How to Become a Car Dealer: Requirements & Cost

Auto dealerships come in all shapes and sizes. Some are sprawling businesses with hundreds of vehicles on-site while others are tiny car lots with a few vehicles for sale. There are also auto dealers that sell vehicles independently without a permanent location. There are many options for how to become an auto dealer as well as compelling reasons to enter a market for auto sales and parts valued at over $343 billion

Before you can work as an auto dealer, however, you will need to meet certain requirements and prepare for a few costs. In particular, you will need to obtain an auto dealer license for the state where you plan to operate. Every state requires auto dealers to have a license, and there can be strict penalties for selling vehicles without one, including being banned from ever obtaining a license again. If you’re curious how to become a car dealer, begin by following the steps to obtain a license and meet the requirements and costs outlined below. 

Step 1: Determine if You Need a License

You may not need a license if you only plan to sell a few vehicles. If you want to sell your own car, for instance, you don’t need a license to proceed with the sale. Every state sets its own requirements for who needs an auto dealer license and when. In some states, anyone who plans to sell more than 3 vehicles will need a license while in other states the threshold is a little higher. That being said, if you plan to make a full-time or part-time job of auto sales, expect to need a license.

Step 2: Work With Your State Agency

As we said before, every state regulates auto dealers independently and creates unique rules for that state. In addition to creating license requirements, there are also requirements about dealer conduct designed to ensure that auto sales run in a fair and transparent fashion. Before going any further in the process of how to become a car dealer, find out what agency regulates auto dealers in your state, then contact them to ask questions and get good information.

License requirements and dealer rules can change, and the agency that writes those rules will be the best source for accurate, up-to-date information. That agency will also be the one to process your license application, so they may offer resources to help that process run smoothly.

Step 3: Make a Business Plan

You will need to have certain aspects of your business either established or decided upon before being granted an auto dealer license. It’s also a smart move to have your business ready to hit the ground running as soon as the state grants a license. For those reasons, figure out what kind of auto dealer you intend to be first.

Where will you operate? What kind of auto lot will you utilize? What technology and processes do you need to run your business effectively? Will you need to hire staff? These are all important questions that impact not just your ability to get a license but also your ability to be successful and sustainable. The more you figure out early, the better. 

Step 4: Request an Application Packet

Once you’re ready to get a license, request the necessary forms and documents from the agency you connected with during Step 2. They will send you a packet of information and forms, or you may be able to access some or all this information online. This packet will make it clear what requirements you need to meet and what costs you need to pay to become a licensed auto dealer.

Step 5: Complete the Application Packet

Even though every state has different license requirements, there are some common requirements you will probably have to comply with. Those include:

  • Proof you have a business license
  • Proof you have insurance
  • Permission to run a background and credit check
  • A detailed business plan, including information about the car lot where you intend to operate your business.

Step 6: Obtain an Auto Dealer Surety Bond

Among the most important steps for how to become an auto dealer is the mandate to obtain an auto vehicle dealer surety bond. This type of surety bond, like all other types, makes the bondholder (in this case the auto dealer) financially liable for illegal or unethical behavior that results in damages to individual car buyers or the public at large.

For example, if a dealer sells a vehicle with the odometer rolled back to make it look like it has fewer miles than it actually does, the person who buys that vehicle may file a claim against the surety bond seeking compensation equal to the vehicle cost. Provided that the claim holds up under investigation, the surety that backs the bond will offer an immediate settlement, then work to collect that same amount (plus interest and fees) from the dealer who sold the car. By holding dealers accountable, surety bonds create an incentive to follow the rules, which is why all states have bond requirements. 

You can obtain a bond by finding a surety agency that issues the required bond in your state. Prepare to complete an application with info about your background, finances, and business interests. You will also need to submit to a credit check and turn over any additional documents the surety requests. The surety will quote a bond price based on the application materials. It will be a small percentage of the bond’s total size, with higher costs for bond seekers with poor credit. 

Following this, you will pay the quoted price to activate the bond, at which time the surety will provide a document proving you have met the motor vehicle dealer surety bond requirements. You will also need to keep that bond active and in good standing, which means avoiding claims at all costs and paying to renew the bond on an annual basis.

Step 7: Pay the Required Fees

After completing everything in the license packet, you will need to submit everything back to the state licensing agency along with applicable fees. Those fees vary by state, from less than $100 in some places to multiples more in other places. There might also be additional costs associated with the application, like paying for the surety bond or enrolling in training courses if necessary. If you are investigating how to become a car dealer and getting serious about following all the steps outlined above, make sure you are also budgeting and saving for all the upfront costs. 

Viking Bond Service – Motor Vehicle Dealer Bonds in 24 Hours!

Get your career in auto sales off to a great start by partnering with Viking Bond Service. We can help you get a motor vehicle dealer bond in all 50 states, and we make the process simple, fast, and as inexpensive as possible. Request a quote at any time to get a response within 24 hours. Or get more information about bonding by contacting us or calling 1-888-2-SURETY (1-888-278-7389). 

How to Become a Contractor: Step By Step Guide

Starting a career as a contractor looks like a smart move right now. There is a building boom on the horizon as society recovers from the pandemic, replaces aging infrastructure, adopts green energy, and lays the groundwork for the future. All signs suggest that America will need lots of new contractors who can expect steady, lucrative work for years to come. 

If this sounds appealing to anyone looking to start or switch careers, you will need to know how to become a contractor. Acquiring the right skills and tools is only part of the process. You must also meet legal requirements imposed by the state agencies that regulate the construction industry. You can’t work as a contractor until you meet these requirements, so start planning immediately with the help of this step-by-step guide. 

Step 1: Plan Your Path

There are hundreds of different kinds of contractors involved with everything from plumbing and HVAC to building roads and erecting skyscrapers. The term contractor can apply to almost any specialist in the construction industry. But it also applies to general contractors who work in multiple specialties at once. 

Before you can figure out how to become a licensed contractor, you need to determine what kind of contractor you plan to be. Your skills and interests will be important to consider as well as the compensation and growth prospects in different parts of the construction industry. Since you’ll be going through the trouble to obtain a contractor’s license, which takes time and money, you will want to stick with whatever kind of contracting you ultimately choose. Take your time deciding. 

