How to Check a Contractor License

Checking whether a contractor is properly licensed is very easy. Go to the Board’s web site: www.cslb.ca.gov and on the left side, you’ll see this box:

Instant License Check

Click on this link even if you don’t know the license number. What will appear next will be a page with five buttons in the middle that gives you options where you can find out if the contractor is properly licensed to provide the work he or she is proposing. The options below are listed in the sequence best able to get you that information with “Search Tips” on the bottom of the page to help you:

  • License Number – Licensed contractors must include their license number on any advertising so if you already have something from them, this is an easy way to find them in the database
  • Business Name – If you don’t have the number, but you do have the name of the business, click on this link
  • Personnel Name – You may be talking to someone who claims to be or to represent a licensed contractor. This option can help when you don’t have a license number or perhaps you’re unsure of the company name
  • His Number – sales people who are authorized to represent a licensed contractor are assigned a number that ties them back to the company they represent.
  • His Name – when all else fails, try accessing the records through the person’s last name. A bit harder search, but a check here can help determine credibility

If you don’t find what you’re looking for, do not jump to the assumption that the contractor lied to you and isn’t really properly licensed. Remember that computers and their databases are only as smart as the people who enter the data. Let’s use my company as an example. If you didn’t have my license number, you’d probably start searching with the second button – ‘Business Name’. Try typing in ‘HB Contracting’. Click on the button and you find . . . . nothing; no HB Contracting!

Someone in the Contractors Board office decided to add a space between the ‘H’ and the ‘B’ so unless you typed in ‘H B Contracting’, you might assume I don’t exist. This error may be corrected by the time you read this, but the lesson here is don’t assume – just contact the contractor and ask for help in finding him or her in the Board’s database (don’t take their word for it either – check it out).

Once you’re found the contractor in the database, you’ll get a page that provides some basic information on the licensee.  So is the contractor in the clear? Many consumers stop at this point but there’s much, much more to this page of information so while you’re there, why not take the next step? How we analyze this information is the subject of our next posting.

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