The Importance of Keeping Your Contractors’ License Current

BICA Public Affairs REPORT– February 7, 2017,
Contributed by Bret Barrow, Politico Group
The Importance of Keeping Your Contractors License Current

California law requires that all contractors operating in the State be properly licensed by the
Contractors State License Board (“CSLB”). Harsh penalties may be assessed against an
unlicensed contractor for performing work in California. An unlicensed contractor may be
subject to both civil and criminal penalties and disciplinary action by the CSLB. In addition, section 7031 of the California Business & Professions Code precludes an unlicensed contractor from maintaining a lawsuit to recover compensation for its work. Section 7031(a) states:

“No person engaged in the business or acting in the capacity of a contractor, may bring or
maintain any action, or recover in law or equity in any action, in any court of this state for the
collection of compensation for the performance of any act or contract where a license is
required by this chapter without alleging that he or she was a duly licensed contractor at all
times during the performance of that act or contract, regardless of the merits of the cause of
action brought by the person .”

A license can lapse for any number of reasons, including failure to timely submit a renewal
form prior to the expiration date. When your license is coming up for renewal, it is also
important to timely submit a license bond and a workers’ compensation policy, if applicable. If
your license is renewed after the expiration date, or the renewal form is rejected, the renewal
will be considered delinquent and the license record will show a break in license status. If your
license lapses for such a reason, you should petition the Registrar to renew a license retroactive
to the renewal date. The petition will only be considered under the following conditions: (1)
The Registrar receives the petition within 90 days of the expiration date; and (2) the petitioner
establishes that the delay was due to circumstances beyond the contractor’s control.
Below are a few key points to assist you in keeping your contractor license current and in good

Active licenses expire every two years.
Inactive licenses expire every four years.
Approximately 60 days before your license is due to expire, CSLB will send you a renewal
application. To ensure timely receipt of all license maintenance information, notify the
Board of any change to the address maintained by the Board.
If you have not received a renewal application from the CSLB within 45 days of the
expiration date, you can order a renewal online or by calling the CSLB at 1-800- 321-CSLB
(2752). An acceptable renewal application must be received at CSLB’s Headquarters Office prior to the expiration date of the license to avoid any unlicensed time. It is your responsibility to make sure your license is renewed, even if you don’t receive a renewal form.

Because processing times can vary significantly, timely submission of your renewal is strongly recommended. It is prudent to remind you that licensing assistance is available through the Building Industry Credit Association (BICA). This service is provided exclusively to the contractor members of BICA through their association with Politico Group. Currently, the typical processing time for a new California contractor’s license is 3-6 months.
While applicant fingerprinting and background check requirements can cause some delays, the
most common delay is due to incomplete and incorrect applications submitted to CSLB.
Politico Group employs full time staff available to help you through the application process,
including answering questions and solving problems relating to CSLB and its requirements.
CSLB, like many public oversight boards and commissions, is lined with red tape that continues
to grow. Our expert staff has years of experience which can assist BICA member contractors
through this process.

BICA/Politico Group assists its contractors by providing expert consultation both before and
after a license has been obtained, which includes:

  • Guidance in preparing and completing applications.
  • Hand-delivering applications to CSLB headquarters in Sacramento.
  • Monitoring the progress of license applications.
  • Assistance in solving issues related to a license or license application.
  • Assistance in making changes to current licenses.
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