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California State License Board
Contractors License and Performance Bonds
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Construction is one of the largest industries in California's diverse economy, affording numerous opportunities for success. With approximately 280,000 contractor licenses currently issued, the Contractors State License Board receives more than 25,000 applications for new licenses each year.

This booklet answers many of the most frequently asked questions about what is needed to qualify for and obtain a contractor's license. The procedure for obtaining a contractor's license makes becoming a licensed contractor more convenient than ever--there are testing sites located statewide, and now you can check on the status of your application via our toll-free telephone number or Web site 24 hours a day.

However, merely holding a contractor's license does not make for a successful contractor. You must be skilled in the chosen craft and diligent in business affairs--one or the other is not good enough! You (and your employees) must be willing and able to perform to acceptable trade standards and according to plans and specifications. To survive in an increasingly competitive market, you must also fulfill your duties and responsibilities as a licensed and regulated business in California.

Besides licensing contractors, the Contractors State License Board handles more than 20,000 construction-related complaints a year. As our testing services for potential contractors have expanded, so have our enforcement activities against unlicensed contractors in the underground economy and unscrupulous licensed contractors. Consumer protection and construction productivity must co-exist in California, and we're seeing that they do by emphasizing enforcement education for the consumer as well as for the contractor.

Study beyond what you need to pass the test. Continue upgrading your skills in your craft and in business matters. Read the educational articles in each issue of the California Licensed Contractor, a newsletter you will receive when licensed. Take advantage of other educational opportunities as they arise because only by mastering both your craft and your business can you ensure success.

Contractors State License Board

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) was established in 1929 as the Contractors License Bureau under the Department of Professional and Vocational Standards. Today, the CSLB is part of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

A fifteen-member appointed board elects the CSLB's executive officer, or registrar of contractors, and directs administrative policy for the agency's operations. This appointed board includes nine public members (eight non contractors and one local building official), five contractors, and one labor representative. Eleven appointments are made by the Governor and four are made by the Legislature. The board holds regularly scheduled public meetings throughout the state. These meetings provide the public an opportunity to testify on agenda items and other issues.

The CSLB licenses and regulates contractors in 43 license classifications that constitute the construction industry. Currently, there are approximately 280,000 licensed contractors in the state of California. The registrar oversees approximately 380 employees who work at the headquarters office in Sacramento and field offices throughout the state.

The headquarters staff receives and processes applications for new contractors' licenses, additional classifications, changes of license records, and license renewals. They also review and maintain records of disciplinary actions initiated by the field offices, provide verified certificates of licensure used in court or other actions, provide the status of licensure and other support services.

Headquarters directs the activities of field offices and initiates disciplinary actions resulting from their investigations. Field office staff investigate consumer complaints against contractors. The Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) focuses on unlicensed activity.

Visit CSLB's Web site,, where one can look up a contractor by license number or by name and obtain the licensee's business name and address, license status, disclosable complaints and CSLB legal actions (if any), classifications held, business type, bond and workers' compensation information. Also, applicants can check the status of an application online. (see Question 19)

The same information is available on the CSLB's automated public information line, 1-800-321-CSLB (2752), which operates 24 hours a day. Callers can determine whether or not a contractor's license is valid by entering the contractor's license number. The information provided includes the licensee's business name, license status, classifications held, business type, and disclosable complaints and CSLB legal actions (if any). They may also listen to recorded information on licensing and examination procedures, complaint procedures and how to obtain more information on legal actions, the location and hours of CSLB offices, and current topics such as recently passed laws or regulations. Callers can also order forms, applications and other publications.

The CSLB offers a variety of publications that guide consumers in making informed choices when contracting for home repairs and improvements. Check our Web site for details.

State Board's Mission

The Contractors State License Board protects consumers by regulating the construction industry through policies that promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the public in matters relating to construction.

The Contractors State License Board will accomplish this by:

red button Ensuring that construction is performed in a safe, competent and professional manner;
red button Licensing contractors and enforcing licensing laws;
red button Requiring that any person practicing or offering to practice construction contracting be licensed;
red button Enforcing the laws, regulations and standards governing construction contracting in a fair and uniform manner;
red button Providing resolution to disputes that arise from construction activities; and
red button Educating consumers so that they may make informed choices.


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