In some ways, becoming a general contractor in Washington will look the same as other states. You will complete your registration and application process through the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, pay a registration fee, and wait to receive word that you can begin to perform contracting work. However, the state of Washington has additional regulations and requirements that must be met during the process of becoming a general contractor. Like most states, Washington also has separate applications and requirements for both electricians and plumbers.
To become a general contractor in the state of Washington, you must first determine the work you will be doing to register properly. You will also need to understand and meet all of the business requirements – determining your business structure and if you need to register with the Secretary of State, obtaining your IRS employee ID number if you plan on employing workers, and receiving bond insurance.
Furthermore, there are documents to be notarized, as well as additional fees across the whole process. As with any state, knowing the requirements in becoming a general contractor in Washington will make your process go smoothly while adhering to state, local county, or city regulations.
Washington State Contractor Registration Requirements
Washington state legislature, title 18, chapter 18.27 defines a contractor as:
“…any person, firm, corporation, or other entity who or which, in the pursuit of an independent business undertakes to, or offers to undertake, or submits a bid to, construct, alter, repair, add to, subtract from, improve, develop, move, wreck, or demolish any building, highway, road, railroad, excavation or other structure, project, development, or improvement attached to real estate…”
Washington separates contracting work into two separate descriptions. While you will not be required to be licensed at the state level, you will have to register as one or the other through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Your registration will be as one of the two options below:
General Contractor: if you are performing or supervising multiple building trades or crafts.
Specialty Contractor: if you are performing only one building trade or craft. Visit the Washington State Legislature site for a list of specialty contracting trades.
There are specific trades in which Washington requires licensing and exams at the state level, such as electricians and plumbers. To make sure you are complying with regulations, check with your local county or city when determining to register or apply for licensing for a specific trade.
What Do You Need To Become a General Contractor in Washington?
To register as a general contractor in the two classifications above, you will need to meet several requirements before completing your application. Before you do anything, you must determine your business structure.
Corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability companies will need to register with the Secretary of State before continuing with the application process. If you are going to perform work as a sole proprietor, or general partnership, you will need to apply for a business license application. This will provide you with a Uniform Business Identifier number (UBI#).
Next, you must become bonded and insured. You’ll need to obtain a Washington Continuous Contractor Surety Bond of $12,000 for general contracting and $6,000 for specialty contracting. Different bonding companies offer different rates depending on your credit history and coverage requirements.
If you plan to have employees, you must acquire your IRS Employer ID number. At this point, you can begin to fill out your contractor registration application. Proof of a surety bond and liability insurance, along with your registration fee, will need to be attached when you submit your application to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.
The simplest way to submit your application is to walk into your local labor and industries office. However, you can mail your application in, along with all the necessary paperwork, to:
Department of Labor and Industries
Contractor Registration Section
PO Box 44450
Olympia, WA 98504–4450
Registration Fee Summary
Registering for either a general contractor or specialty contractor will cost virtually the same — as it is the same process. The fees attached to your registration requirements will be:
- Registering and licensing your business:
- If corporation or partnerships described above – $180+
- If sole proprietor – $19 – $24 for a regular business application
- Registration Fee – $113.40 for two years.
Washington Contractors Exams
While registering to become a general or specialty contractor doesn’t require you to take and pass an exam, other trades such as electrical work will. To further understand if you need to be licensed or registered, if you need to take exams, and further requirements of specific trades, visit the Washington State Department of Licensing and Registration trades and licensing page.
Washington Contractors Registration Application
Registering to become both a general or specialty contractor will be the same process, and will go through the same form. Your general or specialty registration process will look similar to this:
- Choose your business structure.
- Corporate structures need to register with the Secretary of State.
- All business structures must fill out a business license application.
- Obtain your employer identification number if you plan on hiring employees.
- Complete application for general or specialty contractor.
- Purchase bond and liability insurance.
- Pay the registration fee.
- Submit registration and required documents to your local licensing and registration office.
Washington State Business Licenses and Registration
The state of Washington will require you to obtain a business license before performing contractor work. For corporate structures, you will need to register with the Secretary of State. All other business entities will need to complete a business license application through the State of Washington Business Licensing Service website.
Washington Tax Identification Numbers and Registration
Businesses that operate within Washington 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. For more details, visit the Washington State Department of Revenue website.
Washington 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. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries can fill you in on more information about Workers’ Compensation requirements.
Washington Contractor Lookup and Verification
Reference the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to verify a contractor, tradesperson, or business operating in the state of Washington.