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Mississippi requires that both commercial and residential contractors, including roofers, obtain a license from the Mississippi State Board of Contractors. The license process involves an application, examination, and other documents like reference letters and proof of employment. Because the application needs to be notarized, Mississippi does not accept online contractor examinations.

The first step is determining what type of license you need. Read on to learn how the Mississippi contractor licensing process works and everything you need to know about getting licensed.

How to get a Mississippi contractors license

All state contractor licensing is a function of the Mississippi State Board of Contractors (MSBOC). There are two main licenses, and each has its own requirements. One general rule is that all contractors will have to take a Law and Business Management Exam.

Commercial contractor license

Contractors performing commercial projects in excess of $50,000 will require a commercial contractor’s license. Also, any work on fire sprinkler systems over $5,000 ($10,000 on a residential job) requires a commercial license.

This includes plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and a slew of other sub types.

To apply, you’ll need to fill out this application

The requirements are as follows:

  1. Fill out the application in its entirety and have it notarized.
  2. If the business is a corporation or LLC, it must be registered with the Mississippi Secretary of State.
  3. Produce a Mississippi sales tax number.
  4. Provide proof of general liability insurance: $300,000 per occurrence, $600,000 aggregate.
  5. Provide three reference letters: one from the bank, two from anyone the applicant worked with or for on construction projects.
  6. Show three projects the applicant has worked on related to the field in which they’re applying.
  7. Establish a qualifying party and provide proof of employment.
  8. Provide a reviewed and audited financial statement prepare by a CPA showing a net worth of $50,000 for major classifications and $20,000 for specialties.
  9. Submit a $400 application fee which includes the major classification and one specialty.  For any additional specialties, it’s an additional $100.
  10. Take and pass the examination.

During the application process, the applicant will have an opportunity to choose a classification and specialty. There are eight major classifications, each of which has several subclassifications:

  • Building construction
  • Electrical
  • Highway street and bridge construction
  • Heavy construction
  • Mechanical (including plumbing and HVAC)
  • Municipal and public works
  • Fire sprinkler 
  • Solar and wind construction

As a note: Plumbers, electricians, and HVAC contractors performing work valued in excess of $10,000 need to carry a commercial license. Both plumber and HVAC contractors fall under the mechanical classification, while electrical contractors fall under the electrical classification.

Contractors can apply for the major classification or a specialty, depending on their trade.

After submitting the application and passing the exam, the board will contact you within seven to ten days to issue your license.

Residential contractor license

Any residential construction valued over $50,000 requires a residential contractor’s license. 

Applying for a residential contractor’s license is a bit more straightforward, as there are fewer choices. The process does still go through the Mississippi State Board of Contractors, though this designation requires a different application

The steps for application are fairly similar:

  1. Fill out the application in its entirety and have it notarized.
  2. If the business is a corporation or LLC, it must be registered with the Mississippi Secretary of State.
  3. Produce a Mississippi sales tax number.
  4. Provide a certificate of General Liability insurance.
  5. Proof of workers’ compensation if employing five or more people.
  6. Provide three reference letters: one from the bank, two from anyone the applicant worked with or for on construction projects.
  7. Show three projects the applicant has worked on related to the field in which they’re applying.
  8. Establish a qualifying party and provide proof of employment.
  9. Submit a $50 application fee.
  10. Take and pass the examination.

There are far fewer classification choices with residential contractor licensing, but you will still have to choose a designation. You’ll have a choice between a Residential Builder’s license, a Residential Remodeler’s license, and a Residential Roofer’s license. The $50 fee covers one of those classifications. If you want to apply for an additional classification, it’s an extra $100 each. 

Once you take and pass the examination, your paperwork goes in front of the Board for review, and it usually takes seven to ten days to receive your license.

Penalties for unlicensed contracting in Mississippi

While skirting licensing laws might help your business shoot out of the gate, there can be serious repercussions. Mississippi has the MSBOC Statewide Investigative Team to investigate complaints of unlicensed contractors working in the state.

While the state laws aren’t clear on what the penalties are, it does state unlicensed contractors are subject to monetary penalties. Also, homeowners who contract with an unlicensed contractor are also subject to monetary penalties of up to three percent of the total contracted amount.

Do you need a license to file a mechanics lien in Mississippi?

Unlike other states that might take a more relaxed approach to a mechanics lien, the laws in Mississippi are tough. If the work you’re doing requires a contractor’s license and you don’t have one, you do not have rights to a mechanics lien in Mississippi.

Consider this: You want to avoid licensing requirements, so you take projects under $10,000. You bid a job for $9,000 to leave yourself some room. During the project, the customer changes their mind on materials, adding another $1,500 to the bill. Before you know it, you’re performing work that requires a license without holding one.

If the customer decides not to pay you, you have no recourse. That’s not a great position to be in.

If you need to file a lien in Mississippi, get started with Mississippi Mechanics Liens: Everything You Need to Know + Free Forms.

Protecting your payments in Mississippi

When it comes to contractor licensing, Mississippi does not mess around. If you’re supposed to carry a license for your line of work, the first step to protecting your payment is holding that license. Otherwise, you could be completely out of luck if the customer decides not to pay. 

Beyond licensing, Mississippi contractors have specific requirements and timeframes to be aware of when protecting payments and lien rights.

For instance, while subs and GCs don’t have to send preliminary notices, sub-subs and suppliers do within 30 days of first-furnishing. And, any contractor who did not contract directly with the homeowner on a single-family project has to give the owner a pre-lien written notice with at least ten days’ warning.

On top of the preliminary notices and pre-liens, contractors also have to be aware of Mississippi mechanics lien deadlines. GCs, subs, and suppliers have 90 days from the last furnishing to file a mechanics lien. From that point on, they have 180 days to actually enforce the lien.

Between the licensing requirements and deadlines, Mississippi contractors have to make sure they’re staying above board and within their timeframes to protect their payments.

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