There is a large chance that a general contractor in Pennsylvania will have to register as a home improvement contractor with the PA Attorney General. This state-level registration may be needed to perform contractor services in your local jurisdiction. Overall, your Pennsylvania contractors license, as with plumber or electrician licensing, will be managed at the city level.
Additionally, contracting businesses will need to know which agency to register with to legally operate in Pennsylvania. A PA contractor will need to obtain general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance, tax ID numbers, and more.
Some cities in Pennsylvania may require contractors to obtain a surety bond prior to beginning work on any type of construction project. A surety bond is used to protect both you and the client for any project, so a given client or project may require you to obtain a larger bond for complete coverage, increasing the overall cost of a project. The cost of a bond will vary with each project, so it is important to investigate multiple bond companies to ensure you get the best rate. Different locations may require bonds in addition to liability insurance, or only require liability coverage, so it pays to investigate the laws in your area.
Below, we examine what it takes and all the necessary steps to become a general contractor in some major cities of Pennsylvania.
PA Home Improvement Contractors License
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Protection Act is the law that governs the registration of home improvement contractors. The Act allows for an exemption for the registration requirement if the value of the home improvements will total under $5,000.
General contractors can register for a home improvement contractor license on the Pennsylvania Attorney General official website. The registration process requires the use of a credit card to pay the application fee of $50.00. There is an additional processing fee of $1.28.
Individual applicants must provide the following information as part of the registration process:
- Basic identifying information such as the following:
- Full name;
- Date of birth;
- Home address and telephone number;
- Copy of driver’s license or state-issued ID Card;
- Social Security Number;
- Business name, address, and telephone number;
- Federal tax identification number;
For a corporation, LLC, or partnership, the following is required for each partner, manager, or other officers in the company:
- Full name;
- Date of birth;
- Home address and telephone number;
- Name of every investor with more than a 5 percent interest;
- All prior business names and addresses of home improvement businesses operated by each partner or manager in the company;
After registering, the general contractor will be issued a registration certificate by mail. This certificate number must be included on any advertising, contracts, estimate forms, and written offers used by the contractor.
General Contractor License Philadelphia, PA
Getting a general contractor’s license in Philadelphia is required to perform any work for which the contractor will receive $500 or more. To become a licensed contractor, you must apply to the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections.
All applications for a general contractor’s license must include proof that a supervisor of the applicant has successfully completed OSHA-30 Safety Training within the past five years.
It’s also important to note that all workers on a construction or demolition site must have successfully completed an OSHA-10 Safety Training course.
Steps to Apply for a General Contractor’s License in Philadelphia
Before you can pull any building permits, and before you perform any general contracting work in Philadelphia, you must apply for your general contractors license. Let the information below serve as a general outline of how to apply for a contractors license in Philadelphia:
- Download and fill out the Philadelphia contractor license application.
- Gather proof of the following:
- Employer’s liability insurance coverage for $100,000 per accident;
- Workers’ compensation insurance;
- General liability insurance coverage for $500,000 per occurrence;
- Motor vehicle liability insurance coverage for $300,000;
- A Philadelphia business tax number;
- A city commercial activity license;
There is a non-refundable application fee of $20, which is applied toward the cost of the license, if approved. Your license fee is $100 and is only valid for one year. General contractors must reapply every year.
All application material can be sent or delivered personally to:
Department of Licenses and Inspection
Customer Care Unit – PSC
1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19102
General Contractors License Pittsburg, PA
In the City of Pittsburgh, any general contractor wishing to conduct either new construction or improvement work on either residential or commercial property must be registered by the city before beginning any work — including demolition work. Your registration process will be conducted through the City of Pittsburg Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections. As such, you will need to adhere to the department’s requirements.
Steps to Register as a General Contractor in Pittsburgh
Your Pittsburg contractor registration will ask that you provide specific information and documents. Read the outline below for the info and requirements that will be asked of you as part of your registration application.
- Download and fill out the Pittsburgh application for contractor registration. The application is very simple and straightforward but must be completed carefully.
- Determine the current license fee (which changes every year) by checking the current fee schedule.
- Complete a check made out to “Treasurer, City of Pittsburgh,” for the indicated amount of the fee.
Additional Application Requirements
In addition to the completed application and licensing fee, general contractor license applicants must submit the following:
- Proof of identification showing applicant is at least 18 years of age;
- A certificate of insurance with “The City of Pittsburgh” as the holder of the document proving the following:
- A general liability limit of at least $300,000;
- Workers’ compensation insurance (unless legally exempted);
- Proof of registration to fulfill all city tax requirements (City Tax ID, for example);
- Proof of contractor bond;
All application material can be mailed or delivered personally to the following address:
City of Pittsburgh
Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections
200 Ross Street – Room 320
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
The City of Pittsburgh’s licensing department can also be reached by telephone at 412-255-2858.
General Contractor License Scranton, PA
The city must license general contractors wishing to work within the City of Scranton. The Scranton Department of Licensing, Inspections, and Permits will require you to specify your business structure, fulfill particular requirements according to your business structure, and pass an exam, among other prerequisites, to become a licensed contractor in Scranton.
Steps to Apply for a General Contractor’s License in Scranton
In the case of an individual applicant, the applicant must pass the general contractor’s license test with a score of 70 percent or higher.
For partnerships, the test must be taken and passed by at least one partner. In the case of a corporation, the test must be taken and passed by an officer in the leadership structure, and this officer will be the representative of the corporation for licensing purposes.
The exam fee is $150 and is non-refundable. Applicants can call (570) 348-4193 to schedule a test.
Applicants will be sent an exam score report by mail.
Your application for a contractors license for the City of Scranton will ask you for additional information and to gather documentation such as:
- A copy of applicant’s driver’s license showing age of at least 18 years;
- Letters of recommendation from previous clients indicating similar work done before;
- A certificate of general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance;
- A copy of Pennsylvania home improvement contractors registration;
- Proof of six (6) hours of continuing education in construction for the past year;
- A check or money order in the amount of $250 payable to the City of Scranton;
Send the completed application, test score report, application fee, and all supplemental material to:
Scranton City Hall
340 N Washington Ave
Scranton, PA 18503
PA Business License
You may need to register with several Pennsylvania agencies depending on specific circumstances related to your business. Your business structure, location of your business (domestic or foreign), and more factors will determine if you will have to register with:
- Pennsylvania Department of State
- Pennsylvania Department of Revenue
- Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry
PA Tax Registration
Businesses that operate within Pennsylvania are required to register for one or more tax-specific identification numbers, licenses or permits, including income tax withholding, sales and use tax (seller’s permit), and unemployment insurance tax. Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue for more information about business registration and your tax obligations.
PA Workers’ Compensation Insurance Requirements and Forms
Businesses with employees are required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis, or through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
PA Contractor License Search
To look up and verify a home improvement contractors license in Pennsylvania but license number, business name, or city, visit the Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Information database.