Once you know what you want to do, study how to become a contractor in that field. We will cover the general steps to follow here, but it’s important to know the details. The state agency that regulates your kind of contractor will be the best source for accurate, up-to-date information. Talking with employers, unions or other contractors active in that field can be informative as well. 

Step 2: Meet the Education Requirements

All licensed contractors will need to have a high school diploma or GED. A college degree is not required, but there can be advantages for getting one before becoming a contractor. Depending on what you study, you will gain knowledge and experience that will help you excel in your contracting career. Some of that experience may even count towards the state contractor’s license requirements. 

Those requirements vary by state, but all require contractors to have a minimum amount of verifiable experience working alongside licensed contractors on real construction projects. The specifics of what does and doesn’t count as experience can get complicated. Typically, contractors need no less than three years of experience to get a contractor’s license. 

Step 3: Complete Your Training

Many states require contractors to complete a training course or pass an exam (or both) to become eligible for a license. Every state sets its own requirements, and some are much more extensive than others, so it’s helpful to contact your state contractor licensing board directly. They will have good information along with resources to help you complete training and register for exams. 

Training and exam requirements can relate to the specific skills or services you provide – eg. carpentry, electrical work, etc. They can also apply to the state and local building codes that contractors will need to follow, the ethical standards and legal requirements they must comply with, and the health and safety practices they must abide by. Some contractors even undergo required training in business management. 

Step 4: Structure Your Business

Contractors are businesses, not individuals, in the eyes of regulators. That’s why you will need to have the basics of your business set up before you can apply for a state contractor’s license. First, decide what kind of business entity to operate as:

  • Sole Proprietor
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
  • Corporation

Some people consult with a lawyer or accountant before choosing a business entity because it has long-term implications for the business. Consider the pros and cons of each option extensively. You will also need to register a trade name for your business and request an Employer Identification Number if you plan to hire other people. 

This can also be a great time to plan other aspects of the new business even if it’s not part of the license requirements. Getting a jump start on things like accounting, marketing, and other things every business needs makes success more likely after getting a license. 

Step 5: Obtain a Surety Bond

One of the most important (and misunderstood) parts of the license process is obtaining a surety bond. Surety bonds hold someone (called the principal) accountable for illegal or unethical actions that cause damages to another party (called the obligee). That obligee may file claims against the surety bond that are guaranteed to be paid by the company (called the surety) that backs the bond. The principal must then repay the surety with interest and fees added to the debt or have it sent to collections. 

States require contractors to get surety bonds because bonds create an incentive to follow state construction laws. And if someone doesn’t follow those laws, surety bonds hold them liable and guarantee damages to their victims. Even though surety bonds create extra costs and risks for contractors, they also build trust in the construction industry and individual contractors. Surety bonds benefit everyone. 

State agencies decide how large the bond must be. Getting one involves the following:

  1. Find a reputable surety agency that serves contractors in your state.
  2. Complete a surety bond application, supplying info about your background, finances, and business interests. 
  3. Agree to a credit check. 
  4. Provide a copy of the specific surety bond requirements. 
  5. Work with underwriters to meet any other information requests.

The surety will quote the bond cost based on your application and credit history. You should expect to pay a small percentage of the bond’s total value, with lower credit scores leading to high bond costs. Fortunately, resources like the bad credit surety bond program from Viking Bond Service help more contractors get approved at fair rates. Pay the quoted price to activate bond coverage and plan to keep coverage active for as long as you have a contractors’ license. Any lapses in bond coverage make a license invalid. 

It’s important to distinguish between two different surety bond types: A contractor license bond and a contractor bond. The first holds you accountable for illegal behavior and is mandatory for getting a contractor’s license, whereas a contractor bond holds you accountable for contractual violations. It’s also often required by project owners before hiring a contractor. Focus on getting a contractor license bond to start, but be prepared to get contractor bonds later on. 

Step 6 – Apply for a Contractor’s License

Having met all the previous steps, you are ready to apply for a contractor’s license. How that process works depends on the state, but you should expect to complete an application and provide proof of the following:

  • Your registered business entity
  • General liability insurance
  • Worker’s compensation insurance
  • Contractor license bond

Licensing fees range from $50 to $200 and, like surety bonds, also require renewal on an annual or biannual basis. 

Viking Bond Service – A Long-Term Bond Partner

Surety bonds are a fact of life for contractors. You will need to obtain a bond at the start of your career and keep it for the duration. Along the way, you may need additional surety bonds for each project you sign a contract to complete. That’s why it helps to have a surety agency you can always trust to meet your bonding needs. 

Viking Bond Service has a stellar reputation for its years of service to contractors across the country. We help contractors get all the bonds they need in all 50 states, taking all of the confusion, hassle, and inflated cost out of the process in order to easily meet bond requirements. 

Request a no-obligation, free quote to explore how much a bond will cost. Expect a quote in under 24 hours and you can choose to start bond coverage immediately. For additional questions on surety bonds or how to become a contractor, contact us in writing or call 1-888-2-SURETY (1-888-278-7389). 

How to Get a Freight Broker License in Five Steps

Whether by truck, rail, pipeline, or other means, massive amounts of freight travels through the US every day. To put this into perspective, trains move around 1.7 billion tons of freight every year, and the trucking industry generates over $700 billion in economic activity annually. To call the freight market massive is an understatement. 

Making it all work requires an army of professionals – including freight brokers who make connections between shippers and transporters. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for qualified freight brokers will increase by 30% between 2020 and 2030, adding almost 60,000 new brokers. With higher demand comes lots of job opportunities and better pay, making freight broker look like an appealing career option. 

If you plan to pursue this path, you will need to get a freight broker license before you can broker a single deal. That’s the law in all 50 states. Brokering a deal without a license leads to strict penalties including permanent loss of license, potentially. 

Getting a freight broker license (also known as a cargo broker license or truck broker license) should be your first and biggest priority. We have outlined the most common requirements below:

Step 1: Pick a Business Structure

A freight brokerage is a business and will need to operate as such. That means selecting and then declaring a structure for the business:

  • Individual/Sole Proprietor
  • Partnership
  • Corporation

The right choice may not be obvious. Plus, there are pros and cons to each of these options, and long-term implications as well. That’s why many entrepreneurs, freight brokers or otherwise, consult with a lawyer or accountant about which structure to select. A consultation is not a requirement to get a license. Rather, it’s a resource that some (but not all) freight brokers rely on to build the best foundation for their budding business. You will need to report which structure you choose on the freight broker license application. 

