How to Become a Contractor in New Hampshire

New Hampshire is on a short list of places that do not monitor contractors at the state level. The only state-licensed contractors are those that work with lead abatement or water wells. Electrical and plumbing contractors will also need to have a state master license or employ someone who does.

General and specialty contractors in New Hampshire must follow their municipality’s regulations. This typically includes registering your business and getting a bond, general liability insurance, and worker’s compensation coverage. 

General Contractor Requirements in New Hampshire

Unlike most other states, New Hampshire does not require its contractors to receive a state license or pass an official exam. Unless you’re employed as the qualifying party for an electrical, plumbing, lead abatement, or water well contracting company, you can begin working with a bit of training and experience. 

Most contractors start out by learning on the job through an entry-level position under another contractor or an apprenticeship. Once you’ve gained enough experience to want to go out on your own, you can begin your contracting company through these steps:

  1. Register Your Business
  2. Contract a Bond and Insurance
  3. Contract Worker’s Compensation Coverage
  4. Meet Your Municipality’s Requirements
  5. Register Your Business

All businesses in New Hampshire should be registered with the Secretary of State. This ensures your business name is unique and that you can legally work under said name. 

You can register online through NH QuickStart. If you choose a trade name that is not your legal name, you will apply for the registration of your trade name. You may also need to apply for a tax operator’s license. 

  1. Contract a Bond and Insurance

Almost every NH city will have bond and/or general liability insurance coverage requirements to complete contracting work. 

Surety bonds protect against financial loss if the contractor fails to finish a project or meet certain project requirements. Bonds make sure that the project costs will be covered no matter what occurs.

General liability insurance for contractors protects the contractor and their employees/subcontractors from the costs of man-made errors. 

  1. Contract Worker’s Compensation Coverage

Worker’s Compensation is a type of insurance that covers benefits and/or medical care when someone gets hurt on the job. This is especially important if you have any employees, subcontractors, or apprentices working for your contracting business. 

If you are a sole proprietor and don’t plan to have employees, many cities require a signed affidavit declaring your exemption from Worker’s Comp.

  1. Meet Your Municipality’s Requirements

Each NH municipality has different requirements for contractors. Some may need to register their business with the city, while others will only need to have the right insurance coverage. 

To give you an idea of what bond and insurance coverage you should get, let’s check out the requirements for three of New Hampshire’s largest cities. 

Concord, NH requires commercial general liability insurance, commercial automobile liability coverage, commercial umbrella coverage, and Worker’s Compensation.

Manchester, NH requires general liability insurance, a surety bond, automobile liability insurance, Worker’s Comp, and a payment bond.

Nashua, NH requires general liability, motor vehicle liability, and Worker’s Comp coverage.

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