Contractor examining blueprints for a framing project.

Contractor Registration Q & A

Which contractors must register with the State? 

Each contractor or business that performs "construction” work and earns at least $2,000 a year must be registered.  An individual or business that makes less than $2,000 a year in “construction” work, or who works only on their own property, is not required to register.  Employees of contractors are not required to register. 

How do I find out if a contractor is registered? 

Search the current contractor registration database.  The database does not include expired registrations. 

Do I apply for a contractor registration if I am a contractor in the Plumbing, HVAC/R, Hydronics, or Mechanical Professionals business? 

Yes.  You will apply for a combined contractor registration and contractor license with the Plumbers & Mechanicals System Board.  Do not register with the Iowa Division of Labor first. 

How do you define “construction”? 

The definition of “construction” is very broad.  Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters and many others must register.  View a list of the types of work that are included under the definition of “construction”. 

My $50 check was cashed but I did not receive my certificate by mail or email? 

The annual $50.00 fee is non-refundable.  If you sent the application in and your check was cashed but did not receive your registration certificate or do not see your business listed on our website, your application was returned to the address on the application and was incomplete.  Please contact Contraction Registration to see what is missing from your application to get your registration issued. 

Do sub-contractors have to be registered? 

Yes.   Sub-contractors are not covered under the general contractor's registration. 

What if I operate more than one business? 

You must register each construction business that has a separate federal identification number. 

Can I register online or over the phone? 

You can renew online by visiting the contractor registration public portal.  Registrations or credit cards are not accepted over the phone. 

Why must contractors register? 

  • To ensure compliance with unemployment insurance laws 
  • To ensure compliance with workers’ compensation laws 
  • To ensure payments owed to state agencies by out-of-state contractors are collected 
  • To make information about contractors available to the general public 

How do I get a copy of an application or renewal form? 

What do I do with the completed registration application? 

Submit the completed application with the required attachments and $50 non-refundable annual registration fee to the Iowa Division of Labor. 

Do all contractors have to pay the annual non-refundable $50 registration fee? 

No.  A few contractors can register for free. A self-employed contractor who does not pay more than $2,000 annually to employ other people in the business and who does not work with or for other contractors may get a free registration. If you believe you may be exempt from the fee, please complete the Fee Exemption form, have it notarized, and include it with your New Application/Renewal form

Do I have to renew my registration number? 

Yes. Your registration must be renewed every year.  The month before your registration expires, a renewal form will be sent by mail or email.  To renew use the New Application/Renewal form, mark “renewal” and write your current contractor registration number where indicated. 

What if the information on my registration changes? 

Notify the Iowa Division of Labor in writing if the information on your application changes.  Failure to do so may result in penalties. 

Will I have the same registration number every year? 

Yes.  If you renew your registration on time, you will keep the same registration number. 

What if I incorporate my business? 

If you first applied as a sole proprietor or partnership and then incorporate your business, you must re-apply as a new business and be issued a new contractor registration number. 

Is a bond needed to perform construction work in Iowa? 

With few exceptions, each contractor with a principal place of business outside of Iowa must file a $25,000 bond in order to register.  Having a branch office in Iowa does not exempt a contractor from the bonding requirement. 

Are out-of-state sub-contractors covered under the general contractor's registration and/or bond? 

No.  Subcontractors must register and have their own bond. 

What kind of bond must I have? 

Bonds must be issued on the Iowa Division of Labor Bond Form by a surety company licensed to do business in Iowa. 

What is the purpose of the bond? 

The bond guarantees that taxes, penalties, and other payments due to the State of Iowa as a result of your work are paid. Only the State of Iowa and its agencies may collect on the bond. 

What happens to the bond after I quit working in Iowa? 

Your bonding company may send a written request to the Iowa Division of Labor asking that your bond be released. 

What are the penalties if I don't comply? 

Violators may receive a $500 citation for a first violation. A citation up to $5,000 may be imposed for a repeat violation. 

If I am issued a citation, can I appeal? 

Yes.  You have 15 working days from the date you receive the citation to file an appeal with the Iowa Division of Labor. The Iowa Employment Appeal Board will set a hearing date.  If you receive a citation and promptly correct the violation, you may be eligible for a penalty reduction. 

Are there any other requirements for contractors working in Iowa? 

Visit the Iowa Department of Revenue for information on Iowa sales/use tax requirements for construction contractors.  You may also need to register with the Electrical Division of the State Fire Marshall Bureau as an electrician or with the Iowa Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Board as a plumber.  You may search for other licensing requirements in Iowa.  Contact the city or county government for each project to determine local requirements. 

How do I contact the Contractor Registration Program?