Step 2: Obtain a Motor Carrier Number

The next step is to obtain a motor carrier number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): the agency that regulates freight brokers and grants licenses. You will need to request a number by submitting the OP-1 Form, which functions as an initial application for a freight broker license. The form requires general business information (including business structure). Applicants will need to select either “Broker of Household Goods” or “Broker of Property (except Household Goods)” under Section III designating the Type of Operating Authority. Plan for a $300 application fee.

Online applications will immediately receive a motor carrier number. Applications mailed to the FMSCA will get a number within four weeks. The application process cannot proceed until you have a number, making it especially important to take this step early and correctly.

Step 3: Secure a Surety Bond

Every freight broker will need to prove they have a type of surety bond known as freight broker surety bond before being granted a license. This process can seem confusing and daunting at first, especially compared to the other steps on this list, but it’s quite simple to obtain a surety bond. Before explaining how to get a bond, however, it’s important to cover how one works. 

Freight broker surety bonds hold a broker financially liable for misconduct that causes damages to clients or the public at large. When a broker does something illegal or unethical, the parties hurt by that behavior may file claims against the surety bond for compensation equal to the damages caused. The surety that backs the bond guarantees immediate payment in full for all valid claims. Afterward, the broker that caused the claim must repay the surety – with interest and fees added – or have the debt sent to collection and the bond contract terminated, which would invalidate the freight broker license. 

Securing a bond involves finding a trusted surety agency, completing an application, and submitting to a credit check. The surety will then quote a premium price unique to each applicant. The license requires a $75,000 surety bond, but the bond cost will be a small percentage of the total, less or more depending on credit. 

Bond coverage goes into effect upon paying the premium, at which time the surety agency will provide a document proving as much. The FMCSA will need a copy of this document to verify bond coverage. You will need to obtain a freight broker surety bond upfront, then keep it active and in good standing for the duration of your career. That involves renewing it every 12 months, at which time the surety will reevaluate credit and quote a new premium price. 

Step 4: Pick a Process Agent

A process agent serves as a representative for a freight broker in the event that broker must be served with court papers. Essentially, process agents are a way to hold brokers legally accountable, similar to how surety bonds hold them financially accountable. Brokers will need to work with a process agent in each state where they have an office or write contracts, but there are also companies that can offer blanket coverage in all states. Once selected, the process agent must fill out Form BOC-3 for submission to the FMCSA. 

Step 5: Register the Business

Part of the final steps before getting your freight broker license is to register with the Unified Carrier Registration: a nationwide database of broker registrations, financial liability information, and fee disclosures. By joining this registry, a broker agrees to abide by rules that apply to everyone in the industry and pay all required fees to the state where the main office is located. Brokers should also familiarize themselves with all rules relevant to freight transport in the states where they conduct business. Knowing these rules could help you prevent expensive infractions later, including claims against the freight broker surety bond. 

Take the Next Step With Viking Bond Service

When you arrive at step three – securing a surety bond – rely on Viking Bond Service for everything you need. We can get you a quote for a bond within 24 hours in most cases. And unlike other surety agencies, we don’t immediately disqualify people with bad credit. Our mission is to help more people get the surety bonds they need without stress, hassle, or inflated costs. 

Request a quote at your convenience. There is no fee and no obligation to go further. Our team is also happy to answer your questions and provide more info about anything. Contact us in writing or call 1-888-2-SURETY (1-888-278-7389). 

What to Know About Washington Plumbing Bonds

As of July 2021, anyone working as a plumber in Washington State must obtain a license. Before you can get a license, however, you need to get a Washington plumbing bond. Since this requirement is still relatively new and unfamiliar, we have created this blog to explain everything you should know. 

What is a Washington Plumbing Bond

This is one example of a contractor licensing bond: a type of surety bond that many contractors need to get before they can obtain a mandatory professional license from the state. 

All surety bonds work in essentially the same way. There are three parties involved:

  • Principal – The principal is the plumber who must obtain the surety bond. As the principal, the plumber must accept financial liability for all valid claims.
  • Obligee – The obligee is the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, the agency that licenses plumbers. As the obligee, this agency may file claims for damages if the principal violates state laws applicable for plumbing contractors. 

Surety – The surety is the agency that issues and backs a plumbing bond in Washington. The surety guarantees to pay the obligee for valid claims if the principal does not pay. However, the principal must pay that debt back later, with interest and fees included, since they are the party with liability for claims. The surety only serves as an intermediary.

Why Are Washington Plumbing Bonds Necessary?

Most states require contractors to obtain surety bonds before granting them a license because contractor bonds help to regulate their behavior. Since a plumber must pay for any damages resulting from unlawful or illegal behavior, they have a good reason to follow all applicable rules and regulations – which is good for the people (and plumbing) of Washington. Surety bonds also help anyone harmed by a plumber to receive a settlement without having to go through the courts system. 
Even though plumbing bond requirements create new costs and risks for plumbers, they are a good thing for the industry overall. They make it harder for dishonest or unstable contractors to enter the industry and give other plumbers a bad name. Surety bonds also establish trust for any contractor that obtains one since that contractor proves they are willing to take responsibility for mistakes. It would be easy to feel bitter about bond requirements, especially if you have been a plumber for years. Just keep in mind how surety bonds benefit all involved.

Who Needs a Plumbing Bond in Washington?

Anyone who provides plumbing services in Washington state needs a license and therefore needs a surety bond. There are two different license types:

  • Residential Speciality License – This license authorizes a plumber to work on residential properties, small buildings, irrigation systems, and backflow prevention assemblies. It requires 6,000 hours of experience.
  • Journeyman License – This license authorizes a plumber to work on any kind of property or plumbing project. It requires 8,000 hours of experience with a minimum 4,000 in commercial work. 

Both these license types require a surety bond worth $6,000, meaning the surety that backs the bond will pay up to (but not exceeding) $6,000 to settle claims.

How Much Does a Plumbing Bond in WA Cost?

