North Carolina general contractor license and insurance requirements

North Carolina general contractor license and insurance requirements

Amy Beardsley
By Amy Beardsley
Jan 18, 2024
9 min read

Before you start your general contracting business, make sure you comply with North Carolina general contractor license requirements. An NC general contractor license is required for any project $30,000 or more.

Navigating the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors can be confusing. You must understand the licensing requirements, which type of license to apply for and how the application process works.

Jump ahead to learn more about:

How to get an NC general contractor license

To receive a general contractor license in NC, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Good moral character: You’ll answer questions about your background.
  • Business registration: You must be legally registered to conduct business in North Carolina.
  • Examination: You must pass the National Accredited Building Examination given by the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA). The type of license you are applying for may require you to pass several NASCLA exams.
  • Financial requirements: You must show financial responsibility by meeting the minimum financial requirements of the license you’re applying for in case you encounter any problems when delivering the services you’re contracted to deliver.
  • Application fee: Pay a nonrefundable license application fee. As of 2023, the fees are $75 for a limited license, $100 for an intermediate license, and $125 for an unlimited license.

To start the contractor’s license application, you’ll fill out an application (available online). Once you apply, the NC Licensing Board for General Contractors will send you instructions on how to enroll for the right building contractor exams, depending on what kind of license (or licenses) you want.

Once you find the right exams, you’ll sign up and take the test(s). The exam is open book, but you may want to study because it has a time limit of 330 minutes. If you pass, the board will review your application, and if approved, you’ll receive your license identification number.

Obtaining your building contractor license in the state of North Carolina typically takes at least 30 days. This timeline includes about two weeks to process your application and time for the board to approve your license.

Plan on the process taking longer if you need time to study for your exam or if you don’t schedule it immediately after your application is processed.

Although most people fill out an application before taking an exam, you can minimize the time it takes to receive your license by submitting your application with a completed exam. Further, you can accelerate your studies by taking an NC general contractor license exam prep course.

nc general contractor license

Do you need a North Carolina general contractor license?

If you plan to complete construction activity worth more than $30,000, you’ll need to get a license in North Carolina.

Even if you might not take on projects of that size, you can benefit from having a license  — it shows you’ve made the effort to meet the professional standards for your trade and are committed to staying on top of building codes and industry standards.

NC general contractor license limits

Different general contractor licenses in North Carolina limit the value of projects you can work on. Your eligibility for each license limit depends on your finances. If you lack working capital, you can take out a surety bond instead.

LicenseWorking capital needed to avoid a bondMinimum bond requiredProject limit
Intermediate$75,000$500,000$1.5 million
Unlimited$150,000$1 millionUnlimited


North Carolina general contractor license classifications

License limits dictate the size of projects building contractors can take on, while license classifications determine what type of work can be done.

To qualify for a license classification, you must pass an exam. If you want to obtain more than one license classification, you must pass each test and fill out a separate application.

General contractor license classifications in North Carolina include:

  • Building: Construction and demolition for commercial, industrial, institutional and residential structures.
  • Residential: Construction and demolition of residential structures and individual units.
  • Highway: Grading and paving public roads; construction of guard rails, sidewalks, gutters and other highway contractor projects.
  • Public utilities: Construction of water and sewage systems, swimming pools, fuel lines and power lines.
  • Specialty: Grading and excavating, boring and tunneling, concrete foundations and tanks, substations, fuel distribution, marine construction, and more are included as a specialty contractor.
  • Unclassified: Includes all of the above classifications.

Insurance requirements for North Carolina general contractors

There is no statewide business insurance requirement to obtain a general contractor license in North Carolina, however there may be requirements at the local level.

For instance, contractors in Iredell County must maintain minimum coverage limits for general liability, automobile liability and workers’ compensation coverage. It’s best to check with your city or country regulatory office for local requirements.

Similarly, many projects and building construction permits ask contractors to have proper licensure and business insurance. The following types of insurance are recommended for most general contractors in North Carolina.

General liability insurance

General liability insurance for contractors protects your business from expenses related to common mistakes or accidents, including property damage and customer injury. As a commercial or residential contractor, you may need $1 million or more minimum general liability coverage in North Carolina.

For example, Charlotte general contractors must have a minimum of $1 million in commercial general liability insurance and list the City of Charlotte as an additional insured.

Workers’ compensation insurance

Workers’ comp isn’t required for an NC general contractor license, but state law requires this coverage for corporations, sole proprietorships, partnerships and limited liability companies with three or more employees.

However, some counties can have more strict requirements. In Iredell County, contractors or subcontractors must carry workers’ comp regardless of the number of employees.

Tools and equipment insurance

Tools and equipment insurance protects the tools and equipment you use as a contractor. In the event of theft or damage, it covers repairs and replacements.

Commercial auto insurance

Commercial auto insurance protects your construction vehicles, drivers and equipment while driving for business purposes. In North Carolina, most insurance companies determine the cost of a policy based on driver experience, vehicle condition, route hazards and vehicle usage.

You can add hired and non-owned coverage if you occasionally rent vehicles or use employee vehicles for business purposes.

Commercial property insurance

Having commercial property insurance will protect your business from damage and vandalism that may occur on your property.

The state may not require general contractors to produce a certificate of insurance in North Carolina. However, city and county governments may require contractors to carry liability insurance, even though state regulations do not.

General contractor license reciprocity in North Carolina

North Carolina doesn’t have full reciprocity with any other state. But exam waivers are available if you have an existing license in South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

NC general contractor license renewal

You can renew your existing NC general contractor license online through the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors website. The process involves submitting your financial statements, verifying employment and paying a license renewal fee.

How NEXT helps support North Carolina general contractors

NEXT makes it fast, easy and affordable to get the general contractor insurance you need — and you can do it all online.

We’ll ask a few questions about your business and give you a quote. You can select your coverage options and purchase your policy — all in about 10 minutes. Your certificate of insurance will be available immediately, and you can access your policy 24/7 via web or mobile app.

And if you have questions, our team of licensed, U.S.-based NEXT advisors can help.

Start a free quote with NEXT today.

banner get business insurance in 10
Amy Beardsley
About the author

Amy Beardsley, insurance expert and contributing writer at NEXT Insurance, is a content marketing writer who specializes in small business coverage. Leveraging her background in the legal field, Amy brings a deep understanding of laws, regulations, and compliance requirements to her work. As a content marketing writer since 2016, she has contributed to publications like Legal & General, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, Insurify, and NerdWallet. Her work has also appeared in CNBC, Kiplinger, and US News. When she’s not writing, Amy enjoys playing cards with her family and experimenting with new recipes.

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.