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Already have what you need to complete an application or renewal? Visit iMS, the department’s online application and renewal system, to get started

The information below will help you complete the application or renewal successfully.

Who needs a license?

  • Any individual or company that contracts directly with an owner of residential real estate (one to four units) to provide work in more than one special skill must have a residential building contractor or residential remodeler license.

  • An owner of residential real estate who builds or improves homes for resale or speculation must have a residential building contractor or residential remodeler license.

  • Any individual or company that contracts directly with an owner of residential real estate (one to four units) to provide just roofing work must have a residential building contractor, residential remodeler, or residential roofer license.

    • A residential roofer license does not allow the licensee to perform any work besides roofing

    • A licensed roofer cannot contract to provide the installation of gutters, downspouts, soffit, or fascia – this work requires a residential building contractor or residential remodeler license

What’s the difference between a residential building contractor license and a residential remodeler license?

  • A residential remodeler can only perform work on existing structures; they cannot build new homes or detached garages 

  • A residential building contractor can perform all of the work that a residential remodeler can plus they can build new structures

Who does not need a contractor license?

  • Subcontractors who do not contract with the homeowner, but they must register with us through the Construction Contractor Registration Program;

  • Commercial contractors, but they must register with us through the Construction Contractor Registration Program;

  • Employees of a licensed contractor;

  • Contractors that work on residential buildings with more than four units;

  • Material suppliers that do not install or attach the items they sell;

  • Owners doing work on their own property (unless they build or are improving properties they own for purposes of resale or speculation);

  • Architects or engineers doing work within the scope of their practice;

  • Landlords performing work other than plumbing or electrical work on their residential rental units

  • Residential building contractors whose gross annual receipts from their residential activities are less than $15,000 and have a Certificate of Exemption. Gross annual receipts are the total amount derived from residential contracting or remodeling activities, regardless of where the activities are performed, and must not be reduced by cost of goods sold, expenses, losses or any other amount.

What is a special skill area?

A contractor who provides services in more than one special skill area must be licensed. Specialty contractors who provide only one special skill are not required to have a state license (except residential roofers).

Special skill means one of the following eight categories

1. Excavation

  • excavation

  • trenching

  • grading

  • site grading

2. Masonry/concrete

  • drain systems

  • poured walls

  • slabs and poured-in-place footings

  • masonry walls

  • masonry fireplaces

  • masonry veneer

  • water resistance and waterproofing

3. Carpentry

  • rough framing

  • finish carpentry

  • doors, windows and skylights

  • porches and decks (excluding concrete footings)

  • wood foundations

  • drywall installation (excluding taping and finishing)

4. Interior finishing

  • floor covering

  • wood floors

  • cabinet and countertop installation

  • insulation and vapor barriers

  • interior or exterior painting

  • ceramic, marble and quarry tile

  • wallpapering

  • ornamental guardrail and installation of prefabricated stairs

5. Exterior finishing

  • siding

  • soffit, fascia and trim

  • exterior plaster and stucco

  • painting

  • rain carrying systems, including gutters and down spouts

6. Drywall and plaster

  • installation

  • taping

  • finishing

  • interior plaster

  • painting

  • wallpapering

7. Roofing

  • roof coverings

  • roof sheathing

  • roof weatherproofing and insulation

  • repair of roof support system, but not construction of new roof support system

  • penetration of roof coverings for purposes of attaching a solar photovoltaic system

Roofers are required to obtain a license.

8. General installation specialties

  • garage doors and openers

  • pools, spas and hot tubs

  • fireplaces and wood stoves

  • asphalt paving and seal coating

  • ornamental guardrail and prefabricated stairs

  • assembly of the support system for a solar photovoltaic system

What about solar contractors?

Effective July 1, 2023, companies that contract with residential homeowners to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on homes in Minnesota must be licensed as a residential building contractor or remodeler. This license requirement allows homeowners to make claims to the Contractor Recovery Fund in the event a solar company goes out of business, bankrupt or is otherwise unable to complete a solar PV installation project, resulting in an out-of-pocket loss to the homeowner.