The cost of the bond will be a small percentage of the $6,000 value. How much, exactly, depends on the bond seeker’s credit score and financial history. Bad credit will result in a higher cost or even a rejection. If your credit makes it harder to get approved for a bond at a fair rate, take advantage of a special program created by Viking Bond Service to help more people – including more Washington plumbers – obtain bonds.

Are Washington Plumbing Bonds Renewable?

Yes, they are upon expiration (12 months after being issued). It’s important to renew the plumbing bond before the deadline because lapsed bond coverage will invalidate a plumbing license and make it illegal to work any longer. During renewal, the surety will reevaluate credit standing and calculate a new bond premium based on any changes. Premiums could go up or down annually. One way to manage surety bond costs long term is by steadily improving credit to lower premiums.

How to Obtain a Washington Plumbing Bond

Since it’s illegal to work as a plumber without a license and impossible to get a license without a bond, your first priority should be getting that bond. First, you need to find a reputable surety agency to work with. Then, you will need to apply for a bond, which typically involves these steps:

  • Complete a standard surety bond application. It will ask for details about your background, finances, and plumbing business.
  • Submit to a credit check (this won’t affect credit scores).
  • Supply a copy of the Washington plumbing bond requirements.
  • Provide any other paperwork the surety requests. 

The surety will then quote you a price for the bond premium. Bond coverage takes effect after that premium has been paid. Finally, the surety will supply a document proving you have met the bond requirements to get a Washington plumbing license.

Why Choose Viking Bond Service?

Since Washington plumbing bonds are so important for a business, you want to have a true surety bond partner on your side. Viking Bond Service helps people in all 50 states get bonds fast at a fair price. We offer everything you need to satisfy plumbing regulations in WA, along with all the service and support you could want along the way. We are a partner to plumbers across the country. Let us earn your trust and loyalty as well. 

Request a Quote Today

How much would a Washington plumbing bond cost you? Find out by requesting a quote at your convenience – you can expect a response in 24 hours. To learn more information about Washington plumbing bonds, call us at 1-888-278-7389 to speak directly with a bond expert or send us your questions on our contact page

Contractor Bonds vs. Contractor’s License

Before you can start a career as a contractor you will need tools, a vehicle, and a way to connect with new customers. But you may also need to get authorization from the state where you live.

To become a licensed and bonded contractor, contractors must jump through a surprising number of hoops to get their business fully compliant with all the rules. Understanding exactly what you need to do can be confusing, but it’s essential to get things right because your business depends on it. If you don’t check all the boxes that the state requires, it’s illegal for you to work as a contractor, and there are strict penalties when you get caught. 

Aptly named, the two most common requirements in this process are to get a contractor bond and a contractor license. These are two different things, but they are also related, and they serve an overlapping purpose – it’s no wonder people are confused. Just don’t let that confusion keep you from pursuing your career as a licensed and bonded contractor. We will explain everything in the following article.

What is a Licensed and Bonded Contractor

There are two ways to answer that question. In the eyes of the state, a licensed and bonded contractor is someone who meets all the core requirements to work legally. They have both a contractor bond and a contractor license, granting them the right to offer professional services to whoever will hire them. 

In the eyes of potential clients, a licensed and bonded contractor is the only kind of contractor worth hiring. These individuals have been approved by the state or local city/county government because they have a license. They also agree to take responsibility for their mistakes because they have a bond (we will get into these distinctions more later).

Moreover, a licensed and bonded contractor appears more trustworthy, credible, and accountable compared to anyone who is not licensed and bonded. That’s why contractors who operate according to all the relevant rules have more successful and sustainable businesses. 

What is a Contractor’s License?

In simple terms, a contractor’s license authorizes someone to work as a legal contractor within a specific state. Every state (and some counties/cities) creates its own rules and regulations governing the behavior of contractors.

License requirements are useful in several ways. First, they define standards that all contractors must meet before going into business, which keeps anyone who can’t meet those standards out of the industry. By being able to earn a license, all licensed contractors meet minimum standards for solvency, transparency, and accountability. 

Secondly, license requirements give the state a mechanism to remove problematic contractors from the industry. If a contractor cheats customers, cuts corners, or puts public trust and human lives at risk, the state can revoke their license, then issue harsher penalties if they continue working. 

Are There Different Types of Contractor’s Licenses?

Licensing requirements vary widely between states. In some cases, the type of license you need depends on the trade you practice, such as plumbing, electrical work, or general contracting. In other cases, the scale of the business determines licensing requirements. For instance, contractors that work on major building projects often need a different license than contractors who complete home improvement projects. 

Since it’s imperative to meet all necessary licensing requirements, you need to know exactly what they are. Contacting the state agency that regulates your contractor type will always be the most accurate source of current information, but you can also talk to other contractors, recruiters, or professional organizations. 

All states have individual requirements to obtain a license, some more difficult than others. Here are some common examples:

  • Be at least 18 or 21 years of age (depending on state).
  • Fill out a contractor’s license application, along with other required forms.
  • Have a specified amount of verifiable experience and references.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Obtain a contractor bond.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Have the necessary insurance coverage.
  • Pass various tests about business requirements, worker safety, or building codes.

What is a Contractor Bond?

A contractor bond is a type of surety bond that holds a contractor financially liable for misconduct that causes damages to clients or the public at large. There are three parties involved:

  • Principal The contractor who gets the surety bond and becomes responsible for paying all valid claims filed against it. 
  • Obligee –The person or company that hires the principal for contracting work. If damages occur, the obligee may file a claim against the surety bond seeking equivalent compensation.
  • Surety The company that backs the contractor bond. If the principal can’t or won’t pay for a claim, the surety guarantees payment to the obligee. The principal must then pay the surety back the full payment amount plus interest and fees. 

A contractor bond creates a financial incentive for contractors to follow all state rules and regulations because they have to pay out of pocket when they don’t. This bond also helps anyone hurt by an unlawful contractor to resolve the situation by guaranteeing them a paid settlement equivalent to the damages. 

How to Get a Contractor Bond

Obtaining a bond is often the first step for how to become a licensed and bonded contractor. Here’s what to do:

  • Find a surety agency that issues contractor bonds (also called contractor license bonds) in your state.
  • Complete a bond application.
  • Submit to a credit check.
  • Provide a copy of the bond requirements.
  • Supply any documents or paperwork.

