Standard fact sheet.
Large print fact sheet.

Applying for a licence or certificate 

For home building or trade work 

You must have a contractor licence before you contract, sub-contract or advertise to do:

  • residential building work where the reasonable market cost of the labour and materials is more than $1,000 (including GST)
  • all electrical wiring work 
  • all plumbing, draining and gasfitting work 
  • all air conditioning and refrigeration work (except plug-in appliances).
The application process
For individuals
For companies and partnerships

The application process 

Submitting your application 

You must lodge your application in person at a Fair Trading Centre, Service NSW or Government Access Centre.

Call 13 32 20 or visit the Fair Trading website for the location of your nearest Centre.

For application forms, go to the Builder and tradespeople forms page on the Fair Trading website or visit your nearest Fair Trading, Service NSW or Government Access Centre.

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How much does it cost?  

The fee will vary depending on the type of licence or certificate you are applying for and you can pay by cash, cheque or credit card. For more information, go to the schedule of home building fees on the Fair Trading website or call 13 32 20.

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Licence assessment process 

Applications that are incomplete, do not contain all supporting documentation or the prescribed fee, will not be accepted, and may be returned to you.

Once we have received your completed application form, supporting documentation, and the fee payment, the application is assessed against the requirements. If your application is approved, we will grant you a licence number and send you a licence card.

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What name goes on the contractor licence card? 

If you are applying for an individual licence or certificate, your name will be shown on the licence card, not your business name. If the licence has been issued to a partnership or company, the name of the partnership or company will appear on the card.

Licence details also appear on Fair Trading’s public register and will show the members of the partnership or directors of the company, as well as the nominated supervisor.

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Refusal of an application 

If one of the following situations applies to you, your licence may not be granted:

  • you fail to provide details requested by Fair Trading
  • you have been disqualified from holding a licence
  • you owe money to Fair Trading as a result of a judgement
  • you hold a provisional licence or certificate
  • you are an apprentice or trainee
  • you have not complied or are unable to comply with insurance requirements
  • you are a bankrupt or were bankrupt within 3 years before the date of the application
  • you are or were a director or a person concerned in the management of a company that:
    • is or was the subject of a winding up order or
    • for which a controller or administrator has been appointed or
    • when a controller or administrator was appointed (within 3 years prior to your application for renewal)
  • you are subject to an unsatisfied Tribunal order
  • you have had an unreasonable number of:
    • complaints
    • penalty notices
    • formal cautions
    • paid insurance claims
  • your application is made using false information
  • a close associate (who is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence) exercises a significant influence over you or the operation and management of your business
  • you are deemed to be an unfit or improper person to hold a licence or certificate.

If we refuse your application, only part of the fee may be refunded, the rest is to cover processing costs.

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For individuals 

Your application 

An application form and supporting documentation such as the following will need to be lodged in person at a Fair Trading Centre, Service NSW Centre or Government Access Centre:

  • relevant qualifications – trade certificate, or other proof that you have the technical qualifications needed for the type of work you want to do
  • referee statements from licensed supervisors confirming you have the necessary practical experience (only for certain applications)
  • proof of identity for individuals
  • the application fee.

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Relevant qualifications 

If you are applying for your first licence or a different licence, make sure you have the necessary qualifications and experience. For information about the level of qualifications, and the amount and type of practical experience needed, go to the Licence classes and qualifications page on the Fair Trading website or call 13 32 20.

Individual Contractor Licences, Qualified Supervisor and Tradesperson Certificates are issued in the applicant’s legal name. Fair Trading requires that your qualification is in your correct name. That means you must ensure that the name stated on your qualification is your proper legal name. If the name on your qualification is not in your legal name you should contact the training organisation that issued your qualification and request the change prior to lodging your application for a licence or certificate.

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Proof of identity 

Proof of identity (POI) for individual licence and certificate holders is required. NSW Fair Trading requires you to produce in person, at a Fair Trading Centre:

  • at least one POI list 1 document with current photo and date of birth
  • two POI list 2 documents, at least one of which shows your current residential address (not a PO Box or other postal address)
  • one passport quality photo to be kept on file.

Find more information about proof of identity requirements on the Fair Trading website, or call 13 32 20.

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Home warranty insurance 

All applicants for building work licence classes must provide evidence from an approved insurer of:

  • current home warranty insurance, or
  • a current certificate of eligibility to obtain home warranty insurance.

Home warranty insurance certificates, or certificates of eligibility must be in the exact name of the applicant.

Alternatively, applicants may apply for an exemption from the need to hold home warranty insurance. In the case of licensees granted an exemption, the licence will be endorsed with the condition ‘Only for contracts not requiring home warranty insurance’. Licensees with this exemption can only contract to do work if the contract price does not exceed $20,000 (ie. the reasonable cost of labour and materials, inclusive of GST, does not exceed $20,000).

