If you are thinking about starting a general contracting business in West Virginia, you’ll need to understand the licensing and insurance requirements to legally operate. This guide provides an overview of the steps to obtain a contractor’s license, maintain it through renewal, and secure the proper insurance coverage.

Overview of Licensed Contractors in West Virginia

West Virginia requires all general contractors working on projects valued at $2,500 or more to hold a valid state-issued contractor’s license. This license is granted by the West Virginia Division of Labor after applicants complete necessary exams, prove business registration, and show required insurance coverage.

There are several classifications of contractor licenses in West Virginia:

  • General building
  • General engineering
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Fire sprinkler systems
  • Elevators

Within these classifications, contractors can obtain licenses for residential or commercial work. Licenses must be renewed annually by paying a fee and showing continued compliance.

Requirements to Become a Licensed Contractor

To become a licensed general contractor in West Virginia, there are several steps you must complete:

1. Establish Business Registration

All contractors must register as a business with the West Virginia State Tax Department and obtain a Business Registration Certificate. This requires submitting an application and paying a $30 fee.

2. Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If your business will have employees, you must have active workers’ compensation insurance coverage through a West Virginia provider. This also requires registering with the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

3. Verify Unemployment Compensation

Any contractors with West Virginia employees must pay unemployment insurance taxes, which requires registering with Workforce West Virginia.

4. Apply for Any Necessary Business Licenses

Besides the contractor’s license, your business may need additional licensing depending on its location and activities. This can include registrations with the Secretary of State if you formed a corporation, LLC, or partnership.

5. Pass Required License Exams

To qualify for a contractor’s license, you or a full-time employee must pass the required exams. All applicants must take and pass the West Virginia Business and Law exam. For a classification license, you must also pass a trade exam specific to that field.

Exams are administered by PSI Services LLC. You can schedule exams by contacting PSI.

6. Submit a Contractor License Application

Once you’ve completed the steps above, you can submit a Contractor License Application to the West Virginia Division of Labor. This requires paying a $125 application fee.

Make sure to include all necessary supporting documentation with your application, such as proof of insurance and exam results.

Obtaining a New Contractor License

Follow these steps to get a new general contractor’s license in West Virginia:

1. Determine the License Classification You Need

There are several license classifications available. Assess your business activities to choose the one most applicable. This dictates which trade exam you must pass.

2. Schedule and Pass Required Exams

Contact PSI Services LLC to schedule your exams. You’ll need to pass the West Virginia Business and Law exam, plus a trade exam for your classification. Exams cost $95 each.

3. Register Your Business

Complete registrations with the WV Tax Department, Secretary of State if applicable, and obtain appropriate insurance.

4. Submit Your Contractor License Application

Fill out the Contractor License Application from the WV Division of Labor. Include all required supporting documents and the $125 fee.

5. Receive Your Contractor License

Within 24 hours of submitting a complete application, the Division of Labor will process it and issue your contractor license. You will receive it by mail.

Renewing a West Virginia Contractor License

Contractor licenses in West Virginia must be renewed annually before the expiration date. Follow these steps:

  • Review the renewal notice mailed by the Division of Labor approximately 45 days before your license expires.

  • Submit the $90 renewal fee to the Division of Labor by mail or online payment before the expiration date.

  • Include an updated wage bond status affidavit with your renewal paperwork.

  • Provide current proof of workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance coverage if you have employees.

  • Licenses renewed more than 15 days after expiration incur a $25 late fee. Beyond 90 days expired requires reapplying.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Contractors

West Virginia offers license reciprocity with certain states to streamline the process for out-of-state contractors to work in WV. This allows contractors to get a West Virginia license without taking exams, provided they hold an equivalent current license in a reciprocal state.

The Division of Labor has reciprocity agreements for:

  • Alabama: HVAC contractors
  • North Carolina: Electrical contractors
  • Ohio: Electrical, HVAC, plumbing contractors
  • Tennessee: Electrical, HVAC, plumbing, fire sprinkler, general building contractors

To get a West Virginia license through reciprocity:

  • Obtain a current license in your specialty for a reciprocal state.
  • Complete business registrations with the WV Tax Department, Secretary of State, and obtain applicable WV insurance.
  • Submit the appropriate West Virginia reciprocity license application and $125 fee.
  • Provide documentation of your current out-of-state license.

Contractor License Bond Requirements

West Virginia requires general contractor businesses with employees working on commercial projects valued at $100,000 or more to obtain a wage bond.

This wage bond, issued by a surety company, guarantees that the contractor pays its employees according to state wage regulations. The amount of the bond must equal the total payroll costs for a six-month period.

Contractors must provide a Wage Bond Status Affidavit when applying for or renewing their license stating whether a wage bond is required for their business.

Insurance Requirements

Licensed contractors in West Virginia must carry certain insurance coverage:

Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Required for any contractors with employees, providing coverage for job-related injuries and illnesses. This involves registering with the WV Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

Unemployment Insurance: Businesses with WV employees must pay unemployment taxes, requiring registration with Workforce WV.

General Liability Insurance: Recommended to cover third-party bodily injury and property damage claims. Minimum $1 million per occurrence is advised.

Maintaining valid insurance while licensed is essential. You must provide current proof of coverage upon renewal.


Becoming a licensed general contractor in West Virginia involves registering your business, passing exams, and carrying proper insurance. Make sure to learn the licensing steps, classes, fees, and insurance rules before applying.

Renewing your contractor license annually is equally important to provide services legally. This comprehensive guide outlines everything you need to know about meeting state requirements. Use it as a resource to help launch and grow your West Virginia contracting business.