testing requirements. However, you still need to complete the standard license application process.

Following West Virginia’s painting contractor rules demonstrates your credibility to clients. Proper licensing also qualifies your company for more painting jobs. Use this guide’s steps to ensure your painting business meets all requirements and remains compliant.