Snippet of General Contractor's License Application Form in Chicago

How to apply for a General Contractor License in Chicago

Chicago General Contractor’s License Application and Renewal Forms

The process to apply for or renew a General Contractor’s License in Chicago is straightforward.  However, finding the forms to do it can be a challenge.  This article will help Chicago contractors find the necessary forms.  In addition, it discusses the steps to apply for or renew a license.

In Chicago, a Contractor’s license is issued by the City of Chicago Department of Buildings.  They recently updated their website making some tasks easier.  However, getting a contractor’s license remains difficult.  As of December 2018, the City outsources the task of issuing General Contractor Licenses, Trade Contractor Licenses, and renewals to Continental Testing Services.

The forms to apply for or renew a license can be found linked below.

These forms were updated as of November 2018.  The original documents were downloaded from Continental Testing Services’ downloadable forms.

Chicago General Contractor’s License Application Process

Chicago requires a contractor to be licensed in order to perform work for a 3rd party on private and commercial structures.  The license is annual and must be renewed.  There are five classes of license, depending on the dollar cost of work performed:

  • Class A = Unlimited contract amount
  • Class B = $10,000,000
  • Class C = $5,000,000
  • Class D = $2,000,000
  • Class E = $500,000

The amounts above represent the dollar limit per contract.  For example, if a contractor enters into a contract to perform $1,000,000 of work, it must have a Class D license.  Each Class of license costs more based on the contract amount.  The exact amounts can be found on the application itself.

In summary, to obtain a general contractor’s license in Chicago companies must complete an application, purchase insurance, and pay a fee to the Chicago Department of Revenue.  The requirements are very specific and the applicant must follow the checklist in the application.  One wrong step will lead to a rejection and lost time.  From first-hand experience, it pays to FOLLOW THE CHECKLIST.

Follow the application checklist.  DO NOT FORGET ANYTHING.  Otherwise, the City of Chicago will return the application to start the process again.

Chicago General Contractor’s Insurance Requirements

Chicago has very specific insurance requirements in order to get a license.  The insurance must name the City of Chicago as an additional insured, non-contributory entity and show an A.M. Best credit rating of B+ or higher.  Insurance must cover bodily injury and property damage. In addition, the amount of insurance you are required to purchase depends upon your Class.  The cost ranges from $1 to $5 million per occurrence as of 2018.  See the application itself for the specific insurance requirements per Class.  And do not forget to include the insurance with your application.

Chicago General Contractor’s License Classification Change

The license Class can be changed at any time during the duration of an active license or at the time of renewal. In order to change the license Class, a Contractor must submit a letter in writing requesting the change, along with proof of insurance and the appropriate license fee.  The entire fee must be submitted, not the difference between the old license and new license cost. The insurance certificate must meet the City of Chicago insurance requirements outlined in the application.  The letter must be on company letterhead and it must include the license number along with the requested Class.   The letter must be signed by an authorized officer or member of the company.

In summary, to change the General Contractor license Class, follow these steps:

  1. Submit a letter in writing requesting the change.  Identify the current license number and Class change.  The letter must be on company letterhead and must be signed by an authorized officer or member.
  2. Provide updated insurance per the new Class requirements.
  3. Submit the entire fee for the new Class.
  4. Mail the entire package to:  CITY OF CHICAGO | GENERAL CONTRACTOR LICENSE | P.O. BOX 388249 CHICAGO, IL 60638-8249

Chicago General Contractor’s License Renewal

General contractors are required to renew their license in Chicago every year.

Start the process to renew the contractor license 90 days before it expires.  It is easy to let the license lapse so establish a calendar reminder.  If the license does expire the City will prevent permit issuance under the expired license.  And they do check.

The steps to renew the license are:

  1. Complete and sign the Chicago General Contractor License Renewal Form.
  2. Obtain an updated certificate of insurance per the renewal form.
  3. Provide a signed copy of the Chicago General Contractor License Affidavit.
  4. Provide the business structure documents identified in the renewal form
  5. Provide a check for the annual fee payable to the Chicago Department of Revenue in the amount identified on the renewal form.  Make sure to include the license number on the check.
  6. Mail the entire package to:  CITY OF CHICAGO | GENERAL CONTRACTOR LICENSE | P.O. BOX 388249 CHICAGO, IL 60638-8249


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