Required Contractor Licenses in Minnesota

Licenses Required for Minnesota Contractors

There are a number of licenses required for different activities under Minnesota Law. The best way to determine what licenses are needed for any given project is to visit the Minnesota License website at On that website, click on “A-Z Indexes” or “Browse by Topics.” If the information there does not answer your question, you can contact our firm at (612) 466-0010.

One specific and common license required by construction firms is a residential building contractor license. All residential building contractors and residential remodelers who contract with an owner to construct or improve dwellings for habitation by one to four families (including detached garages) and perform two or more special skills must be licensed unless exempt as noted below. The licensing requirement also applies to any person acting as a “spec” homebuilder. The only difference between a residential building contractor and residential remodeler is a residential building contractor can build new homes and work on existing structures, whereas a remodeler can only work on existing structures.

Construction Workers / Contractors Exempt From Licensing

The following are exempt from the contractor/remodeler licensing requirements:

  • employees of a licensed contractor or remodeler;
  • material suppliers who do not install or attach the items;
  • owners doing work on their own property (unless they are engaged in building on speculation);
  • architects or engineers doing work within the scope of their practice;
  • people whose annual gross receipts from their residential contracting or remodeling activities are less than $15,000 (gross receipts are defined as the total amount derived from residential contracting or remodeling activities, regardless of where the activities are performed, and must not be reduced by cost of goods sold, expenses, losses or any other amount)*;
  • school districts and technical colleges;
  • specialty contractors who provide only one “special skill” (except residential roofers);
  • any person who only engages in activities found within one of the eight categories listed below is not required to be licensed (except residential roofers).

Any person claiming the “gross receipts” exemption must obtain a Certificate of Exemption from the Department of Labor and Industry by filing an application that requires an affidavit stating the applicant does not expect to exceed $15,000 in gross annual receipts during the calendar year for which the exemption is requested. The Certificate of Exemption must be renewed annually. If the person’s gross receipts exceed $15,000 at any time during an annual

If you work in only one of the following specialty trades (except roofing) you don’t need a residential builder/remodeler license. However if you work in two or more specialty trades, you need a license. Here are the trades the Department uses:

  • Excavation
  • Masonry/concrete
  • Carpentry
  • Interior finishing
  • Exterior finishing
  • Drywall and plaster
  • Roofing
  • General installation specialties

If you work in the roofing business, your company must also get a roofer license. You (or an employee you designate) must also pass the residential roofer trade exam to get a license.

If you have questions about whether a license is required, you should contact an attorney or the Department of Labor and Industry at (651) 284-5069 to discuss your activities and what type of license may be required. Unlicensed activity may result in administrative action and it is important to be absolutely certain before you begin any activity.