How to Get a Contractor’s License in New York

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Surety Bond Professionals is a family-owned and operated bonding agency with over 30 years of experience. With access to a broad range of surety markets, our expert agents are ready to assist with all of your New York contractor license bond needs. Learn how to get a contractor’s license in New York, below.

What Contractor Licenses Are Issued in New York?

New York doesn’t have a statewide licensing requirement for contractors. However, some New York municipal and county governments issue their own licenses for general contractors, typically referred to as home improvement contractors. This is the case in New York City and Buffalo, as well as in Nassau, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties.

You’ll need to check with local authorities in the area in which you will be working to see what licensing requirements might apply.

What Are the Steps in the Licensing Process?

The licensing process varies by jurisdiction, but there are certain common elements. The following items are typical of what may need to be included when you submit your application packet to the local licensing authority:

  • Evidence that your business is properly registered with the state
  • Proof of your business name and personal identity and residence
  • Proof of general liability insurance and, if you have employees, workers’ compensation insurance
  • Authorization for a criminal background check
  • A completed contractor license application
  • Financial statements and/or a New York contractor license surety bond
  • Payment for applicable license-related fees

Why is a Contractor License Bond Required?

Local licensing authorities that require a New York contractor license bond (also known as a New York home improvement contractor license bond) do so to help ensure that contractors working in their jurisdiction comply with municipal building codes and all applicable ordinances and rules.

This kind of surety bond indemnifies the licensing authority against responsibility for any financial loss a client experiences due to a licensed contractor’s violation of the terms of the surety bond agreement. It also provides a way for the injured party to be compensated for such a loss.

How Are Contractor License Bond Claims Paid?

When a claim is submitted, the surety company (the “surety” for short) first will make sure it’s valid and then may attempt to negotiate a settlement. If no settlement can be reached, and the contractor doesn’t pay the claim promptly, the surety will step in and pay the claim on behalf of the contractor.

However, the terms of the surety bond agreement, a legally binding contract, make the contractor solely responsible for paying valid claims. In paying a claim on behalf of the contractor, the surety is extending credit to the contractor and creating a debt that the surety is legally obligated to repay.

How Much Does A New York Contractor License Bond Cost?

The premium for a New York contractor license bond is a small percentage of the required bond amount, which is established by the local licensing authority. The percentage, the premium rate, is set by the surety, based largely on the contractor’s personal credit score. A high credit score indicates there’s a low risk the contractor won’t repay the surety for claims paid on the contractor’s behalf.

The higher the contractor’s credit score, the lower the premium rate. With good credit, the premium rate should be in the standard market rate range of one to three percent.

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