How to Become a General Contractor in Washington


General contractors, also called project engineers or construction managers, manage construction sites from the onset of a project until the project is complete. They may own their own contracting business or they may be salaried employees working for a development firm. General contractors perform all types of building tasks while specialty contractors perform only one type of building task. In Washington, both general and specialty contractors must register with the Department of Labor & Industries. While registration is required, tests and classes are not required to become a Washington contractor.

Things You'll Need

  • Application for Contractor Registration
  • Bonding documentation
  • Liability insurance documentation
  • Register with the Washington Secretary of State through their website (see resources) or by calling 360-753-7115 if you are opening a corporation or limited liability company. Fees are approximately $175.

  • Get a UBI (Uniform Business Identifier number) that will allow you to conduct business within Washington State by submitting a Master Business Application form. Pay fees of approximately $15 to $20. You can apply online (see resources) or in person at the Labor & Industries office or Department of Revenue.

  • Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS if you are planning on hiring other workers. The EIN is used to identify employers' tax accounts.

  • Fill out the Washington State Application for Contractor Registration to register as a general contractor. Get the form notarized by your local Labor and Industries office.

  • Get a surety bond or assignment of account in the amount of $12,000 as a general contractor through a bonding or insurance company. Obtain an original copy of the bond as part of your registration. Surety bonds generally cost between 1% and 3% but can be as high as 5% to 20% depending on factors, such as the applicant's business and personal financial statements and credit history.

  • Get liability insurance of $50,000 for property damage and $200,00 for public liability or $250,000 combined policy. Obtain original insurance policy for registration.

  • Pay registration fees of $113.40 for two years (fees as of June 30, 2007). Additional fees may apply (see resources).

  • Submit your registration to your local Labor and Industries office location.

Tips & Warnings

  • Working as a contractor without registering can result in penalty of $1000 per site, per day.

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  • Photo Credit Hard working construction worker at a construction scene. image by Andy Dean from
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