Whether they’re in favor of locksmith licensing or opposed to it, locksmiths have to comply with the regulations in place in their state (or sometimes city or county). Unfortunately, every state does things a little differently. Requirements almost always include criminal-background checks and fees. In some cases, they also include training, continuing education and even passage of a locksmithing exam.
As of publication, 13 states require locksmith licensing: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Virginia. New York City; Nassau County, New York; Miami; and Hillsborough County, Florida; have their own licensing laws.
Nebraska and Tennessee repealed their locksmith licensing requirements in 2021.
Even in states that don’t have locksmith licensing requirements, most cities or counties require business licenses for commercial lockshops.
Locksmith Ledger has compiled a breakdown of requirements in 2022, along with links to the regulatory agencies that issue locksmith licenses. Here’s our report.
In Alabama, all locksmiths must be licensed through the Alabama Electronic Security Board of Licensure (AESBL). Licensing requirements differ for company licenses and individual licenses. Every licensed locksmith will have a picture ID issued by Alabama.
Company license requirements:
- A completed, signed, notarized and witnessed company application form
- Proof of at least $250,000 in general liability insurance (company’s physical address must be on the declaration page)
- A state, city or county business license issued through Alabama
- A $150 first-time administrative fee, made payable to the AESBL
- A fee of $300 for a sole proprietor or $400 for a corporation or LLC, made payable to the AESBL
- An application for a Qualifying Agent, along with a company application
Qualifying Agent and individual license requirements:
- A completed, signed, notarized and witnessed Qualifying Agent application or individual application
- A passport-size picture
- Training certificates for the position(s) applied for
- A signed and notarized Affidavit of Applicant that complies with Alabama’s immigration law
- ALEA forms required for a state or federal background check, two fingerprint cards, copy of an unexpired driver’s license and a fee of $38.25
- Qualifying Agent fee of $150, $100 or $50 depending on discipline
- Individual fee of $50
Alabama Electronic Security Board of Licensure: https://aesbl.alabama.gov/
Application forms: https://aesbl.alabama.gov/applicants/forms-notices/
Alabama Locksmith Association, a good source for training: http://www.locksmithala.org/
Like Alabama, California requires individual and company licenses. An individual applying for a locksmith license must specify in the application the person who will manage the business on a day-to-day basis.
Company license requirements:
- Submit the application for licensure along with the application and license fee.
- Undergo a criminal-history background check through the California Department of Justice (CDOJ) and FBI.
- Submit two recent passport-quality photographs.
Individual license requirements:
- Undergo a criminal-history background check through the CDOJ and FBI.
- Submit a completed Application for Locksmith Employee Registration and registration fee.
Initial fees for a locksmith company are $500, then $300 every two years to renew. An individual license costs $55 initially, then $40 every two years to renew. If the company performs work at a single site that exceeds $500, a contractor's license also is required.
Locksmith applications: https://www.bsis.ca.gov/licenses.shtml
Contractors' State License Board: https://www.cslb.ca.gov/
When applying for a locksmith license in Connecticut, applicants must attach a criminal-history report from the State Police Bureau of Investigation and an FBI Identification Record or Criminal Background Check. The documentation should be attached and submitted with a completed application through the Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection.
A $200 application fee is charged, and the renewal fee is $200, due Dec. 31 of every even-numbered year.
Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection Locksmith Registration Page: https://portal.ct.gov/DCP/License-Services-Division/All-License-Applications/Locksmith-Registration
Criminal-history reports: https://portal.ct.gov/despp
FBI background check: https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks
Illinois requires locksmiths to complete an approved 20-hour training course and pass a state exam before applying for a locksmith license, which is issued through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
- Fingerprint criminal-background check
- Proof of at least $1 million in general liability insurance
Illinois locksmith licensing: https://www.idfpr.com/profs/lock.asp
Info on testing requirements: https://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/068/068012400D03000R.html
Louisiana’s locksmith licensing is handled through the Louisiana Office of the State Fire Marshal, with varying requirements for locksmiths and other security pros, including training.
Company fees for the following categories are $250, then $50 for renewal. Fees for individual licenses for the same categories are $100, with $50 for renewal.
- Security, defined as intrusion alarms, special locking, closed-circuit TV (CCTV), household fire
- Special locking, defined as electronic locking systems
- Locksmith, defined as mechanical and electronic locking, bank locking, special locking, detention locking, gate systems, CCTV
- Banking locking
- Detention locking
- Door hardware consultant
Accepted ALOA certifications for locksmiths that count as the necessary training: Certified Licensed Locksmith (CLL), Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL), Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL) or Certified Master Locksmith (CML)
Additional approved training sources:
Certificate of graduation from a Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program
U.S. military school or specialty rating, qualification or designation
Lockmasters Security Institute Professional Locksmithing course
Cothron’s Locksmith Basic Field Locksmith Operations course
Pop-A-Lock Fundamentals of Locksmithing course
Bank-Tec South Initial Locksmith Certification course
Elite CEU General Locksmith Certification course
In addition, 24 hours of continuing education are required every three years when licenses are renewed.