The surety agency will use this information to quote a price for the bond premium – usually a small percentage of the bond size that can be higher or lower depending on credit. After paying the premium to activate the bond, the surety supplies documents proving you have met the contractor bond requirement. 

What’s the Difference Between Licensed and Bonded?

By now you know about contractor bonds and contractor’s licenses. What’s the difference? Primarily the fact that obtaining a bond is a requirement to get a license. You must prove you have a contractor bond before you can get a contractor’s license. And if your bond coverage lapses for any reason, your license becomes invalid as well (state rules vary).

Bonds are a near-universal license requirement because they signal that a contractor is willing to be held accountable when they break the law. Even though a license and a bond are different things, they work in close conjunction. By that, we mean that a contractor wouldn’t need to get a bond if they didn’t also need a license. In addition, if they couldn’t get a bond, they couldn’t get a license either. This explains why you only hear about licensed and bonded contractors and not one or the other.

Viking Bond Service For Contractor Bonds Nationwide

If you’re looking to become a licensed and bonded contractor, get a quote in less than 24 hours from Viking Bond Service. We are also happy to answer any questions you have – call us at 1-888-2-SURETY (1-888-278-7389) or contact us anytime. 

How to Qualify for a Contractor License Bond

More than 7 million people work in America’s construction industry. Many will need a contractor license in the state where they live before they can legally conduct business there. In almost all cases, obtaining a contractor license will mean obtaining a surety bond first. Known as a contractor license bond, this is one of the most common (and most misunderstood) hurdles someone must clear before they become a contractor

The bond experts at Viking Bond Service have created this guide to show you exactly how to get a contractor license bond. We will start by answering some frequently asked questions about this type of surety bond, and then we will cover how to qualify for one. 

What is a Contractor License Bond?

Surety bonds hold the bond holder accountable for anything considered misconduct in the bond agreement. In the case of contractor license bonds, if a contractor does not follow applicable state laws, the surety bond holds them liable for any damages that result. It helps to understand the three parties involved in a contractor bond agreement:

  • Principal – The contractor who must get the bond and pay for any claims filed against it. 
  • Obligee – The state agency that regulates contractors. If the principal does something unlawful or unethical, the obligee may file a claim seeking compensation. 

Surety – The agency that issues a bond to the principal. If the principal can’t or won’t pay for a claim, the surety will pay a guaranteed settlement. Afterwards, however, the principal must repay the settlement amount to the surety with interest and fees added.

Who Needs a Contractor License Bond?

As a general rule of thumb, anyone who needs a contractor license also needs a contractor license bond. Every state writes different rules for which contractors need bonds and what the license process involves. That being said, most contractors who plan to pursue full-time employment will need a license as well as a surety bond. 

Before the state will grant a license, the principal will need to show proof they have a contractor license bond from a reputable surety agency that meets all state requirements. They will also need to keep that bond active and in good standing for the license to remain valid.  

At Viking Bond Service, we can help you meet your bond requirement in any state. We provide bonding service via all major surety companies in the U.S. Start your application today.

Why is a License Required for Contractors?

License requirements give state regulators a way to sanction contractors for bad behavior and remove them from the industry when necessary. If someone needs a license to operate a business legally and needs to follow various laws to keep that license, then misconduct that hurts the public could render their license invalid and their business illegal. This disincentive motivates contractors to refrain from misconduct in favor of following any and all applicable rules. 

Surety bonds serve a similar function. Since bonds make someone accountable for any damages they cause, the principal has a powerful financial incentive to avoid doing anything that could lead to a claim. 

How Much Does a Contractor License Bond Cost?

The cost of a surety bond depends on two factors:

  • The size of the bond – States decide how large the contractor license bond must be, which designates the total amount the surety agrees to pay in claims settlements. Totals vary widely between states, but bond costs are usually a small percentage of the bond size.
  • The applicant’s credit – Underwriters at the surety agency will examine credit scores and financial histories to decide whether a bond seeker poses a risk for unpaid claims. People with a lower credit standings are considered higher risk and pay higher bond costs as a result. 

Do I Need to Renew a Contractor License Bond?

As long as a contractor needs a license he/she needs a surety bond. Contractor license bonds typically expire after 12 months. They must be renewed to keep the coverage active in accordance with the license requirements. 

Renewing a surety bond involves a credit check and close look at the business. Underwriters at the surety want to evaluate any changes to the contractor’s credit standing since the last renewal, then adjust the bond cost accordingly. That means costs could go up (if credit declines) or go down (if credit improves) with each renewal. 

How Do I Qualify for a Contractor License Bond?

Keep in mind that every surety agency has individual standards for who qualifies and who doesn’t. Some are more risk averse than others. That process starts with an application process involving:

  • A credit check.
  • An application document that requires information about someone’s background, finances, and business interests. 
  • A copy of the contractor license bond requirements.
  • A financial statement (not always required).
  • Any other documents the surety asks for.

With all this information in hand, the surety will determine whether the applicant qualifies for a contractor license bond. Then, the applicant will receive a quote for the bond cost, also known as the premium. After paying to activate the bond for 12 months, the contractor receives a document they can provide the licensing agency proving the contractor license bond requirement has been met. 

What If I Don’t Qualify for a Contractor License Bond?

Anyone who has been told by a surety agency that they don’t qualify should not despair. As we said earlier, different agencies have different standards. There are agencies that see an applicant with a credit score below 700 or a blemish on their financial record (e.g. bankruptcy) and automatically reject them. But there are other agencies that take the opposite approach and do everything possible to get people approved.
Viking Bond Service follows the second philosophy. We even offer a bad credit surety bond program to help more people get approved at fair rates. We cannot guarantee that anyone will qualify for a bond. However, we will use all of our resources and connections to explore every bonding option available.

Viking Bond Service – For Contractor License Bonds Nationwide

We serve contractors in all 50 states. Find out if you qualify for a bond by requesting a quote, and expect a response in under 24 hours. You could satisfy your bond requirement in just a day or two! If you have questions or need more information before you purchase for a bond, call us at 1-888-278-7389 or contact us whenever it’s convenient.

