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How to Obtain an RBQ Licence

How to Obtain an RBQ Licence

Advice for contractorHow to Obtain an RBQ Licence

Are you taking the leap and becoming a contractor? If so, there's no real need for us to mention that obtaining a valid licence issued by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec is a mandatory step to achieving said goal.

To help you in the process, here are the different steps to follow to eventually hold your very own, brand-new licence. 

Steps for Obtaining an RBQ Licence

construction equipment and gavel

Source: Canva

1. Determine your company’s legal structure

Before getting processes underway for obtaining your licence issued by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, you first have to select your company’s legal structure. 

There are three possibilities available to you, which are as follows:

  • Sole proprietorship

  • Business corporation

  • General partnership

Sole Proprietorship

This structure translates into a sole legal person having proprietorial rights over the company. As such, it doesn’t operate independently of its owner. Most commonly, one will say of a sole proprietor that they’re self-employed workers. Therefore, they're the sole person reaping from the company’s success as well as suffering potential financial losses. 

Business Corporation

A business corporation is a company structure in which several shareholders have ownership and share between them both the company’s financial gains and losses. Unlike a sole proprietorship, such a legal structure exists independently from its proprietors on a legal level and must comply with the Business Corporations Act. Therefore, the company in question can own goods and manage contract acquisitions by way of its administrators.

General Partnership

A general partnership (G.P.) groups “partners” that unite to manage the company and combine their ownerships with the sole purpose of having the required resources to do so. They're also sharing everyone’s expertise and knowledge. The partners will assume equal parts of the profits and debts stemming from the company’s financial endeavours. 

Note that this type of company structure has a headquarters and operates independently from legal persons owning the company, enabling it to act on its behalf. 

2. Register your company

The need for registering your company depends on its legal structure. If you’re a sole proprietor operating under your full legal name, you don’t need to register your company. However, if you have opted for either of the two other legal structures, you will have to register your company with the Registraire des entreprises du Québec (REQ). By doing so, you will be granted a Quebec Enterprise Number (NEQ). 

3. Determine your contractor licence class

Now come this step, you will have to determine whether you’re a contractor (general or specialized) or an owner-builder (general or specialized). Here’s a brief overview of all classes and subclasses, such as detailed on the RBQ website, to help guide you along the process:

  • General contractor: All contractors who organize, coordinate, carry out, or hire out, entire or partial, construction projects under one of these 11 subclasses;

  • Specialized contractor: All contractors who mainly carry out or hire out construction work included in one of these 49 subclasses;

  • General owner-builder: All builders who mainly carry out or hire out, entire or partial, construction projects included in one of these 9 subclasses;

  • Specialized owner-builder: All owner-builders who mainly carry out or hire out construction projects included in one of these 36 subclasses.

4. Conduct a background check with lenders and hired executives

Note that regarding your hired executives’ and lenders’ legal backgrounds, the latter may weigh heavily on whether your licence request is granted or denied. As such, you will first need to provide a list of all the names of your executives, detailing whether they have been found guilty of an infraction in the five years preceding your licence request

As for the lenders, you will have to ask them to provide a declaration attesting to the name(s) of their executive(s) as well as a statement highlighting whether one of them was found guilty of a criminal act in the five years preceding your licence request.

5. Offer work guarantees

At this step, take the necessary amount of time to acquire the mandatory knowledge about warranties or work guarantees you plan on offering your clients. Three different scenarios will determine what you should offer to comply with the requirements detailed for obtaining your licence:

  • You’re recognized exclusively as a new residential building contractor covered by a Class 1 or 2 Guarantee Plan (1.1.1 and 1.1.2): A New residential buildings guarantee plan;

  • You’re included in one of the two subclasses previously mentioned as well as another subclass: A licence bond and the New residential buildings guarantee plan;

  • You’re included in a subclass other than 1.1.1 or 1.1.2: Licence bond.

What is your licence bond valued at?

If you’re a specialized contractor, your bond will amount to $20,000, whereas if you’re a general contractor, it will be valued at $40,000. To learn more about the appropriate steps for obtaining a licence bond, note the information provided here.

As for the necessary steps for joining the Guarantee Plan and obtaining a certificate, consult the Garantie Construction Résidentielle (GCR) website. 

RBQ Exams

on-site contractors

Source: Canva

Who is required to take RBQ exams?

If your company’s legal structure is that of a sole proprietorship, you will be mandated to take the examinations. If your situation falls under another category (business corporation or general partnership), the company executive(s) will have to turn up.

One way or another, the person required to take the exams will have to be ready to carry out said evaluations the moment the licence request deposit is submitted. If the RBQ concludes that the file submitted alongside the request is complete, the organization will contact the concerned person(s) to notify them of the date and time of their examinations. 

Which exams must be completed to obtain an RBQ licence?

Once again, these requirements will be contingent on the type of licence you’re hoping to obtain. Regarding that, here’s an overview of the exams you will have to take based on licence classes and subclasses:

Licence Class

Required Exams

General or Specialized Contractor

Administration; Project and worksite management; Construction worksite safety management; Construction project execution in requested subclasses (there’s a separate examination for each subclass)

General Owner-Builder

Project and worksite management; Construction worksite safety management; Construction project execution in requested subclasses (there’s a separate examination for each subclass)

Specialized Owner-Builder

Construction worksite safety management; Construction project execution in requested subclasses (there’s a separate examination for each subclass)

As for civil engineering work, the concerned individuals will have to pass the following two examinations:

  • Project and worksite management

  • Specific safety management

It concerns contractors operating in the following fields:

  • Roads and pipelines 

  • Structures of civil engineering works

  • Underwater civil engineering structures

  • Telecommunications 

  • Transport 

  • Transformation and distribution of electrical energy (sub-categories 1.4 to 1.7)

How to Prepare for Examinations

To prepare adequately for examinations mandated by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, you can turn to the Corporation des Entrepreneurs Spécialisés du Grand Montréal Inc. (CESGM). Said organization offers exam preparation training. Note that prep courses as well as seminars are also made available to assist you in your educational pursuit.

For more information, check out this article. (French only)

Instances of Exam Exemptions

If you have successfully completed one of the RBQ-recognized training programs, you may be exempt from taking the required exams for your licence class or subclass. You will have to provide proof that the relevant courses have been completed successfully along with your licence application.

Moreover, you may be able to obtain one or more course equivalencies if you have acquired knowledge by way of experience or by way of a program in one of the following trades:

  • Construction work

  • Administration

  • Worksite safety management

  • Worksite project management

To showcase the above-mentioned, put together a professional file.

Unique Circumstances

If you’re looking to obtain a licence to carry out electrical work, you have to obtain your licence via the Corporation des maîtres électriciens du Québec, whereas for plumbing; heating; oil or natural gas burners; you have to obtain your licence via the Corporation des maîtres mécaniciens en tuyauterie du Québec. 

How much does an RBQ licence cost?

Naturally, there are costs involved in obtaining your licence and taking the necessary examinations. Fees vary based on licence class or subclass. To learn more about it, check out the following:

Note that both these web pages also contain information about the fees related to professional qualifications.

Is having an RBQ licence mandatory?

Obtaining a valid RBQ licence is of legal importance. According to the Building Act, obtaining an RBQ licence is mandatory to carry out or have construction work executed in Quebec. 

Still unsure about the process? Check out our article about the importance of obtaining an RBQ licence, and you’ll swiftly be convinced of the merits of doing so. 


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Last modified 2024-05-02

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