License Requirements

BC Contractor License Requirements

In British Columbia, specific trades require the appropriate certification in order for tradespeople to work in the province. These trades are called regulated trades. The Industry Training Authority (ITA) sets out to protect British Columbians by monitoring skilled trades. It is paramount that tradespeople working within regulated trades have the appropriate training and certification to practice legally in B.C.

Homeowners can check their tradesperson's certificate authenticity with the ITA here. Doing so will let you know if the tradesperson you plan on hiring has the appropriate certifications that are established by the governing body.

The ITA regulates and sets standards for the industry; issues the National Red Seal and Provincial Certificate of Qualifications (C of Q) credentials; and maintains accurate records of approved tradespeople in the province.

Education and Certification

Tradespeople can attend a variety of educational institutions to learn their trades. Only designated training providers can issue ITA-worthy credits.

Regulated trades are monitored for consumer protection to ensure health and safety. In order to perform work in a regulated trade, the worker must be a registered apprentice with the ITA, hold a Certificate of Qualification (C of Q), or be licensed for their regulatory trade.

An apprenticeship is a mandatory educational process for anyone entering into the regulated trades workforce. Successfully completing an apprenticeship leads to the Certificate of Qualification (C of Q). Once one has their C of Q, they are officially qualified to work in their trade across the province.

Uncertified individuals who have extensive experience in the field can take a Challenge Exam. This exam tests the individual's knowledge, and provides them with a proper certification if they pass the exam. Challenge exams allow tradespeople to bypass full programs if they have sufficient knowledge of their trade.

The Red Seal certifies highly skilled tradespeople to work across Canada, no matter where they learned their trade. This certification requires additional fees and testing.

B.C. has 3 labour protections that enable labourers to work throughout the country once they are certified. They operate between BC and Alberta; amongst BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan; and amongst all Canadian provinces.

These labour protections are called Mutual Recognition Qualifications, meaning that the ITA recognizes certifications across other jurisdictions in Canadian Provinces and Territories, and vice-versa. Mutual Recognition only recognizes labourers who are in good standing with their respective governing trade authorities, and who are sufficiently qualified for their occupation in their own province without significant additional training.

Additionally, labourers must be fully licensed or certified in the province they studied in to practice their trade in BC. However, electricians may require additional or special licences to work in BC. It's important for contractors to verify the requirements demanded by the province of B.C. before practicing their trade in the province.

Regulated Trades, Licensing, and Permits

Electricians

Electricians must have their C of Q, or be a certified apprentice in order to work in the field. Additionally, they must have an electrical license in order to work in BC if they intend on being hired by another to do electrical work. Licensing is issued by the BC Safety Authority. In order to apply for a license, the electrician must beave a surety bond of $10,000. Electricians must have a permit in order to begin electrical projects in BC.

Gas Fitters / Gas Technicians

Anyone doing gas work must have their C of Q, or be a certified apprentice in order to work in the field. If the individual intends on being hired by others, they must be licensed by the BC Safety Authority. In order to perform regulated work, a gas fitter must either be a gas contractor, or be employed by a registered gas contractor. Those who apply for a gas contractor's license must also provide a bond.

Licensed gas fitters are the only contractors who can hook up gas lines within any given home system.

Gas Fitter Class A: the Gas Fitter can install any gas system.

Gas Fitter Class B:  the Gas Fitter can install atmospheric appliances with ventilation hoods and other hooded and vented equipment (up to 400,000 BtuH).

Gas Piping License: the holder may install and test gas piping (employed by contractor)

Gas Venting License: the holder may alter, repair, and install venting (employed by contractor)

Plumbing

Plumbers must have their C of Q, or be a certified apprentice in order to work in the field. No license is required. Qualified plumbers work on residential, industrial, and commercial projects. They cannot work on refrigeration circuits. It is recommended that you check with your municipality in case plumbing permits are required in your city before you begin a plumbing project.

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

All HVAC tradespeople must have a C of Q, or be a registered apprentice. Refrigeration technicians must be licensed depending on their class (AU, AP, REF). Refrigeration Mechanics service, repain, and make cooing and heating systems.

Residential Builder

From Vancouver to Victoria, and across the province, any builder is set to build a home in BC must have a residential builders license. Residential builders must obtain a building permit in B.C. Additionally, they must provide home warranties covering the building. Even if municipalities don't require the builder to be licensed, they still need to arrange a home warranty for the build.

Hiring any Licensed Residential Builder in B.C. gives homeowners an advantage if they build new homes. Licensed builders are covered by mandatory warranty insurance. This warranty is attached to the home itself, and can last through re-sale. There are restrictions on the warranty stipulated on the Homeowners Protection Office website. The warranty can cover:

  • 2 years on labour and materials
  • 5 years on building envelope (building envelope renovators must also be licensed, with licensed sub/contractors)
  • 10 years on structure

You can check to see if the builder you intend on hiring is in good standing with the Public Registry of Residential Builders here. The Licensed Residential builder is responsible for making sure their sub/contractors are properly licensed up to provincial standards as well.

It is the residential builder's responsibility to make sure their electricians and plumbers are properly licensed.

Changes to Licensing Requirements

Because licensing requirements change, it is important that you check with both your provincial and municipal office to verify if any updates have been made, or additional licenses are required.

If you understand that there are additional or updated licensing requirements, or restrictions or laws pertaining to skilled trades performed in BC, feel free to comment in the forum below.

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