Massachusetts general contractor license and insurance requirements

Massachusetts general contractor license and insurance requirements

Ashley Henshaw
By Ashley Henshaw
Dec 29, 2023
9 min read

If you want to get a general contractor license in Massachusetts, you need to be certified by the state, and it’s in every small business owner’s best interest to protect themselves and their business with the right insurance.

Massachusetts is a great place to be a general contractor. It often ranks among the top-paying states for this profession, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you’re ready to get your MA general contractor license, jump ahead to learn:

Do you need a license to be a general contractor in MA?

Massachusetts general contractors who work on buildings of less than 35,000 cubic feet must have a license issued by the state. In some cases, you may also need to register as a home improvement contractor through the Office of Public Safety and Inspections.

There are two main types of Massachusetts general contractor licenses:

  1. Unrestricted construction supervisor license (CSL). This type of license covers work on buildings of less than 35,000 cubic feet, one- and two-family dwellings, buildings and structures for agricultural use, and walls less than 10 feet.
  2. Restricted construction supervisor license (CSL). This license solely covers work on one- and two-family dwellings.

Additionally, there are a number of specialty CSLs available, including:

  • Masonry
  • Roof covering
  • Windows doors sliding
  • Solid fuel-burning appliance
  • Demolition
  • Insulation

Home improvement contractor registration

All general contractors who work on residential contracting projects must register as a home improvement contractor (HIC) with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

This registration covers home improvement work on existing one- to four-unit, owner-occupied residential properties.

How to get a general contractor license in Massachusetts

To get your Massachusetts contractor license or complete your home improvement contractor registration, follow these steps.

How to apply for a Massachusetts construction supervisor license

You must apply for your CSL by mail. When filling out your Massachusetts general contractor license application, be sure to complete the following steps:

  • Choose your construction supervisor license type
  • Verify your work experience
  • Submit the candidate exam registration form

Once your application has been submitted, you must call Prometric, which administers the licensing exams, to schedule your exam date.

How to register as a Massachusetts home improvement contractor

General contractors can register as a HIC online, by mail or in person at the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation in Boston. To complete the registration process, you’ll need to submit one of the following documents:

  • If registering as an individual/sole proprietor: A copy of your business certificate issued by your local city or town clerk
  • If registering as a corporation: A current filing with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth Corporations Division

You must also pay a $150 registration fee plus a mandatory based on the size of your company:

  • 0-3 employees: $100
  • 4-10 employees: $200
  • 11-30 employees: $300
  • 30+ employees: $500

Massachusetts general contractor license requirements

While Massachusetts contractors’ licenses have work experience and exam requirements, these requirements do not apply to HIC registration.

Massachusetts construction supervisor license requirements

To be eligible for a CSL, you must fulfill the following requirements:

Have previous construction work experience

You must have three years of work experience in building construction or design to be eligible for a CSL. The work experience doesn’t have to be continuous, but it must be full-time work from the past 10 years.

Active construction-related military experience may be considered full-time work.

To verify this experience, you must submit relevant tax forms or a notarized letter of attestation from an employer, engineer, architect, licensed contractor or other qualified individual stating that you have the required experience.

Potential substitutions for the work experience requirement include:

  • One year of work experience: Successful completion of a three- or four-year vocational school program in building construction, or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Two years of work experience: Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in architecture or science, engineering or technology in a related field

Pass the licensing exam

After submitting your application, you must take the computer-based licensing exam at a Prometric testing location. The exam is primarily based on the contents of the Commonwealth’s Building Code.

You’ll receive your results immediately following the exam. After passing the exam, you must mail your score report to the Office of Public Safety and Inspections.

Massachusetts home improvement contractor requirements

The only requirement to register as a HIC in Massachusetts is the proper documentation for your business.

How long does it take to get a MA general contractor license?

After submitting your application to become a licensed construction supervisor, allow 10 days for processing before scheduling your licensing exam. After mailing in your score report from the exam, it takes approximately 30 days for a license card to be issued.

If you’re registering as a home improvement contractor, your registration will arrive in the mail within one to two weeks after you’ve submitted the required documents and fees.

Massachusetts general contractor license renewal requirements

Massachusetts CSLs expire every two years. You must pay a $100 license fee and complete continuing education courses in order to renew your license. These courses should cover the following topics: code review, workplace safety, business practices/workers’ compensation, energy and lead-safe practices.