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For companies and partnerships 

Fair Trading has produced a checklist to help you make sure you have everything you need to lodge your application at a Fair Trading Centre, Service NSW or Government Access Centre. Please print a copy, complete it and attach it to the completed company and partnership application.

Contractor licence 

The Home Building Act 1989 prohibits a company from advertising, quoting, contracting or arranging for any residential or specialist work to be carried out without having a current contractor licence.

The maximum penalty for a company contracting to do residential or specialist work without a licence is $110,000 and the maximum penalty for partnerships is $22,000.

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Nominated qualified supervisors 

A company or partnership that is applying for a contractor licence is required to specify the name of its proposed nominated qualified supervisor and the nominated supervisor must consent to be the supervisor for the company/partnership.

If only one qualified supervisor is nominated, they must also hold a current endorsed individual contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate that includes all classes of work that the company or partnership wishes to contract for. It may be necessary for the company or partnership to nominate more than one supervisor to cover all classes of work that the company or partnership proposes to carry out.

The holder of a company or partnership contractor licence is required to notify Fair Trading within 7 days of its ceasing to have a nominated supervisor. Failure to notify is an offence.

If, without prior consent having been given by Fair Trading, the holder of a company or partnership licence does not have a nominated supervisor who is acceptable to Fair Trading for a period exceeding 30 days, the licence will be cancelled.

The nominated supervisor of a licence is required to notify Fair Trading within 7 days of them ceasing to be the nominated supervisor for that licensee. Failure to notify is an offence.

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Acceptable supervisors 

An acceptable nominated supervisor is one that is:

  • a director of the company, or
  • a member of the partnership, or
  • an existing or proposed employee.

A supervisor cannot be accepted for nomination if they are:

  • a casual employee,
  • a temporary employee, or
  • a sub-contractor.

An employee:

  • is entitled to all the benefits of all relevant industry awards
  • is a 'worker' for purposes of workers compensation legislation
  • pays tax under the PAYE (pay as you earn) system and receives tax stamps or a group certificate for the tax deducted from their wages
  • has the hours they worked recorded in their employer's wages book and is entitled to a statement with each wages payment indicating the hours for which they are paid and any deductions (including tax) made
  • is subject to the control and direction of their employer in matters not affecting their responsibility as a supervisor (eg. the scheduling of work performed by the employee, their starting and finishing times, etc).

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Dual nomination 

Dual nomination is where a supervisor is nominated for more than one company or partnership contractor licence. A company or partnership must seek the approval of NSW Fair Trading for a company or partnership to have a dual nominated supervisor. The approval is decided on a case by case basis.

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Supervisor responsibilities 

The nominated supervisor is responsible for the carrying out of all relevant work undertaken by the contractor. The supervisor actually in control of work is guilty of improper conduct if codes of practice, ordinances or regulations are breached, if unsuitable materials are used or the work is not done in a good and workmanlike manner.

A nominated supervisor must discharge their responsibilities as the nominated supervisor for their employer personally and cannot delegate them to another person.

This does not mean that the nominated supervisor must be present at the site at all times if the work being carried out is residential building work.

However, when the nominated supervisor is absent, the nominated supervisor should:

  • ensure that any work is done by the holder of an endorsed licence, supervisor certificate or registration certificate or under the supervision of the holder of an endorsed licence or supervisor certificate authorising its holder to supervise that work
  • have arrangements in place to ensure that the work is, or has been done properly (eg. be readily contactable to give instructions or on their return, promptly inspect work done in their absence).

If the nominated supervisor ceases to be a director, partner or employee, they must notify Fair Trading of this fact within 7 days. Failure to notify is an offence.

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Company administration 

A company contractor licence is cancelled if the company has become the subject of a winding up order or has been voluntarily wound up.

If a company is wound up, it is the responsibility of the directors to immediately surrender the licence card to a Fair Trading Centre or Government Access Centre, or if unable to do so, lodge a statement signed by a current director providing details of why the card cannot be surrendered.

If a director of a company that has been wound up due to insolvency holds an individual or partnership contractor licence, or is the director of another company that holds a contractor licence, it may result in an application for renewal of the licence being refused.

In this situation, if the director of the affected company is an individual, or a director of another company or a member of a partnership that holds the class of building or swimming pool building, the individual, partnership or company contractor licence may not be renewed. If the individual, partnership or company contractor licence is for a class other than building or swimming pool building, the licence if approved for renewal may have the condition imposed ‘only for contracts not requiring home warranty insurance'.

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