Iowa Contractor License

Written by: Nik Ventouris

In Iowa, the law requires the majority of contractors to register with the state as a prerequisite for conducting business.

Our Iowa Contractor License guide provides a detailed walkthrough of the licensing process, offering insights into the specific requirements and steps involved in becoming a licensed contractor in the state.

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Tip: If you’re planning to work as a general contractor in Iowa, we recommend forming an LLC. This is an affordable business structure that protects your personal assets against debt and/or lawsuits.

4.7 out of 5 starsNorthwest Registered Agent ($29 + state fees)

Who Needs a Contractor License

In Iowa, all construction contractors who generate over $2,000 annually are required to obtain a contractor license. This encompasses a variety of construction activities, including:

  • Carpentry
  • Electrical work
  • Plumbing
  • Roofing
  • HVAC installation and hydronic systems services

Keep in mind that you won’t need a license if you’re solely working on your own property and not providing services to others, or if your construction-related income is under the $2,000 threshold.

Which Contractor Licenses Do You Need?

In Iowa, all contractors are required to be registered with the Iowa Division of Labor in order to operate legally within the state.

For specialized contractors in certain niches, additional registration with their respective boards can also be necessary.

For example, plumbers and mechanical service providers are required to register with the Iowa Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Board, and electricians are required to register with the Electrical Division of the State Fire Marshal Bureau.

Note: Keep in mind that sub-contractors in Iowa are also required to register with the Iowa Division of Labor.

How to Get a Contractor License in Iowa

Below, you’ll find the main steps you’ll need to take in order to quickly and easily register your contractor business in Iowa.

  1. Meet the basic requirements. Before submitting an application, it’s important to check that you’re actually eligible. You will need to be:
    • At least 18 years of age
    • Capable of managing construction business activities, including field supervision
    • Have a valid unemployment insurance number
  2. Complete the Registration Application: You will need to fill out the contractor registration application from the Iowa Division of Labor’s website.
  3. Provide Proof of Insurance: Submit evidence of workers’ compensation insurance if you have employees. If you are exempt from all applicable workers’ compensation requirements, you will need to provide the necessary documentation to prove your exemption status.
  4. Submit Your Application and Fee: You will need to attach the non-refundable $50 application fee with your completed application, which can be done online by visiting the contractor registration public portal.
  5. Wait for Approval: Once your application and fee are submitted, the review process will begin. This may take several weeks, during which you will need to ensure your contact information is current in case you receive any requests for additional information or notifications regarding your registration status.
  6. Maintain Your Registration: Keep in mind that contractor registration in Iowa is not permanent. You will need to renew your registration annually, which includes updating any changes to your business details or insurance coverage.

Note: If you require further assistance, you are encouraged to contact customer service at (515) 242-5871, or email contractor.registration@iwd.iowa.gov.

Other Licenses You May Need

On top of a statewide general contractor license in Iowa, there are a number of additional licenses and permits that you may still need, which we’ve broken down in more detail below.

State Business Licenses

In order to operate legally in Iowa, there are a number of statewide business licenses you’ll likely still need to obtain before you can get up and running.

Because the building materials and services a general contractor provides to their clients as part of a construction project are generally taxable, for example, you’ll likely require a sales tax license.

Additionally, your general contractor business may require a permit from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources if it takes on certain types of projects with the potential to put public safety or health at risk, like renovating or demolishing structures with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).

City and Municipal Licenses

In addition to these statewide regulations, your business will likely still be required to satisfy some local licensing regulations as many local municipalities in Iowa often impose their own additional requirements.

For instance, in the City of Des Moines, contractors planning renovations to dwellings will need to obtain a permit from the city, which comes with a fee of $150.

Note: For more information on the licensing requirements specific to your city, please visit the Iowa League of Cities website.

Iowa Contractor License FAQ

Does Iowa require a contractor license?

Yes, Iowa mandates that individuals or businesses engaging in construction work generating over $2,000 annually must register with the Iowa Division of Labor.

This registration acts as a license, covering a broad spectrum of construction activities from carpentry to HVAC installation.

Interested in finding out more? You can check out our How to Get a General Contractor License article.

How to start a construction company in Iowa?

To start a construction company in Iowa, you will first need to ensure you meet the basic eligibility criteria, which include being over 18 and being capable of managing construction activities.

Next, you will need to register your business with the Iowa Division of Labor (you will need to show proof of insurance from a surety company licensed in Iowa).

Note that there’s a $50 application fee for this.

How do I get a mechanical license in Iowa?

To get a mechanical license in Iowa, your business will need to register with the Iowa Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Board in addition to obtaining a general contractor license with the Iowa Division of Labor.

Your business will additionally need to employ or be associated with someone who has an active master license in the mechanical field.

For more details — including how to submit a completed fee exemption form — you can take a look at our Iowa Contractor License article.

How much is a contractor’s license in Iowa?

The cost to register as a contractor in Iowa is $50. This non-refundable fee accompanies your application to the Iowa Department for Division of Labor and is required for both initial registration and annual renewal.

If you are exempt from the registration fee, you will need to include a notarized fee exemption form with your application instead.