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Rhode Island Contractor Licensing Guide


Last Updated Aug 23, 2023

Illustration of Rhode Island contractor license with hardhat and map of America with Rhode Island highlighted

In Rhode Island, all residential and commercial contractors and subcontractors need to be registered with the state's Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board (CRLB). However, registration is not the same as licensing, which is only required for a few select trades, including electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and HVAC.

Below, we'll cover all of the steps you need to take as a contractor to get properly registered — and licensed if necessary. Following these steps can help you keep your business above board and avoid costly fines for violations.


Table of contents

How to register as a contractor in Rhode Island

Only a few contractor types need to carry state-issued licenses, but Rhode Island requires all contractors to register with the state, including general contractors and subcontractors. Here are the state requirements and steps to take to get registered.

  • Register your businesses with the Contractor’s Registration and Licensing Board.
  • Attend five hours of Pre-Education Courses. You can take these classes in person or online.  
  • Obtain a $500,000 Certificate of Liability Insurance and a Certificate of Worker's Compensation Insurance. Both should cite CRLB as the certificate holder.
  • Pay a $150 registration fee via credit card, debit card, or checks made payable to RICRLB / 560 Jefferson Boulevard / Warwick, RI 02886

Once contractors are registered, they will be required to renew their registration by completing continuing education and providing documentation that they are still properly insured. If you're renewing an expired license there is an additional $50 late fee.

How to get a contractor license in Rhode Island

Certain contractors need licenses that prove they have the experience and knowledge to do the job. This includes plumbers, electricians, mechanical professionals, HVAC professionals, and underground utility workers — though the list isn’t exhaustive.

These licenses are provided by the Department of Labor and Training.

Applying for a license is a straightforward process that includes the following steps:

  • Take an examination proving competency in your trade
  • Fill out an application
  • Pay an application fee

Applicants for licenses can check their application status at any time, and anyone is able to publicly search for licenses as well as license violations.

Penalties for unlicensed contracting in Rhode Island

If the state catches a contractor working without registering or carrying the appropriate license, a first offense can be punishable by a fine of up to $5,000. And, for any subsequent offenses, the penalty jumps sharply to $10,000 each.

Importantly, a contractor doesn’t have the right to file a mechanics lien in Rhode Island if they don’t hold the appropriate license or they don’t register with the state.

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Business Management



Written by

Tom Scalisi

57 articles

Tom Scalisi is a writer with over 15 years of experience in the trades. He is passionate about educating contractors and specialty contractors about the best practices in the industry. He has seen first-hand how education, communication, and preparation help construction professionals overcome challenges to build a strong career and thriving business in the industry.

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