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 $5,000 (including GST)
  • all electrical wiring work
  • all plumbing, drainage and gasfitting work
  • all airconditioning and refrigeration work (except plug-in appliances).

The application process

Submitting your application

Go to our builder and tradespeople forms, the Service NSW website or visit your nearest Service NSW Centre to get the application forms and checklists. The mandatory checklists have been created to help you make sure you have everything you need to lodge your application. Print a copy, complete it and attach it to your completed individual application form.

You must lodge your application and checklist in person at a Service NSW Centre or online via the Service NSW website (contractor licences for companies and partnerships only). Only the person applying can sign the application form.

How much does it cost?

The fee will vary depending on the type of licence or certificate you are applying for. You can pay by cash, cheque, money order, credit card or EFTPOS. If you are a company or partnership applying for your contractor licence online, you can pay by credit card (MasterCard, Visa or American Express). Please note there will be a merchant fee applied. Go to our home building fees page or call 13 32 20 for more information.

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.

What if my address changes?

If your address changes while your application is being assessed by Fair Trading, you must let us know in writing of the change of address otherwise your licence card will be issued to your old address. If the card is not received by you and you failed to let us know, you’ll need to pay a fee for a replacement licence card.

What name goes on the contractor licence card?

If you are applying for an individual licence or certificate, your legal 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.

Refusal of an application 

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

  • you have not met the required qualifications or experience requirements
  • 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 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 Licencel)*
  • 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.

*Note: This includes where you stop being a director or a person concerned in the management of a company within 12 months prior to the external administration.

Cover under the Home Building Compensation Scheme

All applicants for building work licence classes must provide evidence of a current certificate of eligibility to obtain cover under the Home Building Compensation (HBC) Scheme. You can get a certificate of eligibility from icare hbcf or another licensed HBC insurer or provider.

The certificate of eligibility must be in the exact name of the applicant. If an applicant or licensee has not provided a certificate of eligibility, you can only do work that does not require cover under the HBC scheme. That is, work in which the cost of labour and materials, inclusive of GST, does not exceed $20,000. Visit the SIRA website for more information on exemptions.

Making a false or misleading statement

It is an offence to make a false statement or leave out information when applying for a licence. If it’s found that your licence has been issued on misleading grounds, you may be prosecuted and your licence may be cancelled.

Insolvency matters

Current bankruptcy or external administration

If the person that’s applying is currently bankrupt or the director of a company that is under external administration (other than external administration resulting from a member's voluntary winding up of the body corporate), Fair Trading cannot issue a contractor licence in the work categories of Building or Swimming Pool Building.

In all other cases, if Fair Trading grants an authority and it is a contractor licence, it may come with the condition: 'Only for contracts up to $20,000'.

Bankruptcy or external administration within 3 years of the application

If the person that’s applying has been discharged from bankruptcy or was previously a director of a company in external administration (other than external administration resulting from a member's voluntary winding up of the body corporate), and if the the contractor licence is granted, it may come with conditions.

For individuals

View information on nominated qualified supervisors and overseas trained applicants.

Your application

An application form and supporting documentation need to be lodged in person at a Service NSW Centre:

  • a completed Applicant’s checklist
  • 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)
  • fully completed additional details forms (if applicable)
  • proof of identity for individuals
  • the application fee.

Relevant qualifications

If you are applying for your first licence or a different licence, make sure you have the necessary qualifications and experience. Go to our licence classes and qualifications page or call 13 32 20 to check your qualifications.

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.

Proof of identity

Proof of identity (POI) for individual licence and certificate holders is required. You must show evidence in person, at a Service NSW Centre:

  • at least one POI document from list 1 with current photo and date of birth
  • two POI documents from lists 2 and/or 3, 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.

Go to our proof of identity requirements page for more information, including details of lists 1, 2 and 3.

For companies and partnerships

Your application

An application form and supporting documentation need to be lodged either in person at a Service NSW Centre or online via the Service NSW website. Supporting documentation to include:

  • a completed Applicant’s checklist for a company or partnership
  • a current company extract from the Companies and organisations page of Australian Securities and Investments Commission website (no older than 30 days from the date of application)
  • fully completed Nominated Qualified Supervisor Consent Declaration form(s)
  • fully completed additional details forms (if applicable)
  • the application fee.

Nominated qualified supervisors 

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

Go to our Nominated Qualified Supervisor page for more information.

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