Louisiana Life Safety licenses: http://sfm.dps.louisiana.gov/doc/lic/lic_conversion-chart.pdf
Louisiana Life Safety and Security Association (offers training and licensing information): https://llssa.org/
In Maryland, locksmith businesses are licensed, but individual employees aren’t.
The locksmith license is issued to a business that’s registered with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. A principal official is associated with the company’s Federal Employer Identification number and registration number. The principal official is responsible for keeping the license current and completing all associated paperwork. This includes adding individual locksmiths to the report of employee form. A registration of technicians form also must be completed when adding or removing an employee.
Licenses are issued for two years and require fingerprinting and criminal-background checks of employees and proof of $300,000 in general liability insurance.
Fees are $225 for licenses and renewals, $50 for a business name change and $50 to add an employee.
Maryland locksmith licensing information: https://www.dllr.state.md.us/license/locksmiths/
Licensing in New Jersey is through the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Applicants are required to be at least 18 years old and hold a high-school diploma or equivalency certificate or request a waiver of the education requirement based on work experience. Fingerprinting and background checks also are required.
The fee is $150. Continuing education is required for renewals.
New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs: https://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/fbl/Pages/applications.aspx
North Carolina requires locksmiths to pass a North Carolina Licensing Board examination to receive a license. Initial fees for an individual license total $438 ($200 license fee + $38 for SBI/FBI record check + $200 examination fee). Renewals cost $300.
North Carolina Locksmith Licensing Board: https://nclocksmithboard.org/
The Oklahoma Department of Labor issues locksmith licenses. Individual locksmith license requirements include completed fingerprint cards, a state-issued ID card and a copy of a social security card, unexpired passport or W2 from a current employer. Applicants must be employed by a licensed company. Individual licenses cost $49.
New companies have to submit the completed Company Application, application fee of $250 and two completed fingerprint cards for each individual who owns 25% or more of the company.
To receive a locksmith license in Oregon, applicants must pass an 80-question online locksmith certification test. The testing fee is $60 and uses the following reference materials: “The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing 6th Edition” by Bill Phillips, available at online bookstores, and “The Locksmith Dictionary” (downloadable from the state).
Then, applicants must pass a criminal-history check and pay $60 for a two-year license.
Oregon locksmith licensing: https://www.oregon.gov/ccb/licensing/pages/locksmith.aspx
Download “The Locksmith Dictionary”: https://www.oregon.gov/ccb/Documents/pdf/Licensing%20Forms/Dictionary.pdf
In addition, Oregon requires associating a locksmith certification with an Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) license. If the CCB license exists, the owner or responsible managing individual should log into their CCB Online Services account and add individual locksmiths they employ.
CCB licensing info: https://www.oregon.gov/ccb/licensing/Pages/get-licensed.aspx
Locksmiths are required to have a Class B – Security Contractor Company License through the Texas Department of Public Safety. A background check, training (or apprenticeship) and passing an exam are the required. Fees are $37.
Texas licensing: https://www.dps.texas.gov/section/private-security
The following information is from the Texas Locksmiths Association, at https://texaslocksmithsassociation.org/how-to-become-a-locksmith-in-texas/
Assuming you have a clear background, the quickest and least expensive way to become a licensed locksmith is to find a reputable lockshop that belongs to a trade association, such as the Texas Locksmiths Association, and work as an apprentice for a couple of years. The lockshop will register you with the state and get you a locksmith pocket card so you’re legal. After two years of consecutive full-time work, you may contact the PSB to schedule a Qualified Managers exam. If you pass, you can become the Qualified Manager of your own lockshop.
Your other option for becoming a Texas licensed locksmith is to do the following:
- Take a 48-hour basic locksmithing course.
- Attend an approved locksmith trade school (must include a specific curriculum consisting of about 600 hours of class time).
- Work full time for a licensed lockshop for one year.
After you completed your education and work experience, you may register to take the Qualified Managers exam.
The Qualified Managers exam is difficult and will require you to be familiar with laws that govern the industry. Texas locksmiths are regulated by the Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1702 and the Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 35. To own a lockshop, you have to pass a federal background check, your work experience or education will be verified and you have to maintain general liability insurance.
Nevada requires locksmiths to obtain a local permit from the sheriff of the county in which the locksmith works. However, Nevada doesn’t establish specific criteria about who can obtain a license, and the decision of whether to issue a permit is left to the sheriff.
