Social Security Number Requirement & Name Rules for DBA’s

We help clarify ‘doing business as’ opportunities for contractors and steer an attorney to the only route to best serve his client and correct some mistaken impressions about foreign corporations becoming licensed in California…

Q:  I see mention on the CSLB’s name change form for using a DBA, but I see no law that requires a contractor to register a DBA with the CSLB.  Is there such a requirement?  Where is it in the law?

A:  If a company is doing business under a dba name, their license needs to reflect that name.  B&P Code section 7059.1(b) states that “a licensee shall not conduct business under more than one name for each license.”  If the license reads one name but the contractor is operating under a dba name, that would be considered conducting business as more than one name.  Operating out of name style can lead to violations with CSLB.


There are some exceptions if you are talking about a sole proprietor license though.  For example, if John Smith has a painting license issued in his personal name but does business as “Smith Painting”, the CSLB doesn’t usually get involved since it’s a personal license and he is operating with his personal name.  But please be aware that even in that case the individual may be required to register his dba with the county where he is doing business.

Q:  I am an attorney and I frequently refer my construction clients to you for help with licensing needs.  I have a new client that is part of a foreign company based outside the United States and they need to obtain a CA Contractor’s License.  I am assisting them with forming a California corporation and it is my understanding that they must list the President, Secretary, and Treasurer on the license application.  All of these officers are non-residents with no Social Security Numbers (SSN).  In speaking with a CSLB representative, I was told that the individuals were required to have SSN’s in order to be listed on the application, but it just seems very odd that there would be no way around this requirement.  How do other large foreign companies obtain CA licenses with non-resident officers? Is this actually written in the law somewhere that a US Social is required in order to get a CA License?


A:  Thank you for your question.  Unfortunately there is no way around the requirement that all individuals listed on the license application have a social security number.  This requirement took effect in 2005, so as far as other foreign companies, I can suggest that either they obtained their license prior to 2005 when SSN’s weren’t required, or their officers went through the process of obtaining US Socials prior to applying for the contractor’s license.

To address your second questions, yes, B&P Code Section 30 and Public Law 94-455 authorizes the CSLB to collect Social Security numbers.  With the exception of driver license numbers, all information requested on the application is mandatory, including disclosure of Social Security Numbers.