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This section primarily covers the Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP) license requirements which is required in many counties to perform work on a project where the cost is less than $25,000. The LLP license is issued to the individual passing the LLP trade exam. Before applying for an LLP license, check with the local code enforcement to make sure this license is accepted for obtaining permits for inspections. An LLP cannot advertise as a "contractor" without having a contractor's license.
Plumbing is regulated at various levels in Tennessee (state and local government). The need for a state LLP license is based upon the following:
A state Contractor license with a plumbing (CMC or CMC-A) classification is required to perform projects $25,000 or more and they would not be required to obtain a separate state license as a LLP. However, they must obtain whatever local licenses are required by local government or the code enforcement, for permits and inspections. The LLP exam is not reciprocal with other states license exams. The Division of Fire Prevention adopts codes and their law covers residential inspections for LLP's for some local governments without code enforcement agencies.
Before applying for a state LLP license, see the following descriptions of a state contractor's license and local government license information:
1. Contractor - Plumbing License (CMC-A or CMC Classification)
This state contractor's license is issued to an entity (sole proprietor, corporation, partnership, LLC) in order for their business to perform plumbing work as a prime (general) or subcontractor, when the total cost is $25,000 or more. A contractor's license with the "CMC-A" or "CMC" plumbing/mechanical classification is accepted statewide; additional exams are not required in each county or municipality. However, you must adhere to their local permit, licensing rules and inspections within their jurisdiction, including paying local fees. In addition to the classification on the plumbing contractor's license, a monetary limit is also designated. Contracts/projects cannot be split into phases to circumvent the law.
Contractors with a CMC or CMC-A classification are exempt from the Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP) license, but still required to obtain local license, permits and inspections. Click onto "Contractor" for licensing steps and information. To take the plumbing contractor's exam, the law requires pre-approval by the Contractor's Board and this form is available from both the exam and contractor's license application. See reciprocation information for a list of states accepting this trade exam with Tennessee.
2. Local License/Permit (City/County from each Municipality)
Many local governments have their own codes enforcement requirements and may not accept the LLP license. Always check first with local government before obtaing a state LLP license since it is only accepted in limited cities and counties. A local permit is required regardless of the amount of the project in order to obtain inspections. If you have a state contractors CMC or CMC-A license, you will not be required to take their local plumbing exam, but will need to pay their fees for permits and inspections. Click onto local government for their contact information.
You may also need to obtain a local "Business" tax license in each city or county where you plan to do business and/or a federal employee ID number. Check with the State's Department of Revenue for local business tax license guidelines.
3. Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP)
This state LLP license is issued to an individual in order for them to offer and perform small plumbing projects for an owner or contractor, as long as the total plumbing project, including materials and labor, is less than $25,000. A person with an LLP license would not be able to act as a contractor or to split the total project into phases to keep a contract less than $25,000. The LLP is acceptable only by local government in cities or counties utilizing as a means to issue permits for inspections. Also, there are 15 exempt counties which are not regulated by this law (Benton, Decatur, Dickson, Giles, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Humphreys, Lake, Lawrence, Lewis, Obion, Perry, Stewart and Weakley). Therefore, you should always check with local government before obtaining this license in case they do not accept. You would have the option of obtaining their local license or a state contractor's license.
The LLP license differs from that of a plumbing contractor in which this license is issued to an individual, instead of a firm (sole proprietor, corporation, LLC or partnership). The LLP exam has less questions, and requires passing a 40 question exam; exam pre-approval is not required for the LLP. In addition, a financial statement or proof of insurance is not part of the state licensing requirements for the LLP, as it is for a contractor. Workers' compensation insurance coverage may be required by law or the LLP may apply for an exemption by registering as a Construction Services Provider with the Secretary of State. An LLP with employees may not require their workers to register for an exemption and would need to provide coverage. A person or contractor having a Tennessee state contractor’s license with a CMC or CMC-A classification, is exempt from obtaining an additional license as a the LLP; but not exempt from local license or inspections.
