Starting a contracting business in Wyoming is an exciting time. Once you own a business, you’ll be able to make your own hours, choose your clients, specialize in certain types of projects, and just generally steer the ship. While most things are up to you, there is at least one area where you won’t get to call the shots: Wyoming contractor licensing requirements.
But Wyoming contractor licensing can be confusing. And if you’re starting a business, you need to be focusing your time on building your company and lining up customers. This guide will highlight some of the most important things to know about Wyoming contractor licensing, allowing you to start your business off on the right foot without bogging yourself down with hundreds of internet searches.
Contracting in another state? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Contractors License Requirements in Every State.
Who needs a contractors license in Wyoming?
When it comes to contractor licensing, Wyoming is a relatively laid-back state. Other than electrical contractors, the state leaves licensing up to the individual counties or municipalities. It’s up to these entities to decide which contractors need licenses, which need to register, and which are free to operate without a license.
And, just because you carry a license in one of these municipalities doesn’t mean you’re free to operate anywhere you’d like. Contractors working in several different cities or counties might have to carry individual licenses for each.
There is one other catch: Though the state only requires electrical contractors to carry state-issued professional licenses, most contractors will have to register their business with the state.
Do you need a license to file a mechanics lien in Wyoming?
States that take such a relaxed approach to licensing typically do the same when it comes to mechanics liens. Wyoming’s mechanics lien laws aren’t an exception, as there is no requirement that contractors carry licenses to file mechanics liens. And protecting your payments with mechanics liens is important.
But if the state doesn’t require contractors to carry licenses to file liens, why bother getting a license from a municipality at all? Consider this: You take a contract and deliver the project on time and up to spec, but the customer doesn’t pay. Naturally, you file a mechanics lien.
The customer still refuses to pay, forcing you to take them to court. If you don’t carry the appropriate license for the work you’re performing, how will it look to the court as you’re attempting to foreclose on someone’s property? Not fantastic.
How to get a contractors license in Wyoming
As mentioned earlier, only electrical contractors need to pursue trade licenses through the state of Wyoming. However, most contractors do have to carry business licenses to operate within the state. And beyond business licensing, individual municipalities have their own requirements.
Regardless of the business structure (LLC, limited partnership, corporation, etc.), most Wyoming contractors will have to register their businesses with the Secretary of State. Registration is fairly straightforward as the Secretary of State allows users to register through an online portal.
You’ll need to ensure your business name is available with the state’s search tool, and then read the statutes relevant to file a business entity.
Online applicants need to pay a $2.00 convenience fee in addition to the $100 application fee for LLCs and limited partnerships.
Electrical contractors pursuing licensing in Wyoming will have to go through the Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety. Application and renewal both cost $400, and licenses expire annually on July 1. To apply for licensing, would-be contractors will have to create a login and password through the department’s online portal.
Every electrical contractor in the state must either be a master electrician or employ a master electrician. The requirements for master-level licensing are:
- Prove eight years of work experience in the electrical wiring industry
- Four of those years must be as a licensed journeyman with 576 hours of electrical-related classroom instruction
- A government-issued ID
- A copy of apprenticeship school documentation
- A unique personal email address
- Pay the initial $200 license fee
Wyoming contractor licensing at the municipal level
Contractor licensing in Cheyenne
Most contractors working in Cheyenne will have to carry a license issued by the city. These licenses fall under the responsibility of the city’s Compliance Division. There are several types of licenses available, including several general contractor licenses as well as specialty contractors. Also, the board issues licenses for plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and refrigeration contractors.
All Cheyenne contractors must be or employ a Qualified Supervisor, which requires passing an examination and detailing their hands-on experience in the industry. The qualifying experience varies based on the license type:
- Class A: Seven years of experience
- Class A Specialty: Seven years of experience
- Class B: Five years of experience
- Class D: One year of experience
- Class E: Five years of experience
- Class F: Three years of experience
- Class R: Five years of experience
- Class S: Two years of experience
The fee for these licenses also varies between license types, ranging from $250 to $650.
Cheyenne also requires HVAC, plumbing, refrigeration, and electrical contractors to apply for licensing. Again, these contractors require a Qualified Person, which typically means someone who holds a master-level license. The fee for these licenses is $250.
Contractor licensing in Casper
Unlike Cheyenne, contractor licensing in Casper, Wyoming, is pretty simple. Licensing falls under Casper’s Property and Housing Department, and it requires that general contractors, roofers, demolition contractors, and electricians carry a license with the city.
When it comes to general contractor licensing in Casper, applicants will use this application. There are three types of GC licenses:
- Class 1, which allows the contractor to construct, repair, or alter any structure
- Class 2, which allows the contractor to construct, repair, or alter residences up to eight-unit residential buildings and alter commercial structures up to 25 percent of the assessed value
- Class 3, which allows the contractor to repair, remodel, or alter single-family residences only up to 25 percent of the assessed value
The fee for Class 1 applicants is $300, but all other license types (including roofing and demolition) are $150.
Electrical contractors need to fill out this application and provide proof of a Wyoming electrical license. The fee for the application is $300.
Contractor licensing in Gillette
Gillette requires all contractors working within the city limits to carry a city-issued license. Licensing falls under the control of the Development Services Building Inspection Department, and there are many types.
For general contractors, these three main licenses are available:
- Class A, which allows the contractor to build, alter, repair, or demolish any structure
- Class B, which allows the contractor to build, alter, repair, or demolish 1, 2, 3, or 4-family dwelling buildings and commercial buildings up to 5,000 square feet
- Class R, which allows the contractor to build, alter, repair, or demolish 1 and 2-family dwellings not more than 3 stories above grade
Gillette recognizes electrical, HVAC, pipefitting, and plumbing contractors as vocational contractors, and they’re required to carry a Class D license.
There are also Class C specialty contractors, including:
- Concrete and paving
- Drywall and plaster
- Excavation/snow removal
- Manufactured housing
- Trim carpentry
- Water and sewer
- Windows and siding
Applicants will use this application, regardless of license type. Fees vary between license types, running from $500 for Class A GCs to $75 for specialty contractors.
Penalties for unlicensed contracting in Wyoming
While the state may prefer to relegate licensing responsibility to the cities, those individual areas do take their licensing requirements very seriously.
With each city making its own Wyoming contractor licensing requirements, penalties, fines, and legal ramifications come from the individual municipalities. For that reason, nailing down the fines and penalties is difficult. Expect fines based on the number of offenses (the first offense is usually less than a second or third), and the possibility of legal penalties.
Protecting your payments in Wyoming
Though Wyoming’s contractor licensing can be confusing and convoluted, it isn’t the only regulation Wyoming contractors need to keep their eyes on. They also need to protect their payments by preserving their lien rights by sending or filing the correct documentation by a very specific set of deadlines.
For example, general contractors have to send a preliminary notice to the owner before receiving any payment. And they must send this notice 20 days prior to filing a lien. For subs and suppliers, mechanics lien laws require sending preliminary notice within 30 days of starting a project or 20 days before filing a lien, whichever comes sooner.
The deadline for filing a mechanics lien in Wyoming varies between the contract tiers, as well. General contractors have up to 150 days from last furnishing to file a lien, while subs and suppliers have just 120 days to file their liens. Outside of that window, a contractor might have to pursue more expensive and time-consuming means to recover their cash from a non-paying customer.
The deadline to file a mechanics lien might differ between the tiers, but the deadline to enforce the lien is the same. All contract participants have up to 180 days to enforce their liens. If they miss this deadline, the lien expires and becomes unenforceable.