How to Become a Mortgage Broker in 6 Steps

If you’re curious how to become a mortgage broker, a good place to start is by defining what they do and the state of the mortgage industry. Mortgage brokers ensure the mortgage lending process goes smoothly for all involved (individuals, businesses, and lenders) and serves the interests of both parties.

Estimates suggest that around 16% of all mortgages originate through a broker. Considering that tens of millions of mortgages originate each year, that’s quite a large number. Plus, reliance on mortgage brokers – rather than borrowers and lenders working together directly – has increased for 10 quarters in a row. 
For ambitious individuals, those growth figures suggest an in-demand occupation with unlimited earning potential. Mortgage brokers can also take pride in knowing they’re helping people find a place to live. If this sounds like an appealing career, now is an ideal time to join the industry and become a mortgage broker – but there are requirements you must complete first.

Follow the steps below to put your mortgage broker career on the fast track:

Step 1: Complete the Education Requirements

Every state regulates the mortgage industry, including brokers, according to its own standards, but the procedure for becoming a mortgage broker is handled by a national organization called the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) that standardizes the process. 

The NMLS requires all mortgage brokers to meet minimum education requirements. They must have at least a high-school diploma or GED. College degrees are helpful but not mandatory. Brokers must also complete a 20-hour mandatory training course before taking a licensing test.
The course covers several subjects:

  • Federal Law – 3 Hours
  • Ethics – 3 Hours
  • Non-Traditional Mortgage Lending – 2 Hours
  • Electives – 12 Hours

Various mortgage broker schools offer the courses outlined above. Brokers can also seek out additional training from the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, which offers certifications to become a Certified Residential Mortgage Specialist, Certified Mortgage Consultant, or Advanced Mortgage Consultant. Though not required, these certifications can help someone bolster their credentials upon starting a new career. 

Step 2: Pass the Required Test

Beginning with the passage of The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act in 2008 (SAFE Act for short), all mortgage brokers must pass a pre-licensing exam. Most will take the National Test with Uniform State Content, which applies to brokers in most states. In states that haven’t adopted this test as the only examination requirement, brokers will have to pass an additional State Component Test with questions specific to that state’s mortgage laws. Be prepared to pay a fee for the universal test (currently $110) and for the state test (currently $69). Both tests require a grade of 75% or higher to pass.

Step 3: Register Your Company & Business Name

Brokers must register as a business entity in the state where they plan to work before being granted a license to work there. During registration, a broker will need to select what type of company he or she intends to operate as:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company
  • Corporation

There are pros and cons to each of these options, as well as implications for all the business owners and the plan they intend to follow, making it important to choose wisely. Brokers will also need to choose a name for the business. Any business planning to hire employees should also get an Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, which involves a simple online form and no fee. 

Step 4: Obtain a Mortgage Broker Bond

Most states require mortgage brokers to obtain a mortgage broker surety bond as part of the licensure requirements. This type of surety bond holds a mortgage broker financially liable if they break state laws that result in damages to individual clients of the public at large. Should that happen, victims may file a claim for compensation against the surety bond, and they receive a guaranteed settlement provided the claim is true. The surety agency that backs the bond will pay this settlement, but the mortgage broker who caused the claim must pay that debt back or enter collections. For more details about how mortgage broker surety bonds work, contact Viking Bond Service.

To obtain one of these bonds, a broker will need to find a surety agency, submit an application, agree to a credit check, and turn over additional documentation as necessary. The surety will then quote a price for the bond premium. Prices depend on how large a bond mortgage brokers need, which varies by state. Texas, for instance, requires a $50,000 bond while California requires a $20,000 bond. Prices also depend on the applicant’s credit standing. Expect to pay a small percentage of the total bond value.  

Step 5: Submit a License Application

Individual states have different licensing requirements to become a mortgage broker, but if the previous five steps are complete at this point, the hard work is already done. Other common requirements to complete the license process may include: 

  • Providing financial statements
  • Fingerprinting and undergoing a background check
  • Credit check

Some states will also require brokers to secure a physical business location before getting licensed, but most states allow brokers to operate entirely online. As for cost, licensing fees range from $1,000 to $2,000 annually. 

Step 6: Keep Your License Valid

A mortgage broker caught operating without a license faces strict penalties, including permanent loss of license, rendering a career in the mortgage industry over. With so much at stake, it’s vital to keep a license active and in good standing without exception. That involves two key components:

  • Mortgage Broker License Renewing the license annually and complying with any and all mandates from the state agency that regulates mortgage brokers
  • Mortgage Broker Bond Renewing the surety bond annually and doing everything possible to avoid claims. Brokers should also pay for any claims immediately instead of relying on the surety agency to settle. Why? Because a surety required to settle claims may then cancel a surety bond agreement, this could lead to a lapse in bond coverage that invalidates a license. 

Viking Bond Service A Partner to Mortgage Brokers

Meeting the requirements to obtain a mortgage broker bond and become a mortgage broker are both common and important – but managing them can often be confusing and tedious. That’s where Viking Bond Service comes in. As a nationwide surety that can issue appropriate mortgage broker bonds in all 50 states, we can help anyone meet their bond requirements. More than that, we go above and beyond to offer fast and friendly service backed by exceptional support. 
How much would your mortgage broker bond cost? Request a no-cost, no-obligation quote to explore the answer, and expect to get a number back in under 24 hours! Do you have more questions about how to become a mortgage broker or surety bonds more generally? Call us to answer your questions at 1-888-278-7389 or contact us at your convenience.

How to Become a Freight Broker in 6 Steps

The freight industry is the backbone of America’s economy. Without the ability to ship goods from one point to another – safely, quickly, and consistently – everything else would fall apart. Freight brokers (also known as truck brokers) connect people who want to ship goods with people who transport goods. They’re an essential intermediary.

Their services are also in high demand: The American Trucking Association estimates that freight volumes will grow by 36% by the early 2030s. Successful freight brokers can expect rising demand for their services and generous compensation as well, making this an attractive employment option. If you’re considering getting a freight broker license and bond, follow the steps outlined below to kickstart your career.

Step 1: Understand the Freight Broker Bond

Before embarking on a career as a truck broker, you must know what’s involved. Do extensive research into the daily responsibilities, speak to a working (or retired) professional if possible, and consider the long-term prospects.