Plumbing inspections for LLP's are in line with Residential Building codes Enforcement by the Division of Fire Prevention performing these inspections at cities and counties the same jurisdictions similar to the Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE) license. The LLP license requirement became effective on January 1, 2006.
Note: A limited licensed plumber (LLP) may NOT use the appellation term "contractor" unless they hold a contractor's license with a CMC or CMC-A!
If your employer defines you as a independent contractor (subcontractor), however, you fall within the defintion of "employee", you may report this violation to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development at the Tennessee Employee Misclassification or at: http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/EMEEF/misclass_main.shtml
See the employee defitnitions and characteristics in the Handbook for Employers
Confirm the LLP License is Acceptable
To make sure of the type of license needed for projects less than $25,000, you must check with the local government where you plan to work for their local licensing, permit and inspection requirements. Some may require you to take their plumbing exam, unless you have a CMC or CMC-A Contractor's license. The LLP is not accepted where the local jurisdiction has their own licensing and inspections already in place or in one of the 15 exempt counties . For example, the LLP would not be accepted in Nashville (Davidson County - Metro Codes Office). (See more exemptions listed below.)
LLP - Plumbing Law Defined
Plumbing work is defined as the construction, alteration, repair, improvement, movement, demolition, putting up, tearing down, or furnishing labor to install material or equipment within any residential or commercial building of all piping, fixtures, and *appliances for the supply of gas, water, liquids or disposal of waster water or sewage; provided, that there is no intent to require licensure under this part for plumbing work performed outside a residential or commercial building, including but not limited to utility connections or irrigation systems. See the Laws, Rules and Regulations for further information and exemptions, such as installation and repair of applicances less than $500.00.
For questions concerning obtaining a LLP license, you may call the staff at: (615) 741-8307 or by email at: Contractors.Home-Improvement@tn.gov
Exemptions to the LLP Law
The following are exemption from the LLP law:
LIMITED LICENSED PLUMBER (LLP) - LICENSE PROCESS
In order to obtain a LLP license, complete the LLP application and sign before a notary. Attach proof of one (1) year plumbing experience, or proof of a local license (wallet card, certificate or notarized verification from past client, employer or official with permit agency); and attach a copy of the LLP exam score. The law allows waiver of the 40 question plumbing exam with PSI, only if submitting proof of a prior local plumbing license in Tennessee or exam score from any county or municipality in Tennessee (there are no out of state exam waivers). The fee is $75.00 for a two (2) year license (fee is nonrefundable). An incomplete application and failure to submit attachments of required information will delay issuance of license. When mailing an LLP application, please allow 5 to 7 business days for application receipt. If hand delivering or sending by express mail, it takes the Cashier's office approximately 2 business days to forward the application to the Board's office. The Board cannot accept fees at their physical location and must be delivered at the mailing address listed on the application.
LLP applicants are approved by the Board's office staff, unless there are felony or complaints. Those with felony or complaints will require full Board approval at their regularly scheduled meetings (see Public Meetings Calendar for schedule). Those without proof of one (1) year experience cannot be issued.
LLP License Package
LLP License Application [pdf]
Checklist for Completing LLP Licensing Process
2. Complete LLP application, sign and have notarized
3. Provide proof of a minimum of one (1) year plumbing experience
4. Attach scores, proof of experience, completed LLP application with $75.00 fee (two year license), check payable to Contractor's Board - LLP, and mail to: Contractor's Board - LLP; 500 James Robertson Pkwy., Nashville, TN 37243-1150.
5. You may check status of issuance from the "License Search" of the website showing an active expiration date.
6. Always obtain a permit for inspections (check with local government for issuing agents; Tennessee Division of Fire Prevention provides inspections for LLP licensees in counties without a code inspector).
Felony Conviction/ Judgements / Complaints / Disclosure
Felony convictions do not automatically preclude someone from licensing, however, it does require the Board's approval. If you have been convicted of a felony in any jurisdiction (Tennessee or any state), you must attach a statement explaining the details of the conviction, charging document, the disposition and proof of any sentence or court order and release of probation. In addition, the Board requires the applicant to submit a criminal background check (such as from the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) showing criminal history and timeline. Before a license is granted to anyone with a conviction, they may be required to appear before the Board and they meet at least six (6) times annually. Failure to supply all the documentation relative to a conviction will cause a delay in getting the application reviewed.
