To perform work as a contractor in South Carolina, you need to get a contractor license issued by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (SCLLR).
Within the SCLLR there are different Divisions that issue the licenses for the different contractor types. These include general and mechanical contractors and various specialty contractors. Common licensing requirements for all contractors include passing an examination, submitting a South Carolina contractors license bond, proof of work experience, and more.
See below for a detailed guide to getting your South Carolina contractors license!
Choose Your South Carolina Contractors License Type
There are two main types of contractor licenses issued in South Carolina. These are:
General and mechanical contractors license – these two licenses are issued by the South Carolina Contractor’s Licensing Board (SCCLB). They allow licensees to perform commercial, industrial, and residential work. You must obtain one of these licenses if you will be performing “commercial” construction work over $5,000. Both the license types are subdivided into various classifications. These are listed on the application form (see below).
Residential builders and specialty contractors license – these licenses type are issued by the South Carolina Residential Builders Commission (SCRBC). They are required to perform work on “single and two-family residences and apartment buildings up to 16 units and three stories in height”. The specialty license is subdivided into the following classifications:
- Vinyl/Aluminum Siding
- Floor Covering
- Insulation Installer
- Stucco Installer
- Roofing Solar Panel Installers
- Drywall Installer
- Painter/Wall Paper
Note: The building, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC classifications require that you pass an examination! The remaining 10 classifications, also called registrations, do not require an exam!
All of the above contractor license types and registrations have similar licensing requirements. Below is a list of the most common requirements which you will need to complete in order to get licensed. You can also find links to all of the applications for these licenses.
1. Register your business in the state
Regardless of the contractor license you wish to obtain, you must first register your business in the state. To do so, you must:
- Register with the Secretary of State
- Register with the South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR)
- Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (if applicable)
These are the basic business registration requirements you need to cover. Once you’ve completed them, you can proceed with applying for your license.
2. Complete your South Carolina contractors license application
Begin by completing the application form for your license type:
- Residential Building and Specialty Contractor License Application Forms
- General and Mechanical Contractor License Application Form
In most of these application forms, you will usually need to specify the classification you are applying for. As you will see, the forms themselves also include all other important details about the licensing process.
3. Get a South Carolina contractor license surety bond
All applicants for a contractor’s license in the state must obtain a South Carolina contractor license surety bond.
Depending on their license applicants for a residential contractors license must post a bond in one of the following amounts:
- $15,000 for residential building contractors
- $10,000 for licensed residential specialty contractors (HVAC, plumber, or electrician)
- $5,000 for registered residential specialty contractors
Depending on the bid and job amount limit that they want to apply for applicants for a general or mechanical contractors license are typically required to submit a financial statement that proves they have covered a minimum net worth requirement. Alternatively, applicants can submit a surety bond twice the amount of the net worth requirement.
Bond amounts for South Carolina general contractors range between $40,000 and $500,000 for the different bid and job limits. Bond amounts for mechanical contractors range between $7,000 and $400,000. The exact amounts for your minimum net worth or surety bond can be found in your application form.
To get a free quote on your bond, simply complete the form below!
4. Fulfill the licensing requirements
To complete the application process, you will also need to provide the following supporting documents and information:
- A Verification of Lawful Presence Form
- Personal information and copies of ID and social security card
- Proof of experience in the form of certifications, transcripts and, in some cases, letters of reference
- A Statewide Background Check (if you respond positively to any questions about previous arrest or convictions)
- Proof of having passed an examination with PSI
- Applicants for a general or mechanical contractor license must pass an exam prior to applying for their license and submitting the application
- Applicants for residential builder or specialty contractor licenses must first submit their application and have it approved, after which they will be mailed an Examination Eligibility Letter; Registration applicants do not need to pass an exam
When you have covered the above requirements, you can proceed with mailing your application and supporting documents to the Department.
5. Mail your application and pay fees
Applicants for a residential builder or specialty contractor license must pay a:
- $100 application fee
- $160 licensing fee if they get licensed on or between July 1 of an even-numbered year and June 30 in an odd-numbered year OR
- $80 licensing fee if they get licensed on or between July 1 of an odd-numbered year and June 30 of an even-numbered year
Applicants for a residential specialty registration must pay a:
- $100 registration fee if they apply on or between July 1 of an odd-numbered year and June 30 of an even-numbered year OR
- $50 registration fee if they apply on or between July 1 of an even-numbered year and June 30 in an odd-numbered year
Applicants for a general or mechanical contractors license must pay a:
- $350 licensing fee OR
- $175 licensing fee if there are less than 12 months remaining in the licensing period
The licensing period for general contractors expires on October 31 in even-numbered years, and the licensing period for mechanical contractors expires on October 31 in odd-numbered years.
Regardless of the license type you are applying for, mail your application to:
South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 11329
Columbia, S.C. 29211
Once received by the licensing authority, your application will be reviewed. You will then be notified of any further requirements you may need to complete or of having successfully obtained your South Carolina contractor license!
If you have any further questions about the licensing requirements and application process, make sure to contact the SCDLLR at 803-896-4696.