While locksmiths aren't licensed by the state, any locksmith performing more than $5,000 per year, either residential or commercial work, is required by the state to have a Home Improvement Contractors license. The license is handled by the state's Attorney General and requirements are a physical mailing address and proof of proper insurance. The fee is $52 for a two-year license.
Online application: https://hic.attorneygeneral.gov/login.aspx
Attorney General’s Office Information: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/resources/home-improvement-contractor-registration/, 1-888-520-6680 (HIC Consumer Helpline) or email [email protected].
In Virginia, locksmiths are licensed through the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and must complete 18 hours of training before being licensed. Other eligibility requirements are U.S. citizenship and passing a criminal-background check.
The application fee is $25, and applicants can work for a locksmithing business for up to 90 days while the licensing application is being processed.
Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services: https://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/licensure-and-regulatory-affairs/locksmith
In addition, a few cities and counties have locksmith licensing requirements.
Hillsborough County, Florida
Each locksmith services business must have a Florida Department of Revenue Sales Tax Certificate, a current valid Hillsborough County or other applicable business tax receipt and valid commercial general liability insurance coverage of at least $500,000 per incident for loss or damages that result from the negligence of the locksmith services business or any person it employs to perform locksmith services, other employees or agents.
The owner and all of the employees of the locksmith services business who perform locksmith services must pass criminal-background checks. Each locksmith-services business must disclose on the application its physical address and the addresses of any additional business locations.
Each locksmith services business shall issue a photo identification card to each person employed by the licensee to perform locksmith services on its behalf. All such photo identification cards must include the name and photograph of the person, the name of the locksmith services business and its license number. Each person employed by the licensee to perform locksmith services on its behalf must display the photo identification card on their person at all times while performing locksmith services.
Fees for a two-year Locksmith Business Service License (company, not individual) are $500 for a one- to five-employee business, $750 for a six- to 10-employee business and $1,000 for businesses that have 11 or more employees.
Hillsborough County regulations: https://library.municode.com/fl/hillsborough_county/codes/code_of_ordinances,_part_a?nodeId=HICOCOORLA_CH10BU_ARTXIIILOSEBU
Miami-Dade County, Florida
Every locksmith business that operates within Miami-Dade County must secure a registration. Each locksmith business must have at least one licensed locksmith in its employ. Persons who perform electrical work as part of their locksmith services also might require a county or state contractor license.
Each individual who provides locksmith service must secure a license. First-time applicants must have held an apprentice locksmith permit for at least one year or provide documentary proof of being actively engaged as a locksmith or a locksmith supervisor for one year out of the 10 years preceding the application for a locksmith license.
Upon successful completion of the application process, each locksmith will be issued a locksmith ID card that must be displayed on the locksmith at all times when performing locksmith work, whether on or off the premises of the individual’s primary place of work.
Company application requirements also include:
- A copy of current Miami-Dade County local business tax or valid municipal business tax receipt
- Articles of incorporation or fictitious name registration
- Certificate of insurance, with a minimum of $25,000 combined liability
- Individual locksmith licenses issued by the Office of Consumer Protection (Each locksmith business must employ at least one licensed locksmith, a separate Individual locksmith application is required.)
- Workers’ Compensation Certificate or affirmation
- Copy of owner’s driver’s license
Locksmith Business: $407
Apprentice Locksmith Permit: $32
Certified Locksmith: $42
Background check: $25
Miami/Dade licensing information: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/license.page?Mduid_license=lic1495136161985604
New York City
Although the state of New York doesn’t require a locksmith license, New York City does. New York City locksmith licenses are administered by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.
The following are required to apply for a locksmith license: a government-issued photo ID, a passport-size color photo, a criminal-background check and proof of qualifications, which can include any of the following:
- Two certificates recommending an applicant for a locksmith license signed by DCA-licensed locksmiths or
- A letter from Local Union No. 74 Service Employees International Union that indicates successful completion of a locksmithing course at a school and one Certificate Recommending an Applicant for a Locksmith License
- A certificate from a school that indicates successful completion of a locksmithing course
- Professional certification from ALOA
- Proof of licensure as a locksmith from another jurisdiction within the United States
Fees are $100 for a two-year license.
New York City locksmith licensing info: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/businesses/license-checklist-locksmith.page
Nassau County, New York
Locksmith companies are licensed through the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs. Many regulations are aimed at advertising and record keeping. Two examples: All advertisements and promotional materials must contain the company’s license number. Also, the past three years’ transactions must be kept in an electronically searchable database and be available for inspection by the commissioner, any person authorized by the commissioner, any police officer or any judge of the criminal court.
Requirements include information and photos of all owners and employees, background checks and insurance policy numbers.
Fees: $650 for a new application for a two-year company license, $110 for an additional location
Locksmith business rules and regulations: https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/12177/Locksmith-Business---Regulations-04-03-15?bidId=