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Washington handyman license and insurance requirements

Washington handyman license and insurance requirements

By Ashley Henshaw
Sep 22, 2022
8 min read

If you’re interested in working as a handyman, Washington could be a smart place to set up your business. The state boasts an average annual salary of $51,090 for professionals in this line of work, which is nearly $8,000 more than the national average. In addition, the area of Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue rank in the U.S. among the top-paying metropolitan areas for general maintenance and repair workers.1

Although some states require a handyman license, Washington State has a slightly different procedure for this profession. While you don’t need a handyman license in Washington State, you must apply for a business license and register as a specialty contractor with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

To help you become a handyperson in Washington, we’ve put together this helpful guide that covers everything you need to know, including:

Does a handyman need a license in Washington State?

There are no Washington handyman license requirements. However, all construction contractors must register with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries before they may bid, advertise, or perform construction work.

The state recognizes two types of contractors: 

  • General contractor: Can perform most types of construction work and hire subcontractors in multiple specialties
  • Specialty contractors: Can only perform work in the specialty they are registered in and cannot hire subcontractors

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries regulates 63 contractor specialties, one of which is handyman.

What type of work can a handyman do legally in Washington State?

The following restrictions apply to handyman work in Washington State:

  • You must perform all work personally without employees or other specialty contractors.
  • You may only perform minor and casual work related to maintenance and repair of existing residences.
  • You may not perform work requiring a building permit.
  • Each project must be limited to a total dollar value of less than $2,000, including time and materials.

If your work goes beyond these restrictions, you may need to review the Washington contractor license requirements to determine whether you need a different type of registration. For more information on handyman vs. contractor work, review the chart below.

How to get a handyman license in Washington State

You won’t need a Washington State handyman license. However, there are certain steps you must follow to register as a handyman.

1. Register your business

You must apply for a business license before registering as a handyman in Washington.3 Choose a business structure (such as sole proprietor, partnership LLC, etc.) and a business name. Then, fill out the application and pay the appropriate licensing fee.

2. Get a surety bond

To become a registered contractor in this state, you must purchase a Washington Continuous Contractor Surety Bond in the amount of $6,000. The bond must use your exact business name.

Those who do not wish to get a bond may fill out an Assigned Savings Account form and set up a dedicated account at a bank in Washington State.

3. Purchase general liability insurance

You must have a general liability insurance policy that covers:

  • $200,000 in public liability and $50,000 property damage
  • OR a $250,000 combined single limit

Make sure the policy uses your exact business name and lists the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries as the certificate holder.

4. Complete your registration application

Fill out the application to register as a construction contractor in Washington. Be sure to apply as a specialty contractor and list “Handyman” as your specialty trade. Your application must be signed in front of a notary public.4

5. Pay the registration fee

You must pay a registration fee of $124.70 when submitting your application. Accepted payments include check or money order.

How long does it take to get your contractor registration in Washington?

It may take six to eight weeks to process and activate your Washington contractor registration. You may check the state’s contractor business verification tool to see if your registration is complete5. A registration card will arrive by mail approximately two weeks after the activation of your registration.

Washington contractor registration renewal

Your contractor registration card will include details on when to renew. You can complete the renewal online with payment of a required $124.70 fee.

What kind of insurance does a handyman need in Washington?

There are plenty of risks involved in any construction business, even if you’re running a small, one-person operation. Fortunately, the right handyman insurance can help protect you day in and day out so you can focus on the work at hand. 

The following types of business insurance are highly recommended for anyone who works as a handyperson in Washington:

General Liability insurance

General liability insurance offers important coverage for handypeople. This insurance helps cover the costs if someone other than you gets hurt or if damage to someone else’s property occurs. 

Washington State requires general liability insurance for every handyman business in the amount of $200,000 in public liability plus $50,000 property damage or a $250,000 combined single limit.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

If you or an employee gets hurt on the job, workers’ compensation insurance can protect your business by helping to pay for wage protection and other benefits. 

In Washington State, you must have workers’ compensation insurance if you have any employees. You must provide coverage through the Industrial Insurance Program or through self-insurance.6

Tools and Equipment insurance

To protect your work gear, you can get tools and equipment insurance. This insurance can help cover the costs of repairing or replacing your handyman tools and equipment if damage or theft occurs. 

Commercial Auto insurance

If you use a vehicle for work, you’ll need commercial auto insurance. This type of insurance helps pay for costs related to accidents, such as towing, repairs and medical expenses. 

Commercial Property insurance

You can get protection for a property you own or rent for your handyman business with commercial property insurance. It helps pay for certain types of damage to the property itself as well as the inventory and equipment stored inside.

How NEXT Insurance supports Washington handypeople

If you’re looking for convenient and affordable handyman insurance for your small business, NEXT Insurance can help. We’ll make sure you get the correct coverage to satisfy Washington contractor registration requirements and protect your business.

Use our online services to get the coverage you need in just minutes. You can apply from any computer or mobile device whenever it’s convenient for you. You’ll get a certificate of insurance right away, and we include the option to download and share unlimited COIs in case your clients request proof of coverage. 

Get an instant quote online today.

Do you want to work as a handyman somewhere besides Washington? Learn about the licensing and registration requirements in each U.S. state in our summary of handyman license requirements.

Sources

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

2 Washington Specialty Contractor Classifications

3 A Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for Your Washington Business License

4 Application for Construction Contractor Registration

5 Contractor business verification tool

6 Changes to Washington State Workers’ Compensation Laws

Washington handyman license and insurance requirements

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About the author
Ashley Henshaw is a contributing writer at NEXT Insurance and a writer and editor at BrainBoost Media. She specializes in small business topics, covering everything from insurance and branding to web hosting and cryptocurrency. Her work is focused on helping independent business owners and entrepreneurs access the tools they need to succeed.
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