Licensing requirements for engineering firms


Secretary of State for Registration

Most engineering companies are required to register with the Secretary of State of the state in which they do business. Registration usually takes place when your business entity is created. If you offer services in another state, you may also need to register as a foreign or out-of-state entity and comply with the unique name, business structure, and ownership requirements of this state.

Once you register with the Secretary of State, your business can apply for an Engineering Business License through the state board of engineering. In some states, however, companies must receive board approval before registering with the secretary of state.

Engineering firm license (certificate of authorization)

Many states require engineering companies to obtain an engineering company license (sometimes called a certificate of authorization or certificate of authority). This is issued by the state engineering board.

Some entities may need to obtain more than one certificate. For example, in New York, a business entity authorized to provide professional engineering and surveying services in the state must obtain two certificates of authorization, one for each type of service.

If your company has more than one branch, you may need to register each location with the state engineering board.

Restrictions on the Business Structure of Engineering Firms

Some states prevent certain business structures from legally providing engineering and other professional services.

For example, in California, engineering limited liability companies are not recognized. If you are starting an engineering company in the state, the only entities available to you are a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, all corporations or LLCs — whether in-state or out-of-state — that were incorporated after June 5, 1969, must be in-state qualified. professional corporations or professional limited liability companies.

Name Requirements and Restrictions for Engineering Firms

When naming your engineering business, you should consider the state business entity naming laws. These requirements vary from state to state, but generally include the following rules:

  • The name of your business entity must be distinguishable from another name already used by a business incorporated or registered to do business in this state.
  • The name should also include your business type. For example, most states require that the name be followed by an identifier, such as “Incorporated”, “Corporation” or “Limited Liability Company” – or abbreviations thereof.

Some states have unique naming requirements that limit the names under which an engineering company can operate. A Professional Engineer’s License or Certificate of Authorization may be denied if your business name conflicts with state requirements.

For example, in California, if your business name contains the name of a person, that person must be licensed as a professional engineer, architect, land surveyor or geologist registered under the Geologists Act and geophysicists. If you have an out-of-state business but have a branch in California, your business name may include the name of a person not licensed in the state – if that person is properly registered and licensed in another State.

Designated engineering firm and individual engineering license

In many states, you must have all technical decisions made by an engineer in charge (or an engineer under his or her supervision) before you can obtain a clearance certificate. If this manager leaves the company, you must notify the engineering office and appoint a replacement.

If you have more than one branch, each office must designate a registrant to oversee professional services at that location.

Some states require all personnel in a company to be licensed in the state as professional engineers.

Ownership requirements for engineering firms

Certain state ownership regulations require that one or more officers or employees of the entity be designated as responsible for engineering activities and be licensed as a professional engineer. (Often they must also be licensed as a professional engineer in that state.)

Ownership requirements for engineering companies vary by state.

For example, in Illinois, professional corporations and LLCs that engage in professional or structural engineering must be 100% owned by licensed engineers or other designated professionals (e.g., engineering professionals). architecture or surveying) if they are authorized to offer the services of other professions. A corporation is not permitted to hold an equity interest in a professional corporation or LLC.

Maintaining Compliance

Staying current with licensing laws and regulations requires careful management. Maintaining your company’s good reputation includes ensuring you file renewal applications on time, manage qualifying licenses, track your company’s continuing education credits, and update records with licensing agencies. ‘State.

Here is a checklist of business license renewal requirements to keep in mind:

  • Licenses generally need to be renewed every one to two years.
  • If your business has been censored by a state licensing board, you must disclose this in your renewal.
  • Keep track of individual engineers’ licenses, especially responsible engineers.
  • Track all continuing education credits.
  • If your business has undertaken certain activities, such as a site change or closure, merger and acquisition, or added a new product or service, you may need to obtain additional licenses or cancel others .

Over time, your business licenses may also need to change, and it’s critical that your business maintain accurate records with each state agency. For example, if there has been a change in your corporation or LLC – such as a name change – you may need to amend your incorporation document (articles of incorporation or articles of association). You must also notify or file the change with the issuing licensing or registration agencies. Some states require you to obtain prior approval from the Board of Engineers for a name change.

A change in eligible professional employee or manager may also trigger a compliance action. When that person changes or leaves, you must update your business license to reflect the change. To do so, submit a request to the governing board notifying it of the removal of this part and of the name of the new eligible professional.

To note: In California, if you leave a company for which you were responsible for professional services, you must file a Dissociation record form.

Engineering firms must also meet annual reporting requirements to remain in good standing. This includes filing overdue reports for all businesses that have been dissolved during the year.

Learn more

For engineering firms, managing licenses and entities will always be complex. But with the right technology and support, your business can navigate these complexities with confidence, agility and efficiency.

Outsourcing business registration and license research, applications, management and renewals can help ease the strain on internal resources. By working with a full-service management provider that specializes in the efficient processing of business licenses, permits, and registrations, you can free up your time to focus on starting and growing your engineering business while ensuring you keep track of the process. changing compliance requirements.

For more information about CT Corporation’s services and how we can streamline your commercial licensing needs, please Contact us or call us at (844) 701-2064

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