In July 2020, Florida changed its contractor licensing statute to make it easier for contractors who have been licensed in other states for at least 10 years to obtain a Florida contractor license without having to take a licensing exam. While Florida has not entered into any formal reciprocity agreements with other states, we do finally have guidance on exactly how to apply for a Florida contractor license using an existing license from another state. The good news is: It’s a much simpler process than anticipated and does not require a licensing exam.
The new 10-year rule applies to nearly every type of contractor license in Florida, including residential, builder, general, HVAC, plumbing, pool, electrical, and specialty contractors. Out-of-state license holders must meet the following requirements to become a licensed Florida contractor:
- Have been licensed in their state for 10 years in the same category that they will be applying for in Florida.
- The existing license must be active or have been active within the last two years.
- For certified general, building, residential, and roofing contractors, take a two-hour Department of Business and Professional Regulation-approved (DBPR) course on the Florida Building Code, including information on wind mitigation techniques.
- Pay a filing fee to the Florida DBPR.
- Obtain electronic fingerprints from an Florida Department of Law Enforcement-approved vendor.
- Submit a personal credit report (NOTE: If your credit score is below 660, you will need to obtain a contractor’s bond in the amount of $10,000-$20,000, depending on license type. This can be cut in half by taking a 14-hour financial responsibility course).
- If you plan to operate in Florida through a business entity, you must also submit a credit report for your business.
- Pass a background check.
- Have commercial general liability insurance with limits ranging from $100,000 to $300,000, depending on license type.
- Obtain workers’ compensation insurance or be exempt.
It appears that Florida is now fully open for business for licensed contractors in other states to obtain a license and begin work in Florida.