You should also familiarize yourself with some of the requirements you will encounter in later steps. Specifically, you need to understand how broker bonds and freight broker licenses work before applying for one and committing to a surety bond agreement.

Here’s the basic rundown of how freight broker bonds work:

  • Unlike insurance, which protects a policyholder, this and all other types of surety bonds hold one party accountable for damages caused to another party. 
  • If a freight broker fails to follow applicable rules and regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may file a claim against the bond seeking damages equivalent to the harm caused by the carrier. 
  • The surety agency that backs the freight broker bond guarantees a settlement payment for all valid claims, after which they will collect that same amount from the freight broker who has the financial liability under a bond agreement. 
  • The bonds create a powerful disincentive to break the law, which is why the FMCSA requires a freight broker to have one before granting them a license to operate legally.

Step 2: Set Up Your Business Structure 

Every business owner, freight broker or otherwise, needs to decide how they will structure their business at the outset. Different structures have different pros and cons. It can be very helpful to consult with a lawyer or accountant at this phase to ensure the structure aligns with the long-term business goals.

The three most common business structures are:

  • A sole proprietorship.
  • A partnership.
  • A corporation.

Eager as you might be to get down to business, don’t rush through this step. Take the time and use whatever resources are necessary to structure the business advantageously. 

Step 3: File an OP-1 Form

Before proceeding with the freight broker license application process, you will need to submit an OP-1 form. This is an application form for a motor carrier number that is submitted to the FMCSA. This number is required and will distinguish you from other carriers.

You can submit the form online and receive the number immediately or mail in the form and wait (usually 4-6 weeks) to get a number. The form requires basic information about your business and background, along with an application fee ($300 at the time of writing). 

Step 4: Obtain a Freight Broker Bond

A freight broker bond must be issued by a qualified surety in the amount required by the FMCSA. Currently, freight brokers need a $75,000 surety bond, meaning the surety that backs the bond agrees to settle claims up to but not exceeding that amount. 

There are many surety agencies able to write these bonds, but the cost and service quality can vary widely, so it’s important to find a quality agency upfront – one like Viking Bond Service.

You will need to apply for the surety bond by:

  • Submitting a completed application.
  • Agreeing to a credit check.
  • Supplying any other documentation the surety requests.

After reviewing your documents and estimating your risk (e.g. how likely you are to cause claims), the surety will quote you the cost of the surety bond. Expect it to be a small percentage of the bond total – less or more depending on your credit.

Bad credit – a low credit score or a spotty financial history – makes it harder to get a bond. Fortunately, Viking Bond Service created a unique bad credit surety bond program designed to help more people get the surety bonds they need at a fair price. 

Step 5: Pick a Process Agent

A process agent is someone who receives court documents on behalf of the freight broker. Under law, freight brokers must have a process agent in every state where they have an office or write contracts.

Some freight brokers have different agents in each state, while others rely on service providers that can supply nationwide coverage. Either way, you must pick the agent(s) and designate who they are on Form BOC-3 before submitting it to the FMCSA. 

Step 6: Register the Business and Obtain Your Freight Broker License

For the final step, every freight broker must register with the Unified Carrier Registration: A national database of registration and financial liability information. The FMCSA will not issue a freight broker license until a broker can demonstrate registration. Once registered, you may finally achieve your goal of becoming a freight broker.

Viking Bond Service – Serving Freight Brokers Everywhere

Now that you know how to get a freight broker license and freight broker bond, you also understand that they can be harder to obtain than other types of surety bonds. It can be confusing to make sense of everything the agreement entails. That’s why freight brokers across the country choose Viking Bond Service as their long-term bonding partner.

We make things easy from beginning to end and offer competitive rates to all applicants. To get the process started, complete our online application at your convenience. You can also get more information from our team before applying. Call us at 1-888-278-7389 or contact us in writing. 

How to Get a Bonded Title in Texas: 6 Simple Steps

If you intend to sell a vehicle in the state of Texas without a title, you need to obtain what’s known as a title bond or lost title bond. Without one, the sale can’t proceed until you provide proof of having one of these surety bonds.

Therefore, it’s important to understand how the Texas bonded title process works and what it means for you. The experts at Viking Bond Service are here to make the process easy. Simply follow the six steps below detailing how to get a bonded title in Texas. 

Step 1: Understand the Title Bond

Before entering into a title bond agreement, you should understand exactly how these agreements work. There are three parties involved: the principal (the title applicant), the obligee (the DMV), and the surety (the bonding agency).

A bonded title in Texas allows the DMV to confirm who is the valid owner of a vehicle. If you get a bonded title before selling the vehicle and later the original title reappears with another owner, it could call into question whether you were the rightful owner and seller of the vehicle. 

In that case, the obligee may file a claim against the bond seeking damages equal to the value of the vehicle. Provided that the claim holds up under an investigation into who actually owns the vehicle, the surety will pay out damages to the obligee immediately. 

Afterward, the bond titleholder must repay the settlement costs (plus interest and fees) to the surety agency. The bondholder always has the financial obligation for claims. Texas and all other states require title bonds to discourage people from seeking fraudulent titles by holding them accountable for any and all damages that result from their illegal actions. 

Step 2: Contact the DMV

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) regulates and oversees all vehicle sales in the Lonestar State. If your vehicle does not have a title and you plan to sell or transfer ownership to someone else, you will need to ask the DMV to issue a new title first.

If the DMV determines that you are the rightful owner of the vehicle and issues a replacement title, you will not need to obtain a bonded title in Texas. However, if the DMV cannot definitively establish ownership, you may be required to get a bonded title. If that’s the case, you will need to show proof of having the bond before the DMV issues the title.

Step 3: Complete the Documents

The next step to get a bonded title in Texas is to submit the documents for your application. That process involves gathering paperwork, paying a $15 filing fee, and providing proof of vehicle ownership.

Paperwork includes:

  • A copy of a photo ID.
  • A document known as a Statement of Fact for Bonded Title.
  • Proof that you are the rightful owner of the vehicle. 

Proof of rightful ownership can include:

  • A bill of sale for the vehicle.
  • An invoice for the vehicle cost.
  • A copy of a check used to purchase the vehicle. 

Lastly, if the vehicle was registered in another state, you will need to also take it to a registered Texas Vehicle Inspection Station for them to confirm the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). 