The required number of course hours varies according to the type of license you have:

  • Unrestricted CSL: 12 hours
  • Restricted CSL: 10 hours
  • Specialty CSL: 6 hours

Massachusetts home improvement contractor registrations also expire every two years. You must pay a $100 fee and provide either a current copy of your business certificate (for individuals/sole proprietors) or a recent filing with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth Corporations Division (for corporations) to renew your registration.

Reciprocity for Massachusetts general contractor licenses

Massachusetts does not recognize any out-of-state contractor licenses. A Massachusetts-issued CSL is required for any applicable work on buildings or structures in the state.

Out-of-state businesses must register as home improvement contractors if they plan to perform this type of work in Massachusetts. These businesses must provide a foreign corporation certificate of registration from the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth with their registration application.

Local general contractor business license requirements

The state-mandated requirements are the first few steps to your general contractor business in Massachusetts, but you should also check the local regulations.


In Boston, general contractors must obtain a business certificate through the city clerk’s office and renew it every four years.

Contractors must also provide a valid copy of their Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) registration issued by the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and a copy of a Construction Supervisor License (CSL) issued by the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Inspections.

Boston doesn’t require any city-specific insurance other than state-prescribed workers’ compensation insurance and commercial auto insurance.

Stay up to date with Boston’s inspection services here.


In Worcester, general contractors need to register as new contractors and attach a copy of their insurance binder as part of the process. This requirement is specific to Worcester and is in addition to any state-level licensing requirements.

For certain types of work like drainlaying, a specific Drainlayer License for general contractors is required.

Worcester mandates contractors to submit a certificate of insurance with the City of Worcester named as an additional insured party.

Additionally, contractors must have their tradesperson license and a copy of their Workers’ Compensation insurance documentation on file with the Department of Inspectional Services or attached to any submitted application for a permit.

All of the above are city-specific requirements that go beyond the state mandates.

Stay up to date with Worcester’s local laws and trade permits here.

What insurance does a general contractor need in Massachusetts?

In addition to getting your CSL or registering as a HIC, you may want general contractor insurance to protect your business. Consider the following types of Massachusetts business insurance for general contractors:

General liability insurance

General liability insurance can help provide coverage for common work-related accidents that can occur in construction, like damage to someone’s property or a third-party injury.

Workers’ compensation insurance

If an employee gets hurt on the job, workers’ compensation insurance can help provide coverage for wage protection and medical expenses. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, all employers must have workers’ comp coverage.

This requirement extends to out-of-state employers operating in Massachusetts.

Tools and equipment insurance

Tools and equipment insurance can help cover repairs and replacements if your work gear is stolen or damaged.

Commercial auto insurance

Commercial auto insurance can help protect general contractors who drive for work by covering accident-related expenses, such as property damage and medical costs.

Commercial property insurance

If you own or rent property for your business, commercial property insurance can help provide coverage for damage and vandalism.

Massachusetts does not require construction supervisors to obtain insurance to be eligible for licensure or registration.

How NEXT helps support Massachusetts general contractors

NEXT provides affordable and convenient general contractor insurance. You can get business insurance coverage and access to your policy to help protect your business 24/7 via web or mobile app.

We’ve helped thousands of contractors across the country get affordable insurance to meet their unique needs. Apply for coverage and get your certificate of insurance in under 10 minutes.

Get a free quote today.

banner get business insurance in 10
Ashley Henshaw
About the author

Ashley Henshaw was a contributing writer at NEXT. She specializes in small business topics, covering everything from insurance and branding to web hosting and cryptocurrency.

Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, AOL City's Best, Citysearch, USA Today, The San Francisco Chronicle and Livestrong.

What we cover
Chat with Us

Mon – Fri | 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CT

© 2024 Next Insurance, Inc. 975 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94304, United States
Better Business Bureau
Issuance of coverage is subject to underwriting. Not available in all states. Please see the policy for full terms, conditions and exclusions. Coverage examples are for illustrative purposes only. Your policy documents govern, terms and exclusions apply. Coverage is dependent on actual facts and circumstances giving rise to a claim. Next Insurance, Inc. and/or its affiliates is an insurance agency licensed to sell certain insurance products and may receive compensation from insurance companies for such sales. Policy obligations are the sole responsibility of the issuing insurance company. Refer to Legal Notices section for additional information.

Any starting prices or premiums represented before an actual customer quote are not guaranteed and are representations of existing premiums of active policies as of December 6, 2023. To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten, not all applicants may qualify. Individual rates and savings vary and are subject to change. Discounts and savings are available where state laws and regulations allow, and may vary by state. Certain discounts apply to specific coverages only.