Ohio general contractor license and insurance requirements

Ohio general contractor license and insurance requirements

Amy Beardsley
By Amy Beardsley
Feb 7, 2023
8 min read

If you’re considering starting a general contracting business in Ohio, there are a few things you need to know. You may need a state or local government license, depending on the type of work you plan to do. Getting licensed requires meeting specific requirements, including minimum levels of experience and business insurance

Not sure where to start? You're in the right place. In this article, you'll find out more about:

If you’re considering working as a general contractor in another state, visit our guide to general contractor license requirements by state.

What are the requirements to have a general contractor license in Ohio?

Ohio doesn't require any special licenses for minor repair work, such as painting or home improvement projects that cost less than $1,000. More extensive projects require a state or local license.

State license requirements

If you are interested in becoming a general contractor who works on commercial construction projects involving HVAC, electrical, plumbing, hydronics or refrigeration, you'll need to get a statewide license issued by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB). These licenses are also called Master Licenses.

Those applying for statewide general contractor licenses in Ohio will have to meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal alien with proof of residence
  • Work as a tradesperson for at least five years in the same trade as your application, be a registered engineer in the same trade as your application for at least three years or have equivalent experience that the board would find acceptable
  • Not have been convicted of a crime or other disqualifying offense
  • Pass your trade examination
  • Have proof of at least $500,000 in general contractor liability insurance
  • Pay a $25 application fee

Once your application has been approved, the board will ask you to complete a background check before sitting for the exam. 

Local license requirements

If you won't be working on any specialized trade projects (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, hydronics or refrigeration) and are planning on running a residential or home improvement contractor business, you can apply for a general license at the local level. 

Different municipalities in Ohio have specific requirements for general contractor licenses. In local jurisdictions, the exact names and types of licenses can vary.

In Columbus, for example, general contractors can apply for licenses, including:

  • General contractor: Projects that involve new builds and alterations, modifications and repairs to commercial and multi-family homes.
  • Home improvement contractor: Projects that involve repairing, modifying, replacing and upgrading residential homes for one to three families. This license also covers work on driveways, swimming pools and garages.

For city or municipality qualifications, check with the local department of building or housing website.

In general, to get a local general contractor license, Ohio cities require you to:

  • Complete your application
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal alien with proof of residence
  • Prove at least three years of general contractor experience through W-2s, project permits or the license number of contractors you've worked with

There are also more specific requirements by city or local region that you'll have to meet. 


To register as a general contractor in Cleveland, you'll need to meet the general state requirements when you apply, plus the following:

  • Provide proof of liability insurance for a minimum of $200,000
  • If you're applying as a corporation, include your Articles of Incorporation in your application
  • Provide a surety bond for $25,000 with a power-of-attorney form attached
  • Pay a $150 application fee (renewals are $120 per year)


In Columbus, you'll need to meet the general requirements when you apply and:


In Cincinnati, you'll need to meet the general requirements when you apply and:

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

In general, applications can take from 10 days to a few weeks, depending on when board meetings are scheduled and when you can write your exam. General contractors in Cincinnati can pay an additional $208 to fast-track applications for one-day processing.

Insurance requirements for Ohio general contractors

To get an Ohio general contractor license, general liability insurance is required both statewide and in local areas, as outlined in the requirements above. Contractors in some areas, such as Cincinnati, also need workers' compensation insurance. 

Here are a few other types of insurance Ohio general contractors might want to consider.

General liability insurance

General liability insurance can help protect your business if there is property damage or any third-party injuries for which your business is held responsible. This type of insurance can help pay for medical treatment or repair and replacement costs for property damage.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

General contractors in Ohio need workers' compensation insurance to cover medical expenses and lost wages for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Some municipalities, including Cincinnati, require general contractors to have this coverage in place.

Tools and Equipment insurance

Tools and equipment insurance protects tools and equipment against damage and theft. Coverage includes power tools, hand tools, and machinery and helps recover the cost of replacing stolen or damaged equipment. 

By having this coverage, you can focus on your work without worrying about the financial impact of unexpected losses, ensuring the smooth operation of your business.

Commercial Property insurance

Commercial property insurance in Ohio covers damage or loss to buildings, structures, and other property owned or rented by the contractor. Contractors can recover costs associated with repairing or replacing damaged property, allowing their operations to continue uninterrupted. 

Commercial Auto insurance

Business owners will also need commercial auto insurance coverage for business-owned vehicles. It offers protection if you or your employees are involved in an accident and are injured.

How NEXT helps Ohio general contractors

NEXT Insurance has helped thousands of business owners across the country get the general contractor insurance coverage they need at an affordable price

In less than ten minutes, you'll have your insurance coverage and a digital certificate of insurance ready on your mobile device or computer.

Start today and get your free instant quote online.

Do you have projects in a different U.S. state? Visit our summary of general contractor license requirements in every state.

Ohio general contractor license and insurance requirements


amy beardsley
About the author
Amy Beardsley is a contributing writer at Next Insurance and a Content Marketing Writer specializing in small business insurance and technology. Her work has contributed to helping independent business owners drive profitable customer action through brand awareness and customer education.
General contractor license requirements by state: NEXT Insurance guide

General contractor license requirements by state: NEXT Insurance guide

Handyman vs. general contractor: What’s the difference?

Handyman vs. general contractor: What’s the difference?

How to become a general contractor if you have no experience

How to become a general contractor if you have no experience

What we cover
Chat with Us

Mon – Fri | 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CT

© 2023 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.