To become a general contractor in South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations will require you to pass a business and law exam as well as a trade exam. Additionally, if you plan on performing general contracting work as a company, you will have to determine if you will have to apply for a local business license or with the Secretary of State. Your general liability and bond insurance requirements may change depending on what level you’re licensed at.
Although the licensing process is relatively straightforward, you will make decisions regarding which license you need to apply for, scheduling and taking your exams, as well as paying the related fees. The process for getting your general contractors license in South Carolina, as with all states, is worth exploring to make things as effortless as possible.
South Carolina General Contractor License Requirements
South Carolina legislature, section 40-11-20, defines general construction as “the installation, replacement, or repair of a building, structure, highway, sewer, grading, asphalt or concrete paving, or improvement of any kind to real property.”
The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation offers several licenses that fall under this definition. According to the scope of your work, you will be required to apply for (and receive) one or more licenses before performing contracting work. In addition to your application, you will also need to pass the business and law and trade exam through PSI Exams. Required documents, responsibilities, and exams will depend on the type of license you are applying for.
Who Needs a Contractors License?
General contracting work falls under several categories in South Carolina. Depending on your work parameters, you will have to apply for one, or potentially a combination of, the following licenses:
General and Mechanical Contractor: A general and/or mechanical contractors license application will be needed for general contractors bidding on commercial, general, or mechanical work over $5000.
Residential Home Builder and Manufactured Housing Contractor: You will need to submit a residential home builder license application for the construction, or supervision of construction, repair, improvement of one, two, or multi-family residences. Alternatively, for the installation and repair of manufactured homes, a manufactured housing contractor application is needed.
Residential Specialty Contractor: A residential specialty contractor license application is required for the independent contracting work for performing specialty trades such as plumbing, electrician, and HVAC. Residential specialty contractors will be contracted with licensed residential builders, general contractors, or property owners.
There are separate licenses and application requirements for those looking to become electrical or plumbing contractors respectively.
What Do You Need To Become a General Contractor in South Carolina?
The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation requires every applicant for the licenses above to pass the business and law, and if applicable, technical exam. Passing exam scores must be included with each application. Depending on your scope of work (which license you will be applying for) you will need additional documentation.
SC Contractor Licensing and Registration Fee Summary
Your licensing and application fees will vary according to the technical exams you will need to take, as well as if you are late in renewing your license. In general, your licensing and application fees will look comparable to the following:
General and Mechanical Contractor:
- $350 biannual licensing fee
- $135 biennial renewal fee
- $100+ late renewal fee
Residential Home Builders Contractor AND Specialty Trade Contractors:
- $100 application fee
- $160 licensing fee (if issued on or between July 1 even year – June 30 odd year)
- $80 licensing fee (if issued on or between July 1 odd year – June 30 even year)
Manufactured Housing Contractor:
- $300 licensing fee for a manufacturer
- $100 licensing fee for a contractor, installer, or repairer
- $10 license update
All fees can be made to the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The board accepts a certified check or money order and can be mailed to:
For General and Specialty Contractor Licenses:
South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 11329
Columbia, S.C. 29211
For Manufactured Housing Contractor License:
Residential Builders Commission
PO Box 11329
Columbia, S.C. 29211
South Carolina Contractors Exam
Before sending in any application, you will need to take a business and law exam, and a technical exam if applicable. For all details including scheduling, testing centers, materials excepted, and associated fees, visit the South Carolina Contractors Licensing Board Commercial Contractor Candidate Information Bulletin provided by PSI Exams.
South Carolina Contractors License Application
Aside from required exams, South Carolina Contractors Licensing Board requires additional documents to be sent in with your application. For each contractors license above, a complete application should be comparable to as detailed below:
General and Mechanical Contractors License Application:
- Business and law and technical examination score sheet.
- Financial Statement Option – in which you will have to submit a notarized financial statement in your business name.
- Surety Bond Option – Contractor bonds, such as surety bonds, are for the benefit of any person damaged or breach of the construction contract. The surety bond amount must be two times the net worth of the applicant licensing group for renewal. These bonds can be obtained through bonding companies or some business insurance policies.
- Register your business either locally, or with the South Carolina Secretary of State.
- Licensing application fees.
Residential Home Builders and Specialty Contractors License Application:
- Copy of driver’s license (or other secure and verifiable document), and Social Security card.
- Notarized Verification of Lawful Presence Form.
- Copy of necessary W-2s and 1099s from the employer who fills out your affidavit of experience.
- Provide transcripts, resumes, and certifications showing proof of work experience of trade applying for.
- Written explanations if you answered yes under the General Information section of your application.
- If you answered yes to any arrests or convictions, submit a Statewide Background Check from the state where the incident occurred.
- Must pass a credit check.
- Include exam scores.
- Licensing application fees.
Manufactured Housing Contractor License Application:
- Copy of driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport, and Social Security card.
- Must pass a SLED background check.
- Clear a Statewide Criminal Background check of states resided in for the past seven years.
- Provide a credit card report, or financial statement prepared by a Certified Public Accountant.
- Show proof of registration with the South Carolina Department of Revenue.
- If your business structure needs to, show proof of registration with the Secretary of State.
- Provide proof of completion for repair, installer, or contractor training, as well as business and law exam score.
- Licensing application fees.
South Carolina State Business Licenses and Registration
Depending on what type of business structure you own, you may have to obtain a local business license through your city’s, towns, or municipality, as well your local county such as, Beaufort, Charleston, Dorchester, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Richland, Sumter. To understand if you need to register your business locally, visit the South Carolina Department of Commerce website.
South Carolina Business Registration
Business corporations, limited liability companies/partnerships, and nonprofit corporations are required to register through the South Carolina Secretary of State. Businesses and independent contractors in South Carolina may also be required to have liability insurance to commence work or bid on projects. State or municipal planning bodies may require you to present your certificate of insurance, as well as your contractors license when you take new jobs.
South Carolina Tax Identification Numbers and Registration
Businesses that operate within South Carolina 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 South Carolina Department of Revenue for more information about business registration and your tax obligations.
South Carolina 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 South Carolina Workers Compensation Commission website.
South Carolina Contractor License Lookup and Verification
To lookup and verify a contractor or business license, search by name or number through the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation database.
See general contractor licensing information in nearby states
- NC contractor license
- General contractor license GA
- Tennessee contractors license
- Florida contractors license
For More License and Career Guides
To find out how to become a General Contractor in another state, start here.
For information on other trades in South Carolina, click on a link below to learn more about the licensing requirements: