Tennessee general contractor license and insurance requirements

Tennessee general contractor license and insurance requirements

Matt Crawford
By Matt Crawford
Jan 17, 2024
1 min read

If you want to learn how to get a general contractor license in Tennessee, you’ll need to meet a few primary requirements set by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Board for Licensing Contractors.

Jump ahead to learn more about general contracting licensing in the state, including:

How to get a general contractor license in Tennessee

If you want to get your license and start your own general contracting business, you must make sure you have all of your documents in order. Tennessee requires financial statements for all applicants, a letter of reference and proof of workers’ compensation and general liability insurance.

You’ll also need to establish your business and file it with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office. With your paperwork ready, you can begin the application process.

Everyone applying for a general contractor license in Tennessee will have to take and pass the state’s Business and Law exam. Additionally, depending on what sort of license classification you are applying for, you might also need to take a particular trade exam. Each of these exams costs $55.

Once your application is set, you can submit it with the $250 fee. Then, you wait for the board to approve you and issue your license.

Tennessee general contractor license requirements

The State of Tennessee requirements for applicants who want a general contractor license include:

  • Passing the Tennessee Business and Law exam; you may also need to pass additional trade exams.
  • A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a Licensed Public Accountant (LPA) must review or audit your financial statement in the 12 months leading up to your application.
  • One letter of reference from a past client or employer or a code official who has inspected your work.
  • A certificate of insurance with a minimum of $100,000 of general liability insurance and proof of workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Complete an interview with the board.

Once you’re ready to submit your application, you will need it notarized. You will also have to submit a $250 fee along with your application. You must postmark your application by the 20th day of the month before the next scheduled board meeting. Otherwise, you will have to wait until the following meeting cycle.

The three general contractor license types in Tennessee

The primary types of Tennessee general contractor licenses you can apply for include:

  1. Contractor: This covers bidding or working on any project, valued over $25,000 or more, directly with the owner of that project.
  2. Subcontractor: Any subcontractors working with a contractor on plumbing, HVAC, roofing, electrical and mechanical projects with a value of $25,000 or more. Subcontractors on masonry projects with a value of $100,000 or more.
  3. Construction management: Any construction management on a project with a value of over $25,000.Tennessee also sets monetary limits on licenses. The limits are based on a ten times multiple of whatever is less, your working capital or net worth. For example, if your net worth on your financial statements is $10,000, then your license will have a monetary limit of $100,000, and you will not be able to bid on projects above this amount.

Insurance requirements for Tennessee general contractors

Tennessee requires general contractors to have active general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. All business-owned vehicles must also be covered by commercial auto insurance.

General liability insurance for Tennessee contractors

General liability insurance in Tennessee can help your general contracting business protect itself against claims involving property damage or third-party injury. It can help pay for medical expenses if a client is injured while they are on a job site or repair and replacement costs if property belonging to someone else is damaged.

Commercial auto insurance for general contractors

Commercial auto insurance can provide coverage for vehicles that you use for your general contracting business. It offers financial protection if you or your employees are involved in an accident or injured while driving.

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

It can take a few months to get your general contractor license in Tennessee. So, be sure to plan ahead. Also, note that you’ll need to include time to prepare the necessary paperwork and register and pass the required exams.

Once your application is submitted, it should take anywhere from four to six weeks. Some applicants will require an interview with a member of the board during one of the regularly scheduled meetings. This interview is informal and typically is only around 30 minutes. The availability of these interviews can depend on the calendar and the schedule of the board meetings.

It’s possible to waive the interview requirement if you submit your application fully complete and in order. That can potentially speed up the process by a few weeks.

Contractors will get notified of license renewals by mail before their current license expires. They can renew their license through the state’s CORE (Comprehensive Online Regulatory & Enforcement) system.

General contractor license reciprocity in Tennessee

In Tennessee, there is no license reciprocity, but there are trade exam waivers with participating out of state agencies. That means out contractors from the following states can apply for a trade exam waiver and obtain a Tennessee license without examination:

  • Alabama (General, Electrical, Residential, and HVAC)
  • Arkansas (Commercial/Residential Building only)
  • Georgia (Commercial Building and Electrical)
  • Louisiana (Residential, Commercial, Electrical and Mechanical)
  • Mississippi (Residential, Commercial, Electrical, Mechanical (Unlimited)
  • North Carolina (Residential/Commercial Building, Electrical)
  • Ohio (Electrical; Plumbing; and HVAC)
  • South Carolina (Commercial Contractors Licensing Board)
  • West Virginia (Residential, Commercial, Industrial Building, Electrical, Mechanical, Masonry)

Applicants must still pass the Tennessee Business and Law exam, along with completing the entire license application and license verification form. All financial requirements, insurance and Board reviews are the same as getting a new license.

How NEXT helps support Tennessee general contractors

NEXT can help general contractors to get a free insurance quote, purchase coverage and access their certificate of insurance online in less than 10 minutes.

We’re 100% dedicated to helping small businesses and self-employed professionals find customized coverage. Our licensed, U.S.-based insurance providers are standing by to help at every step.

Get a free instant quote with NEXT today.

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Matt Crawford
About the author

Matt Crawford leads NEXT's content team. He's a small business insurance specialist and has worked with business owners throughout his career as a community journalist and content marketer.

You can find him at one of his many favorite local restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area when he's not at work.

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