Can You Get a Contractor’s License if You’re Not a US Citizen?

Wondering if you can get a contractor’s license in your state, despite not being a US citizen?

We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of whether you can get a contractor’s license in America if you’re not a US citizen, including what you can expect from the licensing process and what documentation you require to get a license.

Let’s dig in.

What is a Contractor’s License?

A contractor’s license is a legal verifier that allows individuals or companies to engage in construction activities within the scope of the law. It’s a way to ensure that contractors meet certain standards of quality, safety, and professionalism, while also ensuring that unscrupulous contractors who can cause physical, environmental, or financial damages are prevented from doing construction work.

Licenses are typically issued by state or local government agencies and may be required for various types of construction work, from general contracting to specialized trades like electrical, plumbing, and HVAC.

Usually, contractors’ licenses are specific to your trade or area of expertise. In California, for instance, you have over 50 different types of construction licenses, from Class B General Contractor licenses to highly specialized Class C licenses covering trades like landscaping and low-voltage electrical.

Do You Need a Contractor’s License to Do Construction?

The requirement for a contractor’s license depends on the state or locality and the type of construction work being performed. In general, most states require a license for major construction projects, especially those exceeding a certain monetary threshold.

For example, in Mississippi, a license is required for general contracting work on projects valued above $50,000. In California, you need a contractor’s license if you do construction work on any job valued over $500 in materials and labor! However, the rules can vary, so it’s important to check the specific requirements in your area.

Consequences of Doing Unlicensed Construction Work

Operating without a valid contractor’s license can lead to serious consequences, including:

  • Heavy fines, damage reparation payments, and other financial penalties
  • Legal action and lawsuits
  • Inability to enforce contracts
  • Damage to reputation and credibility
  • Higher costs and overcharges
  • Jail or prison if you are a repeat offender

Seriously – they can throw you in jail for doing unlicensed contracting work in many states. If your state has a licensing requirement, you should get a contractor’s license. The consequences of not doing so can be life-changing and brutal!

Can You Get a Contractor’s License if You’re Not a US Citizen?

Yes, non-US citizens can obtain a contractor’s license in the United States. However, the specific requirements vary by state.

Generally, you’ll need to meet the same qualifications as US citizens, which may include passing exams, providing proof of experience, and obtaining insurance and bonding. Some states might also require a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

However, in many states, it’s absolutely not a requirement to be licensed.

How to Get a Contractor’s License if You’re Not a US Citizen

  • Identify the Requirements: Check with your state’s licensing board to understand the specific requirements for obtaining a contractor’s license. Usually, the requirements include age, experience, bonds and insurance, and examination requirements.
  • Obtain an ITIN: If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you may need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes. Almost every contractor’s license will require an SSN, EIN, or ITIN to receive a license.
  • Complete the Application: Fill out the necessary application forms, which may require personal information, proof of experience, and details about your business.
  • Pass the Exams: Most states require passing a general business and law exam and a trade-specific exam to verify your knowledge and experience.
  • Obtain Insurance and Bonding: You’ll likely need to provide proof of general liability insurance and a construction bond to receive a contractor’s license.
  • Submit Your Application: Once you’ve gathered all the required documents, submit your application to the state licensing board, along with any applicable fees.
  • Maintain Your License: Once you’ve obtained your license, ensure you comply with any continuing education requirements and renew your license as needed. Many licenses require renewal every two years, but it could be more frequent, depending on your area.

Many states do not require contractor’s licenses, so if you’re in one of those states, you’re in luck! You don’t have to do any of this!


Obtaining a contractor’s license or doing construction work as a non-US citizen is possible, but it requires careful attention to the specific legal requirements of the state where you plan to work.

The main thing to look out for is contractor’s licenses and the various laws surrounding them. You must follow the proper steps and stay compliant with all rules and regulations surrounding construction, lest you face the very serious consequences of falling afoul of these laws.

For more detailed information, it’s advisable to consult the licensing board or regulatory agency in your state or locality.

This entry was posted in Construction, Contractor Business, Contractor Jobs, Tips on by .

About CSLS

Contractors State License Service (CSLS) is the largest school in California devoted to the Construction professional. For over 23 years, CSLS has helped its students pass the exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California, licensing more students than any other school. From our main offices in Southern California, CSLS operates over 25 locations with full-service support and classrooms. We have grown to this extent by providing quality, professional services. In comparison, this provides 7 times the number of convenient locations than the second largest contractor school. Contractors State License Services is one of the only contractor schools in the state that is run by educators, not lawyers or people mostly interested in the bonding and insurance business. Contractors State License Services formerly operated under the oversight of the State of California's Bureau for Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education. As of January 1 2010, the new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) came into existence replacing the BPPVE. CSLS now operates under the provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (CPPEA), Article 4 Section 94874(f). Our Mission is simple; We can help you pass your California Contractors License Exam. Celebrating our 25th year, CSLS has helped over 120,000 students pass the California contractor licensing exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California. Additionally, we offer complete home study and online contractor’s license programs to help you pass your California contractors license exam. CSLS offers licensing classes for all types of contractor licenses, including General Engineering Contractor, General Building Contractor, Specialty Contractor, Insulation and Acoustical Contractor, Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor, Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Drywall Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Elevator Contractor, Landscaping Contractor, Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor, and many others. For a complete list of contractor licenses, visit and tuned for more informative posts.