If you have court judgements, complaints with the Board or if you have had disciplinary action against another professional license (in any state), you are required to disclose. Failure to disclose may result into a complaint reported, where the Board has been notified from a consumer of false information supplied resulting in misrepresentation for the purposes of obtaining a license.
The Board is charged with protecting the safety and welfare of the public and they will judge each individual case on it's own merit (type of offense and relation to industry; clean criminal history timeline since conviction, character references, etc.). The law requires disclosure of felonies, as well as any court litigation and judgements. A license is not automatically denied due to judgements and convictions, however, failure to disclose is a violation of law and a civil penalty may be assessed for not providing true and correct information, such as the license denied or revoked.
Review the LLP License Law, Rules and Regulation
It is very important to ensure you are knowledgeable with the license laws, rules and regulations. These may be reviewed from our website at the "Laws, Rules and Regulations".
Failing to be familiar with the law could cause violations affecting your license. For example, Limited Licensed Plumbers (LLP) licensees cannot use the term or advertise as a "Contractor". Never allow another individual to use your license (considered aiding in unlicensed activity). If you perform work in an area regulated by another state agency (such as the Fire Sprinkler section with the Division of Fire Prevention), be sure to obtain their required licenses. In addition, a LLP licensee cannot perform work where the total plumbing on a project or contract is $25,000 or more; contracts cannot be split into phases to circumvent the contractor licensing law. If you want to be licensed to perform projects $25,000 or more, you'll need to obtain a "Contractor's" license with a CMC-A plumbing classification. Also, be sure to notify the Board's office of any change in mailing address. When using a P.O. Box for mail, you must also supply a physical address.
Always check with the local municipality for permits and inspections, as well as, for their own plumber license requirements. In areas where there is not a codes office, the state will be implementing inspections by January 1, 2011.
The LLP renewal should be submitted 30 days prior to the expiration date to prevent working unlicensed. Renewal rights are 12 months after the LLP expires; more than 12 months requires reinstatement through the new application process. Online Renewal is now available!
OTHER - EMPLOYEE/INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR VIOLATIONS
If you are an employee who is being paid as a subcontractor or cash as a means to avoid taxes, you may contact the Department of Labor and Workforce Development's "Employee Misclassification Advisory Task Force" by filing an online complaint at for an Investigation; or phone call to (615) 253-1613; or fax at (615) 253-5263; or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org Complaints may be submitted anonymously.
To verify workers' compensation insurance coverage, you may check online at:
Code - State Residential Building (Eff. October 1, 2010)
Inspections and Permits (See also "Local Government" below)
Note: Proof of Insurance is not required for licensing, however, it is required by law if you have one or more employees, as an employer!
Plumbing Association (NAPMA - Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors of Middle TN)
Plumbing Association (TPHCC - TN Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors)
Local Government (Note: Check with the Local Goverment before obtaining LLP!)
>>Knox County Code Enforcement (Knoxville)
>>Hamilton County Code Enforcement (Chattanooga)
>>Other Local Government Contact Information (Over 95 counties)
Renewal Form [pdf]
NEW! Online Renewal
Workers Compensation Insurance Information (See also "Insurance")
Note: A limited licensed plumber (LLP) may not use the appellation term "contractor" unless they hold a contractor's license!
Fire Protection /Sprinkler Systems
Those performing work on fire protection and fire sprinkler systems, must register with
the Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office, Permits and Licenses Unit. More information may be
obtained from their website or contact them at: (615) 741-1322.
Heating, Ventialation and Air Conditioning / Refrigeration where the project is less than $25,000, is not regulated by the Board and would need to check with local government. A contractor's license would be required with a CMC-C or CMC if the project is $25,000 or more.
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For information regarding small, minority or woman owned businesses, check with the Governor's Office of Diversity Enterprise!
Notice: The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is committed to principles of equal access and affirmation action. Contact the EEO or ADA Coordinator at (615) 741-6500.