Contractor licensing is a specialized area of construction law that can have significant consequences to the parties involved.  Whether you are an out-of-state contractor bidding on an in-state public project, an electrical contractor on a commercial project, or a joint-venture partnership performing general contracting services, you need to check your state’s laws on licensing. 

For highway and bridge contractors in Tennessee, you should be aware of the following provisions:

Contractor License Requirement

  • Beginning for the August 3, 2012 letter, all prime contractors (except mowing and liter removal contractors) are required to be licensed with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Board for Licensing Contractors.
  • Contractors will not be required to have a license to bid, however, prior to recommending award of the Contract, TDOT will confirm that the lowest responsible bidder is licensed.
  • The Contractor will be considered for award for twenty-one (21) days after the letting date (bid submittal).
  • If the contractor does not have a license, on or before the 21 days, the contractor will be considered non-responsive, and the next lowest responsible bidder will be considered for award.
  • It is recommended that all "Prime Contractors" who are not currently licensed and intend to bid on future projects begin the process to obtain their contractor’s license.

Business License Requirements

  • Effective immediately, TDOT will not execute any contracts or approve subcontracts with contractors that are domestic or foreign Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Limited Partnerships, or Limited Liability Partnerships, who are not in good standing with the Secretary of State.  In other words, you must have a valid Certificate of Existence/Authorization.
  • This includes being duly incorporated, authorized to transact business, and/or in compliance with other requirements as detailed by the Secretary of State.
  • If you have questions, you can contact the Secretary of State at (615) 741-2286 or visit the website.  

If you are a contractor, the failure to comply with the above provisions will have certain consequences, including but not limited to: the failure to secure the award even if you are the lowest bidder; the cancellation of a current contract or a determination that you are in breach of contract; or the inability to pursue your claims in court if you are not validly licensed.