Step 4: Receive Approval

The Texas DMV will review the application documents from the previous step. How long this takes can vary. The DMV also has the right to deny your application for a bonded title. FOr example, vehicles with liens on them often get rejected for bonded titles because of the high likelihood that ownership disputes will result in bond claims. 

Step 5: Procure a Title Bond in Texas

Once approved by the Texas DMV for a bonded title, the next step is to acquire the required bond.

To procure a title bond, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Find a surety agency that issues title bonds in Texas.
  • Apply for the bond. (In most cases, the application process involves a credit check and a standard bond application. )
  • Wait for underwriters at the surety agency to evaluate the application materials and quote a bond price. 
  • Pay for the title bond.

When it comes to how much a Texas title bond costs, the DMV will determine how large the bond must be in terms of dollars. This amount represents the maximum total the surety agrees to pay in settlements and typically reflects the value of the vehicle. 

To answer the question how much is a bonded title in Texas, the cost is a small percentage of the bond’s total value. Exact amounts depend on the applicant’s credit, financial record, and bonding history (where applicable).

If you have bad credit, you can expect to pay more. However, with the right surety agency, you won’t necessarily be denied a bond. To keep the application process quick, easy, affordable, and accessible to all, work with a leading surety agency like Viking Bond Service

Step 6: Apply for a Bonded Title

Once you have paid for the Texas title bond, you will receive a document proving you’ve met the DMV’s bond requirement. You will need to supply that document along with several others to the county tax office, which handles title-related issues. By this step in the process, you likely have most of the necessary documents on hand.

Applications for bonded titles must be received within 30 days of you obtaining the title bond. Once the DMV issues a bonded title, it remains in effect for three years, after which the DMV issues a traditional title for the same vehicle. 

And with that, you now know how to get a bonded title in Texas. 

Viking Bond Service – Serving All of Texas

The steps to get a bonded title in Texas can seem like a hassle, especially if you’re eager to get rid of a vehicle. Count on Viking Bond Service to make things simple and seamless. You can complete our online application at any time and expect to receive a bond quote in as little as 24 hours. You can also contact us or call 1-888-278-7389 to have all your questions answered.

When Should a General Contractor Require Subcontractor Surety Bonds?

Subcontractors are a critical tool for general contractors. When a general contractor doesn’t have the time, people, or skills to complete a component of a project, they hire a subcontractor to do it for them. Enlisting subcontractors makes it easier to complete projects on time, on budget, and up to quality standards. 

However, there’s also a risk in relying on someone else to do the job, which is why subcontractor surety bonds are used to guard against that risk. So when should general contractors require subcontractor bonds? That’s what we’ll cover in this blog.

What is a Subcontractor Surety Bond?

General contractors need to obtain a number of different types of surety bonds before finalizing most construction contracts. Those bonds hold the general contractor financially liable if he doesn’t meet the standards for speed, cost, quality, or conduct. Subcontractor bonds (also called subcontractor performance bonds) work much the same way. If a subcontractor fails to perform as expected, the subcontractor surety bond holds them financially liable for damages caused to the general contractor. 

Why are Subcontractor Surety Bonds Required? 

General contractors use these surety bonds as protection against risk. Specifically, the risk that a subcontractor causes financial damages by, for example, going over budget or missing deadlines. Surety bond agreements hold the bonded principal (in this case the subcontractor) financially liable, which creates a strong incentive to meet the performance standards required by the general contractor.

And since the surety agency that backs the bond guarantees payment for valid claims against the bond, the general contractor knows he has a way to seek and receive compensation for damages. Surety bonds create trust between two parties – a general contractor and subcontractor – by making one accountable to the other. 

When are Subcontractor Surety Bonds Required?

The general contractor decides when they’re required, how large they must be, and what performance standards they hold a subcontractor accountable for. However, subcontractor surety bonds aren’t always necessary. Some general contractors waive the bond requirement on small, quick, or minor jobs. When they are required, it’s important to seek out a subcontractor surety bond ASAP. Work can’t move forward without one. Partner with Viking Bond Service to fulfill surety bond requirements fast and hassle-free. 

What’s the Difference Between a Performance and Payment Bond

A subcontractor performance bond isn’t the same as a subcontractor payment bond, which is another common kind of construction bond. The differences between the two are as follows:

  • Performance bonds hold the principal (the bonded subcontractor) liable for damages caused to the obligee (the general contractor) by performance issues. 
  • A payment bond holds the subcontractor liable for payments they owe to their own subcontractors and suppliers. Many subcontractors need both bonds. 

When Should General Contractors Require a Subcontract Surety Bond?

Subcontractor bond requirements guard against a common kind of risk. But they also make it harder to hire a subcontractor. Here are some instances when it’s smart to make subcontractors get surety bonds:

  • When state and local laws require bonds.
  • When working on a public project for a federal, state, or local government.
  • When a subcontractor plays a critical role in completing a project.
  • When a subcontractor offers specialized expertise that isn’t replaceable.
  • When a subcontractor poses a large liability.
  • When a subcontractor is new or unknown.
  • When a general contractor wants to expand and manage risk along the way.

How to Obtain a Subcontractor Surety Bond?

Anyone required to get a surety bond will need to:

  • Find a surety agency.
  • Complete a bond application.
  • Agree to a credit check.
  • Supply the bond requirements.
  • Provide additional info (as necessary).

Underwriters will quote the bond cost based on the size of the bond and the applicant’s credit. It will be a small percentage of the bond total – more or less depending on the risk posed by the subcontractor. For those with credit concerns, Viking Bond Service has created a special program to help more people acquire bonds even with a low credit score or spotty financial history. 

Viking Bond Service Complete Source for Subcontractor Surety Bonds

For subcontractors, getting surety bonds is just part of doing as because most construction jobs include bond requirements. And that means they need a surety bond partner to rely on to make bonding easy, budget-friendly, and fast – the first time and every time after.

That’s why subcontractors choose Viking Bond Service. We offer the bonds that subcontractors need (most types and sizes) and deliver the service everyone hopes for. Don’t let bond requirements be a bigger burden than they need to. Work with Viking Bond Service instead!
Contact us or call 1-888-278-7389 for more information or request a bond quote online to receive a price within 24 hours.