Division of Labor Services

Construction Workers

Contractor Registration Home Page


Contractor Registration Questions and Answers

Which contractors must register with the State?

All individual contractors and businesses performing “construction” work within Iowa must be registered with the Iowa Division of Labor if they earn at least $2,000 a year. Individuals or businesses making less than $2,000 a year in “construction” work, or who work only on their own real estate or property, are not required to register. Individual employees of eligible contractors are not required to register.  Operative builders who build on their own account for sale and land subdividers and land developers, who engage in subdividing real property into lots for sale are considered contractors. 


How do I find out if a contractor is registered?

You may search the current contractor registration database here. A complete list of registered contractors are available on the site, expired registrations or incomplete registrations will not be listed.  For further assistance, please contact the Iowa Division of Labor.


How do you define “construction”?

The definition of “construction” is very broad.  Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters and many others are involved in construction.  To view a list of the types of work that are included under the definition of “construction” click here


Do sub-contractors have to be registered?

Yes.   Sub-contractors are not covered under the general contractor's registration.


What if I operate more than one business?

You must register each construction business that has a separate federal identification number. 


Can I register and pay online or over the phone?

No.  Registrations are only accepted by mail with a check or money order.


What are the purposes of contractor registration?

  • To ensure compliance with unemployment insurance laws. 

  • To ensure compliance with workers’ compensation laws. 

  • To ensure payments owed to state agencies by out-of-state contractors are collected. 

  • To make information about contractors available to the general public.

How do I get a copy of a new application or renewal form?

What do I do with the completed registration application?

You must submit the completed application to the Iowa Division of Labor with the $50 registration fee and a Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance if you have employees. The Iowa Division of Labor, Contractor Registration must be listed as a holder on the certificate. If you already have an unemployment account number (which is different from a federal tax identification number), then notify the Iowa Division of Labor of the existing number when submitting your application, and your registration may be completed more quickly. 


Could I be exempt from the $50 registration fee?

Yes, it is possible to be exempt from paying the $50 registration fee. A self-employed contractor who does not pay more than $2,000 annually to employ others (not including yourself) and who does not work with or for other contractors in the same phase of construction may be exempt under Iowa law. If you meet the criteria and do not have to pay the $50 fee, please complete the Fee Exemption Form, have it notarized, and include it with your application


Do I have to renew my registration number?

Yes. Your registration must be renewed every year.  You will be sent one reminder notice by mail the month prior to when your registration will expire.  You may renew using the same new application/renewal form as before, just mark “renewal” and your current contractor registration number where indicated. You will have to fill out the fee exemption form again if you believe you continue to meet the criteria.


What if the information on my registration changes?

It is your responsibility to complete all forms correctly and to notify the Iowa Division of Labor in writing if you have any changes in the information you put on your application.  Failure to notify such changes as the name of the business, the owner’s name, business address, telephone number or e-mail address, may subject you to revocation or penalties. 


Will I have the same registration number every year?

Yes.  If you renew your registration on time, you will keep the same registration number.


What if I incorporate my business?

If you first applied as a sole proprietor or partnership and then incorporate your business, you must re-apply as a new business and be issued a new contractor registration number.


Is a bond needed to perform construction work in Iowa?

Out-of-state contractors must submit a $25,000 surety bond when registering.  Having a branch office in Iowa does not make you an "in-state" contractor if your business is principally based outside of Iowa.  Registering your company with the Iowa Secretary of State does not make your company an "in-state" contractor.


Are out-of-state sub-contractors covered under the general contractors registration and/or bond?

No.  You must register and have your own bond.


What kind of bond must I have?

Bonds must be executed by a surety company licensed to do business in Iowa and be issued on an official Iowa Division of Labor bond form.


What is the purpose of the bond?

The bond guarantees that taxes, penalties, and other payments due to the State of Iowa as a result of your contracting job are paid. Only the State and its agencies can collect under the bond for nonpayment. 


What happens to the bond after I quit working in Iowa?

After you have completed your work in Iowa, your bonding company must send a written request to the Iowa Division of Labor asking that your bond be released. 


What are the penalties if I don’t get registered, renew my registration every year or if I don’t get the required bond?

Violators may receive a $500 citation for not being registered, not renewing their registration, or failing to get the required bond. A citation up to $5,000 may be imposed for a repeat violation.


If I am issued a citation, can I appeal?

Yes.  You have 15 working days to file an appeal of a citation from the date you receive the citation. Your appeal will be sent to the Iowa Employment Appeal Board, and they will set a hearing for you to explain why you should not have been cited. If you do not file within the 15 working days, then you do not have any right to appeal or dispute the citation and/or penalty. If you receive a citation and promptly correct the violation, you may be eligible for a penalty reduction. 


Are there any other requirements for contractors working in Iowa?

Click here for information on Iowa sales/use tax requirements for construction contractors.  You may need to obtain a sales/use tax permit from the Iowa Department of Revenue.  For information on state-wide licenses for specific trades such as electricians and plumbers, click here.  Contact the city or county government for each project to determine local requirements.  


How do I contact the Contractor Registration Program?

Iowa Division of Labor

Contractor Registration

1000 E. Grand Avenue

Des Moines, IA 50319-0209

Phone: (515) 242-5871

Fax: (515) 725-2427

Toll free: 1-800-562-4692, Ext. 25871

E-mail: contractor.registration@iwd.iowa.gov.


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