The actual installation of the solar PV system must be performed by a Minnesota-licensed electrical contractor. This change does not impact Minnesota-licensed electrical contractors that are subcontracted by licensed residential building contractors and remodelers to perform the installation of solar PV systems on residential structures.

How do I get a license?

First, each entity that intends to obtain a license must identify an individual who will act as the “qualifying person” for the entity’s license. The qualifying person must:

  • be an owner, officer, member, partner, chief manager, or a managing employee of the applicant,

  • be actively engaged in the business of residential contracting on the applicant’s behalf if the QP is a managing employee,

  • not be the qualifying person for another company’s license unless there is 25% common ownership between the companies,

  • pass a written exam administered by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI).

What happens after the qualifying person passes the exam?

  • Once the qualifying person passes the exam, they will be assigned a “Q number,” which is a registration and not a license - it’s used for tracking the individual’s future continuing education. 

  • The Q number will start with the letters QB (for qualifying builder), QC (for qualifying remodeler) or QR (for qualifying roofer), followed by a six-digit number.

  • This number must be provided when applying for a license.

  • A Q registration is good for two years from the date the individual passed the license exam and must be renewed every two years.

  • Note: the qualifying person's registration expiration date will likely not be the same expiration date as the company’s license expiration date.

  • All qualifying persons must complete 14 hours of DLI-approved continuing education to renew their Q registration.

    • At least one hour must relate to the Energy Code.

    • At least one hour must relate to business management strategies.

  • With your qualifying person's Q number, you can now submit a license application.

Information required before submitting a license application

Proof of public liability and workers’ compensation insurance

Your license will not be approved unless DLI has current information on your liability insurance policy and your compliance with Minnesota’s workers’ compensation insurance requirements. Policies must be written by an insurance companies licensed to sell insurance in Minnesota. Proof of liability insurance can be an ACORD certificate or a DLI-approved certificate.

  • Be sure your business name appears on the insurance certificate EXACTLY as it appears on your Secretary of State business filing.

  • Insurance certificates must be produced by a licensed insurance agent and be signed by the agent.

  • Be sure DLI is listed as a “certificate holder” on the certificate.

  • The policy must provide coverage for “premises, operations and products, and completed operations.”

  • The minimum coverage is $100,000 per occurrence, $300,000 aggregate, and $25,000 in property damage coverage.

  • You will be asked to upload the completed insurance certificate during the online license application process.

Proof of workers’ compensation insurance must be provided on a DLI-approved form.

  • You will be asked to upload the completed form during the online license application process

Liability insurance certificates and workers’ comp compliance forms can also be emailed to

Active business filing with the Minnesota Secretary of State

Business must be properly filed with the Minnesota Secretary of State. A Secretary of State business filing is required for all business structures except an individual proprietorship or partnership in which the full legal name(s) of the individual(s) operating the proprietorship or partnership are included in the business name 

Be careful how you file your business name with the Secretary of State:

  • You must use that exact name on all parts of the license application process, including your insurance certificate.

  • You may only conduct business under the exact name listed on your Secretary of State business filing.

  • If you intend to use any other business name for your entity, you will need to file that name with the Secretary of State as an assumed name (also known as a “dba”) and provide evidence of that filing to DLI.

Be sure to keep your business filing up to date as your license cannot be renewed unless your Secretary of State filing is active.

License application fees

The base license fee is $180.

An additional fee is required for the Contractor Recovery Fund based on your gross annual receipts.

  • $320 if gross annual receipts are under $1 million

  • $420 if gross annual receipts are between $1 and 5 million

  • $520 if gross annual receipts are over $5 million

Preparing to submit a license application through iMS

Before you begin the license application process in iMS, please be sure that:

  • Your business filing with the Minnesota Secretary of State is current. Include a copy of your certificate of incorporation or a screen shot of the information on your company from the Secretary of State’s website.

  • Your business name appears on all application forms exactly as it is filed with the Secretary of State (including “Inc.” or “LLC” as appropriate).

  • Your business name and address appear on your certificate of liability insurance exactly as they are filed with the Secretary of State.

  • Signatures must appear as requested on the application documents.

  • Provide a detailed written explanation for any "yes" answers on the background disclosure form.

Access iMS to begin the license application or renewal process

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Contact us at or 651-284-5034.