License Requirements

Ontario Contractor License Requirements

In Ontario, there are specific trades that require the appropriate certification in order for tradespeople to work in the province. These trades are called compulsory trades. The Ontario College of Trades sets out to protect Ontarians by regulating skilled trades. It is paramount that compulsory trades have the appropriate training and certification to practice legally in Ontario.

The Ontario College of Trades is responsible for establishing apprenticeship/training programs, and issuing Certificates of Qualification, among other things.

You can check to see if the tradesperson you consider hiring is registered with the Ontario College of Trades through their 'find a member' search. Doing so will let you know if they have the appropriate compulsory certifications, regulated by the province.

In addition, you can check with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA)/Electrical Contractor Registration Agency (ECRA) for an electrician's licence number. In Ontario, electricians must be registered, certified, and licensed with the governing body before participating in any business. You can check to see if your electrician is licensed here.


The Ontario College of Trades protects the interests of the public and tradespeople. Practicing journeypersons and apprentices must meet the standards of The Ontario College of Trades in order to legally practice. Members of the Ontario College of Trades are subject to regulations including enforcement, complaint, and incident processes. The Ontario College of Trades investigates public complaints regarding its members through investigations and inspections. The College is at liberty to enforce charges, penalties, and tickets to its members if an offense has been reported about them. Members can appeal their charges.

Certifications and Qualifications

A Certificate of Apprenticeship from Ontario means that the tradesperson has completed the necessary training for their skilled trade in the province under the regulatory body, according to provincial standards. If an individual meets all apprenticeship program requirements, they are able to write a Certificate of Qualification Exam.

The Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) recognizes highly skilled workers. It means that the individual is certified to practice their trade in Ontario.

Trade Equivalency Assessment (TEA) helps tradespeople from outside Ontario become qualified to work within the province. Even though they may be certified elsewhere, and have sufficient experience and skills, they may not meet Ontario standards. Compulsory trades require that journeypersons or registered apprentices are legally certified to practice their trade professionally. The TEA certificate issues individuals to legally work in Ontario for a limited time, while they write the Certificate of Equivalence examination. Completing this assessment enables a tradesperson to complete a C of Q with The Ontario College of Trades, and practice their trade in the province.

C of Q's are not applicable for every trade. Not every tradesperson in Ontario is required to have a C of Q. Those who are eligible to take the C of Q exam include: those with a Certificate of Apprenticeship; those who have applied to the Journeyperson Class; and those who have an approved Trade Equivalency Assessment.

Tradespeople that complete the TEA Assessment and pass their C of Q are able to work across Canada on the Agreement on Internal Trade.

The Red Seal authorizes a tradesperson to work in Ontario, and interprovincially. To hold a Red Seal, Journeypersons must complete a TEA Assessment and Membership Application, and pay a verification fee before they can apply for Journeyperson membership with The Ontario College of Trades. All Red Seal tradespeople must be in good standing with The Ontario College of Trades.

Certified Workers from Quebec who hold an authorizing certificate in some trades are not required to have a membership with The Ontario College of Trades, although they may apply for Journeyperson Class.

Compulsory Trades

Compulsory trades require that a tradesperson must register as an apprentice, journeyperson, or have journeyperson certification in order to work in the field. You can check this list to view all 22 compulsory trades in Ontario. Some trades include:

Electrician (domestic, rural, contraction, and maintenance)

Electricians must have their C of Q, or be registered apprentices working with an employer. An Electrical Contractor License is issued to electrical contracting businesses engaging with clients anywhere in Ontario. Every electrical contracting business doing any electrical work must hold a valid Electrical Contractors License. To apply for the license, and individual must have at least $2,000,00 in damage insurance coverage, and have registered with the Workplace Safety Board.

Master Electricians must have a C of Q, take an additional exam, have at least 3 years of electrical experience in the trade, and either has been working as a licensed P.Eng with the PEO, or as a CET or C.Tech with the OACETT. Sole Propertiers should apply for their Master Electrician License.

Domestic and Rural electricians complete electrical wiring for construction, repairs, and remodeling.

Gas/Oil Technician

Gas Technicians must have a C of Q under the Ontario Energy Act, administered by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA). Depending on the training, the technician can have further breadth to their work capabilities.


Plumbers must have their C of Q, or be a registered apprentice in order to work in the field. Plumbers must be licensed in Ontario if they are intending to work in construction, or if they are to install fittings and fixtures for water distribution in buildings. Any plumber working in kitchen and bathroom renovations also requires a license.

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

These mechanics must have a C of Q, or be a registered apprentice in the field. These mechanics repair, service, build, and install a number of cooling systems for residential and commercial use.

Additional Licensing

Depending on municipalities, a contractor may need more licensing than the Ontario College of Trades requires for a journeyperson to work in the field.

For example, Toronto bylaws stipulate than anyone who is a building renovator needs a city of Toronto license in order to work in the city (a building renovator classifies as "a person engaged in the business of altering, repairing or renovating buildings or structures… and includes any person who solicits for such work… but does not include a building contractor whose principal business is the construction of buildings or structures.") Obtaining this licensing may require additional documentation, and further project examination by city examiners. Plumbing and heating journeypersons would need Ontario College of Trades' certifications first, and then the additional municipal licensing. Checking your municipal code will let you know what types of contractors are considered renovators, and therefore, which of your contractors needs a city license to operate.

If an officer pops by to see the building permit and the contractor does not have one, the officer can halt the project and fine the contractor.

Additionally, The Toronto Bylaw 545 asserts that city licensed renovators are to sign contracts with their clients. The bylaw states that renovators "shall enter into a written contract with the person for whom the work is to be performed to be signed by the renovator and such person".

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, or permits are required.

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

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