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Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

Plumbing contractor licensing

Starting Jan. 1, 2012, DLI will license individuals and businesses that perform or offer to perform plumbing work, with or without compensation, as a licensed plumbing contractor or licensed restricted plumbing contractor. Master plumbers and restricted master plumbers will no longer "hold" the license for a plumbing contractor, but rather will be the "responsible master" for the contractor. The plumbing contractor, as a business entity, shall "hold" the license for itself.

The Minnesota legislature made this change in 2010 to align regulation of plumbing contractors with that of electrical contractors, high-pressure-piping contractors, elevator contractors, residential roofers, technology system contractors and residential building contractors. The law clarifies that business entities contracting to perform plumbing work shall be directly accountable for their business actions as a contractor.

Licensure of Plumbing Contractors

Although plumbing contractors have been filing bonds and liability insurance with DLI and the Department of Health for many years, they have been doing it on behalf of their master plumber. A plumbing contractor's license was actually the master plumber's license, not the business' license. The Minnesota legislature in 2010 shifted this responsibility to the plumbing contractor as a business entity rather than leave it with the master plumber. The change goes into effect with the license period starting Jan. 1, 2012.

Information currently provided by plumbing contractors when filing a bond and liability insurance will not change. This information includes:

  • Contractor name, address information, contact information
  • Federal and State business, employer, and tax identification numbers
  • Business name filing(s) with the Minnesota Secretary of State
  • Business Disclosure of Owners, Partners, Officers, or Members
  • Responsible Licensed Master Plumber or Restricted Master Plumber
  • Plumbing Contractor Code Compliance Bond
  • Certificate of Liability Insurance
  • Certificate of Compliance with Minnesota Workers' Compensation Laws

The primary differences plumbing contractors will experience in 2012 are:

  • License Number. Each licensed plumbing contractor will be issued a license number that will remain with the licensed business entity so long as it remains licensed. This will eliminate use of the master plumber's license as the plumbing contractor's number.
  • Responsible Licensed Plumber. Each licensed plumbing contractor will designate a master plumber or restricted master plumber as its "responsible licensed plumber." This individual must have a current, active master license and be responsible for the contractor's compliance with Minnesota's plumbing laws and code. Referenced below in the summary table are the restrictions on who may be the responsible licensed plumber for a plumbing contractor.
  • New Bond. Because the license is new, each licensed plumbing contractor must submit a new Plumbing Contractor Code Compliance Bond for the license period starting Jan. 1, 2012. Bonds currently in effect and expiring on Dec. 31, 2011 will be unacceptable for the license period starting Jan. 1, 2012.

Master Plumber

Licensed master plumbers and restricted master plumbers retain their importance at ensuring compliance with Minnesota's Plumbing Code despite the shift to licensing business entities as plumbing contractors. All plumbing contractors that perform or offer to perform plumbing work must designate, in writing to the department, their licensed master plumber or licensed restricted master plumber. A plumbing contractor's license is only valid when there is an active, licensed master plumber or restricted master plumber associated with the plumbing contractor. A significant reduction in master plumber license fees were also made by the legislature in recognition of this shift from master plumber as plumbing contractor to business entity as plumbing contractor.

Responsible Licensed Plumber

By law, a responsible licensed plumber must be an owner, partner, officer, or managing employee of the business entity licensed as a plumbing contractor. The table below summarizes who may be designated the responsible licensed plumber for six different business types that may perform or offer to perform plumbing work. If a managing employee is designated the responsible licensed plumber for a licensed plumbing contractor, the licensed plumber must be actively engaged in performing plumbing work on behalf of the contractor, and cannot be employed in any capacity as a plumber for any other contractor. An individual may be the responsible licensed plumber for only one contractor.

Responsible Licensed Plumber by Contractor Business Type:


Responsible Licensed Plumber

Contractor Business Entity




General Partner

Chief Member

Managing Employee

Individual (sole) Proprietorship





















Limited Liability Company







Limited Liability Partnership















Plumbing License Fees

Plumbing license fees change dramatically in 2012. The Minnesota legislature restructured license fees across fifty different building and construction-related licenses, certifications and registrations into four tiers:

  • business/contractor;
  • master-level;
  • journeyman-level; and
  • entry-level.

The restructured license fee schedule ensures that all licensed occupations and disciplines regulated by the department share equitably in paying its associated administration, licensing and enforcement costs.

As an industry, plumbing benefits from the restructured license fee schedule. Licensed master plumbers and restricted master plumbers will receive a 67-percent reduction in their license fees starting in 2012, which is an $80 cut in their annual cost. Licensed journeyman plumbers and restricted journeyman plumbers will see a $35 cut in their annual cost, which represents a 64 percent reduction. Unlicensed individuals will have their annual registration fees cut $15, which is a reduction of 60 percent. Licensed plumbing contractors, however, will make up some of the reductions by paying a business/contractor license fee of $90 per year, which is an increase of $50 (125 percent) over the annual bond filing fee of $40 previously paid. The following license fee schedule summarizes the differences between the current plumbing license fee schedule and the new uniform license fee schedule.

Plumbing license fees - Uniform Fee Schedule compared to current Plumbing Fee Schedule


Plumbing Fee Schedule

Uniform Fee Schedule



2010/2011 Fees

2012/2013 Fees

New Fee - Old Fee


$80 (2-year bond filing)

$180 (2-year license)

$100 increase


$240 (2-year license)

$80 (2-year license)

$160 decrease


$110 (2-year license)

$40 (2-year license)

$70 decrease


$25 (1-year registration)

$10 (1-year registration)

$15 decrease

Exemptions from Contractor License

State law provides limited exemptions to the plumbing contractor license requirement. Individuals without a contractor license may do plumbing work on their residence that they own and occupy. Organizations that use their own employees to maintain and repair plumbing equipment, apparatus, or facilities on their owned or leased property, within the limits of the property they own and lease, and that they operate or maintain will be exempt from being licensed as a plumbing contractor in 2012. This exemption, however, requires organizations to register their responsible licensed plumber every two years before its employees may perform plumbing work. The two-year registration fee for filing a certificate of licensed plumber will be $100.

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