New York is a very friendly state for contractors and handypersons. There are no statewide licensing requirements, although there may be some at the city or county level, depending on where in New York you are located.
In many places in New York, you only need to register your business with the state or county to get a New York handyman license. However, some municipalities, such as New York City, have specific handyman license requirements New York contractors must meet. There may also be limitations on the size and scope of work that can be done by a handyman within specific cities or counties.
Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. You should consult your local regulations and a qualified attorney for legal advice.
Do You Need a License to be a Handyman in New York?
There are no statewide requirements for handyman licenses in New York. However, that does not mean you will not need a license to operate. Because several cities have handyman license requirements New York handymen are advised to check with the local licensing board before getting started.
For most jurisdictions, handyman work consists of:
- Minor residential repairs
- Drywall repair and painting
- Installing windows and doors
- Assembling and installing cabinets
- Installing flooring or wall tiles
Specialty work, including plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems, may require a special license.
Is There a Specific Handyman License in New York?
There is no specific handyman license in New York state. However, several cities or counties do offer licenses for handypersons. Examples include:
- New York City requires a Home Improvement Contractor license for work over $200
- Westchester County offers a Home Improvement Contractor license for any home improvement work in the county
- Nassau County requires a Home Improvement Contractor license for any home improvement work done in the county
- The City of Buffalo requires a contractor’s license for any home improvement work completed in the city
New York Handyman License Requirements
Thanks to variability in regulation throughout the state, there are often questions about how to get a handyman license in New York. In reality, however, there are no statewide requirements to be met for you to become a handyman.
Certain municipalities have requirements of their own, however. For example, New York City requires any contractor performing home improvement projects valued at over $200 to have a Home Improvement Contractor license. The requirements for that are:
- Complete a Basic License application
- Submit your sales tax ID number (apply for your Certificate of Authority here)
- Provide proof of
- business and home addresses
- EPA certification
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- DCWP Trust Fund Enrollment or surety bond
- Complete the Contractual Compliance Agreement
- Home improvement exam through Exam Builder and $50 exam fee
Other municipalities may have similar requirements. It is best to contact the local licensing board to get up-to-date information for the city and county where you plan to work.
Some jurisdictions may require a contractor’s license in place of a New York handyman license. Visit our New York general contractor license guide for more information. Additionally, the following articles may help let you know what to expect from being a handyman in New York:
- Can a Handyman Do a Remodel Job? (Bathroom, Kitchen & More)
- Are Handymen Cheaper Than a Contractor? By How Much?
- What Should a Handyman Be Able To Do? (Skills You Need)
- Does a Handyman Need a License? (What Kind and From Whom)
All businesses in New York State must carry workers’ compensation insurance on employees, including part-time workers and family members. You can purchase this through a private agent or the NYS Insurance Fund.
Additionally, you must obtain unemployment insurance through the NYS Department of Labor.
Depending on the jurisdiction where you will be working, you may also need to purchase commercial liability insurance. Many contractors opt to carry this insurance anyway to mitigate risks, whether required or not. Use the tool below to request a free commercial insurance quote from our partners.
Handyman Training and Certification Programs
There are several excellent construction-related training programs in New York, including those at several SUNY schools and local community colleges. Other notable programs include:
- Apex Technical School, Long Island City, NY
- Construction Training Centers of New York State, various locations, (585) 455-0293
- Onondaga Cortland Madison BOCES, Syracuse, NY (315) 433-2635
Specific certifications or memberships, such as obtaining a home inspector certificate or joining The Association of Certified Handyman Professionals, can lend credibility to your business. It is also essential to understand fundamental business principles, which you can gain through an online training program.
New York Handyman License Application
There is no universal New York handyman license; however, several cities and counties have their own application process. These are a few of the most common ones:
Handyman License New York FAQ
The many variables in obtaining a New York handyman license can confuse the process. However, the following answers can help clarify any questions you still have.
1. What Happens If I Do Not Have the Right License?
There are sometimes severe penalties for operating without the appropriate license. These include fines and possible jail time, and the inability to obtain a handyman license in the future. This is why you should always check with the local licensing board where you plan to perform handyman work.
2. Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?
If you still have questions about how to get a handyman license in New York, it is best to contact the local license board where you are located.
If you have general questions about starting a business in the state, contact the Division for Small Business at NYS Empire State Development. They are available Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. at (800) 782-8369.
For More License and Career Guides
To find out how to become a Handyman in another state, start here.
For information on other trades in New York, click on a link below to learn more about the licensing requirements: