Applying for Multiple Classifications & Social Security Number Requirement

In the global economy sometimes business comes calling with a ‘foreign’ accent. Some of the legal requirements for becoming a licensed contractor in California are uniquely American and may be ‘lost in translation’…

Q:  Our company has been selected to provide a product as part of a building project in Southern California.  The General contractor has asked that we look into getting a California contractors’ license to install the product and suggested we speak with you.

We’re a foreign manufacturer that has worked in the US but has not registered in California.  Based on some research, it appears we might have a problem.  We do not have a State tax number in California nor personnel with a Social Security number.  Will we still be able to apply for a California Contractors License?

A: This is an issue that has impacted a number of foreign contractors.  The question of how to get a license when no one with the company has a US Social Security number (SSN) is one we’re often asked.  Prior to addressing this, let me say that the CA Contractors Board requires all corporate contractors to register with the CA Secretary of State, which results in being assigned a CA tax ID. This should not be a problem and can be handled by Capitol Services.

However, all out-of-state corporations are required (at a minimum) to list a President (or CEO) and the Qualifying individual who will sit for the exams (this can be the same person).   Since the fingerprint/Social Security requirement took effect in 2005, foreign companies have either had their President apply for a US SSN (which can be a lengthy process) or appointed someone with a SSN to that office.  The Social Security number is an absolute requirement.

I wish I could give you more positive information; but a company cannot secure a CA Contractors license unless all listed personnel have a United States SSN.

An alternative would be to only act as a manufacturer/supplier, which does not require a contractor’s license.   However, you could not sign a contract to INSTALL your product.  Registration with the CA Secretary of State is still necessary.  I hope this information helps.  Please get back with us if you have any further questions.


Q: I recently submitted an application for a new contractor’s license.  I applied for a “B” General Building, “C-54” Tile, and “C-20” HVAC.  I have been doing this work for over 20 years.  The CSLB rejected my application due to the fact that I was applying for multiple classifications.  Being that (from what I hear) it takes them several months to process applications, it could be a year long process to obtain these three licenses!  Is there any way around this?

A: Unfortunately, you are only permitted to apply for one classification at a time if you are testing for each of these classifications.   Your first application for an Original License may take up to three months from start to finish.  However, at this time, the CSLB is processing Additional Class applications much more quickly.   These remaining two will likely take 6-7 weeks each.  In other words, while not a yearlong process, it could take a total of 6 months.