For the state of Rhode Island, you may not need a license at the state level for commercial and residential contracting work. However, you will need to be licensed by the state for any underground utility work. For most types of general contracting projects, you only have to be registered, not licensed. Both processes will be handled through the Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board.
Knowing the rules, regulations, and parameters of your contractor work in Rhode Island (such as registering for a business, what documentation and fees need to accompany your application, and education and exams required, along with the cost of liability insurance) can help facilitate the process of registering to be a contractor, or help with obtaining your underground utility license. The Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board offers different processes for different contractor work. It is important to know when you need to be licensed, and what work you need to be registered for.
License Requirements for General Contractors in Rhode Island
A contractor, as defined by the State of Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board is anyone who is in the business of commercial construction, home construction, alterations, remodeling, or repair.
Additionally, the board defines an Underground Utility Contractor as anyone who performs the installation, repair, alteration, or replacement of underground utilities, sewer lines, storm drainage lines or water lines.
While you may not need to be licensed by the state to perform contracting work, you will need to hold a valid certificate of registration. For your contractor’s license, it is best you check with the regulations of your local county or city. You will, however, be required by the state to be licensed for underground utility contractor work. This also includes a pre-license application.
For both classifications, you will need to present the necessary contractors liability insurance and tax documentation, along with registering your business, if you have one, through the Rhode Island Secretary of State. Applicants may be required to undergo education before the registration or application process. Registration filing fees will be applied.
Who Needs a Contractors License in RI?
If you plan on bidding, advertising, or have a written agreement on any of the contractor work described above, you will need to be registered as a contractor, or licensed as an underground utility contractor. The State of Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board recognizes two main contracting registrations:
Contractor Registration: Registration will be needed for new, and previous or existing applicants performing work on any residential structures.
Underground Utility Contractor: A pre-license application will be needed to install, repair, or replace sewer and water lines, storage drainage lines, and related services.
Specialty trades, such as electrical, plumbing, and asbestos abatement will need to go through a separate application and licensing process — including exam and educational requirements, as well as additional fees.
What Do You Need To Register as a Contractor in Rhode Island?
For both a contractor registration and an underground utility contractors license, you must go through the Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board. Each process will be different, including required documents, education, and fees.
Contractor Registration Process:
New contractor registration applicants will be required to take five hours of pre-education courses before completing the registration application. If your previous or existing registration has expired before April 1, 2014, or after April 1, 2018, you will also be required to take five hours of continuing education before completing your renewal form.
After a new contractor registration applicant has completed their application, they must provide a signed and notarized affidavit. Previous holders, existing holders, and new contractor registration applicants will be required to present a certificate of liability insurance, as well as a business license (if applicable.) A registration filing fee will need to be included in the application. Registration is valid for two years.
Underground Utility Contractor Licensing Process:
Underground utility contractor applicants must first complete a pre-license application. Once you have received your designated license number, you must provide proof that you are a resident of Rhode Island — or out of state applicants can appoint a registered agent with an office operating in Rhode Island. Liability insurance and proof of workers compensation, if you have employees, must be submitted as well. An underground utility contractor may also be required to take an exam. Your underground utility contractor license will also come with fees and services.
Licensing and Registration Fee Summary
Application and administrative fees may be involved in both your contractors license registration and your underground utility contractor license application. Payments required for performing this contract work are as follows:
Contractor Registration Fees:
- $200 for a two-year registration
Underground Utility Contractor License Fees:
- $50 pre-license fee
- $200 license fee
- One time $10 photo ID fee
Payments for your contractors registration and underground utility license will be made through the Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board. You may pay by check, money order, and credit or debit card, but no cash. Payments can be made at:
560 Jefferson Blvd
Warwick, RI 02886
Rhode Island Contractors Exam
To obtain your underground utility license, you must pass an exam to prove your competency of the rules and regulations. Your underground utility contractors license exam, scheduling, fees, and locations can be found at the PSI Exams Online website.
Before completing the registration application, new contractors looking to perform contracting work on residential structures are required to complete five hours of pre-education courses. Previous or existing contractor registration applicants who will be performing work on commercial and residential structures will have to complete five hours of continued education before completing their renewal form. All courses will be taken through the Rhode Island Builders Association. Classes cost $12 per credit hour. For detailed information on purchasing and scheduling courses needed to obtain your contractors’ registration, visit the Rhode Island Builders Association website.
Contractors Exam Fees
While no exam is required for a contractor registration, five hours of education may be. Each credit hour will be $12. Find more details on courses offered, scheduling, fees, and locations at the Rhode Island Builders Association website.
An exam is required to obtain your underground utilities license and will cost you $50. Further instructions such as exam fees, scheduling, and locations can be found at the PSI Exams Online website.
Rhode Island Contractor Registration Documents
The process of obtaining your contractors registration, or your underground utility contractors license may look similar to other states. However, the State of Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board may require additional steps.
Rhode Island General Contractors License Application
Whether you are first applying or renewing your contractor registration, your application will look very similar, with minor deviations for both:
- Go through pre-education before applying for registration, or continual education before applying to renew.
- Complete application or renewal form. New applicants must obtain a signed and notarized affidavit as well.
- Submit a $500,000 certificate of insurance with the Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board as the holder. Show proof of workers’ compensation insurance if applicable.
- Pay a $200 registration fee (additional $35 late fee if previous/existing registration is expired.)
- Corporations or LLCs must have a certificate from the Secretary of State.
- Out-of-state applicants must provide an agent of service.Obtaining your underground utility contractor license will be different from registering to become a contractor. To acquire your underground utility contractors license, you will go through a process similar to this:
- Fill out a pre-license application to receive a pending license number
- Provide proof of residency, or an agent of service.
- Compete and notarize application.
- Access a $1,000,000 liability insurance certificate indicating the Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board.
- Obtain a 2-year bond, $20,000 through the board.
- Provide a certificate if you are a corporation or LLC.
- If applicable, provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance if you have employees.
- Pay $200 licensing fee.
- Obtain your Photo ID
- Take, pass, and submit exam results.
While proof of insurance is required as part of your application for licensure, you do not need to get bonded until you are preparing to work on a specific project. Be sure to research local construction bond companies once you are licensed to get the best bond cost.
Aside from surety bonds, the state of Rhode Island is required to also obtain a performance bond in order to accept state-funded projects that are an estimated $50,000 or more.
Rhode Island State Business Licenses and Registration
For additional information on other business and occupational licenses needed to go into business as a general contracting company, visit the State of Rhode Island Professional License Renewal website.
Rhode Island Business Registration
For general information on how to obtain business and occupational licenses and permits, take a look at the State of Rhode Island Department of Business Registration website.
Rhode Island Tax Identification Numbers and Registration
Businesses that operate within Rhode Island 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. View the State of Rhode Island Business Registration webpage on the Division of Taxation section for more information about business registration and your tax obligations.
Rhode Island 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 state workers’ compensation insurance program. Learn more about workers’ compensation at the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Workers’ Compensation tab.
Rhode Island Contractor Business License Lookup and Verification
The Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board can help you find and verify a registered/licensed contractor in Rhode Island by registration/license number, contractor type, and company name.