Oregon contractor licensing is no laughing matter: The state is fairly aggressive when it comes to searching for unlicensed companies. Inspectors regularly visit job sites to see who’s working and make sure everyone is properly signed up.
If you are caught working without a license, you could face civil penalties and be placed on a blacklist, making it difficult for you to find work in the future. The best bet is to get licensed, provide the required insurance and bonds, and stay above-board.
Working in another state? For information on licensing in other states, check out The Ultimate Guide to Contractors License Requirements in Every State.
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Who needs a contractor license in Oregon?
Oregon requires any company involved in construction to register and be licensed. There are two boards that govern contractor licensing in Oregon: Construction Contractors Board and Landscape Contractors Board.
As the names suggest, contractors are licensed through the Construction Contractors Board, and landscaping companies are licensed through the Landscape Contractors Board. Companies that need to be licensed include commercial and residential contractors, subcontractors, developers, locksmiths, home energy analysts, landscapers, and many others.
There are several types of Oregon contractor licenses — which the state calls “endorsements” — for contractors to choose from. We’ll go over which apply to general contractors and subcontractors. These endorsements determine the type of work the contractor is allowed to work on. A company can have multiple endorsements, but must purchase multiple bonds to meet the requirements of each endorsement.
Do you need a license to file a lien in Oregon?
In order to perfect or collect on a mechanics lien in Oregon, the entity filing it must be a licensed contractor.
This does not apply to design professionals or other companies that have lien rights due to the type of work they provide.
Oregon’s general contractor licensing information
Before beginning the contractor licensing process, the company must select a person to be the Responsible Managing Individual (RMI). This person is responsible for completing 16 hours of law and business training for contractors. Once the training is complete, the RMI must take and pass an open book test. If they don’t pass the test, it can be retaken.
The next step is to complete a licensing application and submit it with the required bonds, insurance certificates, and a $250 application fee.
Additionally, general contractors, subcontractors, and trade contractors in Oregon each have specific bond requirements and general liability insurance requirements. The amount of bonds and insurance required depends on the type of license, and we’ll go over those below.
General contractor endorsements
- Residential General Contractor (RGC)
- Residential Limited Contractor (RLC), will not exceed $40,000 in annual volume
- Residential Developer (RD)
- Commercial General Contractor Level 1 (CGC1), has eight years of construction experience
- Commercial General Contractor Level 2 (CGC2), has four years of construction experience
- Commercial Developer (CD)
- Residential General Contractor (RGC): $20,000 residential bond
- Residential Limited Contractor (RLC): $10,000 residential bond
- Residential Developer (RD): $20,000 residential bond
- Commercial General Contractor Level 1 (CGC1): $75,000 commercial bond
- Commercial General Contractor Level 2 (CGC2): $20,000 commercial bond
- Commercial Developer (CD): $20,000 commercial bond
Insurance requirements (general liability insurance)
- Residential General Contractor (RGC): $500,000 per occurrence
- Residential Limited Contractor (RLC): $100,000 per occurrence
- Residential Developer (RD): $500,000 per occurrence
- Commercial General Contractor Level 1 (CGC1): $2 million aggregate
- Commercial General Contractor Level 2 (CGC2): $1 million aggregate
- Commercial Developer (CD): $500,000 per occurrence
Subcontractor and trade contractor licensing information
For subcontractors and trade contractors, the process of applying for a contractor’s license is the same as for general contractors. Each company must have an RMI that takes the business class and passes the test. The company then submits an application for the type of license they want, along with the bond, insurance certificates, and an application fee.
Trade contractors need to have at least one licensed plumber, electrician, or technician, depending on the selected field. Trade contractors also need to pull separate business licenses as well.
Both individual and business licenses for trade contractors (electrical, plumbing, boiler, elevator, and manufactured dwellings) are issued through the Building Codes Division.
Subcontractor and trade contractor endorsements
- Residential Specialty Contractor (RSC)
- Home Services Contractor (HSC), home services warranty agreement
- Residential Locksmith Services Contractor (RLSC)
- Home Inspector Services Contractor (HISC)
- Home Energy Performance Score Contractor (HEPSC)
- Residential Restoration Contractor (RRC)
- Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 1 (CSC1), has eight years of construction experience
- Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 2 (CSC2), has four years of construction experience
- Residential Specialty Contractor (RSC): $15,000 residential bond
- Home Services Contractor (HSC): $10,000 residential bond
- Residential Locksmith Services Contractor (RLSC): $10,000 residential bond
- Home Inspector Services Contractor (HISC): $10,000 residential bond
- Home Energy Performance Score Contractor (HEPSC): $10,000 residential bond
- Residential Restoration Contractor (RRC): $10,000 residential bond
- Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 1 (CSC1): $50,000 commercial bond
- Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 2 (CSC2): $20,000 commercial bond
- Residential Specialty Contractor (RSC): $300,000 per occurrence
- Home Services Contractor (HSC): $100,000 per occurrence
- Residential Locksmith Services Contractor (RLSC): $100,000 per occurrence
- Home Inspector Services Contractor (HISC): $100,000 per occurrence
- Home Energy Performance Score Contractor (HEPSC): $100,000 per occurrence
- Residential Restoration Contractor (RRC): $100,000 per occurrence
- Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 1 (CSC1): $1 million aggregate
- Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 2 (CSC2): $500,000 per occurrence
Landscaping contractors apply for licensing from the Landscape Contractors Board. The contractor must have two licenses, one for an individual and one for the company. The individual must submit an application and fee of $170 to start the process.
From there, they are required to take a class and pass a test to get their professional license. Then the company submits an application, with the required bonds and insurance, and a fee of $600.
For landscaping companies, the required bond amount depends on the anticipated revenues for the license year.
- Up to $10,000 – $3,000 bond
- $10,001 to $25,000 – $10,000 bond
- $25,000 to $50,000 – $15,000 bond
- $50,000 or more – $25,000 bond
All landscaping companies are required to provide $500,000 in coverage.
Licensing in cities and municipalities
In Portland, the largest city in Oregon, contractors are required to register with Metro, which is a local government covering most of the Portland metropolitan area.
Companies must submit a form and pay a fee to be licensed, and then they are subject to additional income taxes and transit authority payments, based on how much work they do in the Portland area. Any company that performs work in Portland, no matter where they are located, has to be licensed with Metro and is subject to local taxes.
In Salem, the state capital, contractors are not required to have any additional licensing.
Many of the smaller cities and municipalities around the state require business licenses for contractors. They often need to be purchased before a company can pull permits on a project. The fees for these licenses are usually minimal and all that is required is to complete an application.
Always check the website for the city you’ll be working in for its specific licensing requirements.
Oregon contractor licensing penalties
Oregon contractor licensing requirements are taken very seriously by the state. State statute allows the Construction Contractors Board to assess civil penalties for companies that perform construction work without a license. Oregon Inspectors regularly visit job sites and gather the names of the companies working on site to confirm that they are licensed.
In addition, the principals of companies that work without a license are placed on a blacklist of sorts, and the Contractors Board encourages consumers not to hire them.
Protecting your payments in Oregon
Since only licensed contractors can enforce their lien rights, it pays to get licensed in Oregon.
Residential contractors are required to provide preliminary notices at the time a contract is signed. The state has specific forms that must be used for these notices, which can be found on the CCB website.
In Oregon, most commercial contractors are not required to provide preliminary notices — but it’s a good idea to foster good communication and protect your payments from the get-go by sending a preliminary notice on every project, even if it’s not required.
Keep track of your lien deadlines as well: The deadline for filing a lien in Oregon is 75 calendar days from the last day worked on the job.
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