Contractors bidding and working on construction projects in Quebec
If you’re an Ontario contractor, find out how to get licensed to bid on projects in Quebec.
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Contractors who wish to work in Quebec must be licensed as general or specialized contractors with the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) before they can bid on a construction project. Plumbing and electrical contractors must register with and be licensed by Quebec associations specific to their trade.
The requirement to be licensed before bidding on a project applies equally to contractors who live in Quebec and contractors from other provinces. A fee must be paid with the application for a licence. The licence must be renewed annually.
Ontario contractors whose bids are unsuccessful may be eligible, under certain conditions, for a refund of the fees paid to the RBQ.
Four steps to obtain a licence from the RBQ
- Obtain and complete an Application for a Contractor's Licence from the RBQ
- Pass three RBQ exams:
- Construction project management
- Site safety management, and
- Administrative management
The exams are available in English and may be written by one or more full-time officers of a company. Instead of writing the exams, company officers have the option to complete a relevant training program recognized by the RBQ.
For those contractors who must complete step 2, it usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to process the application form.
Some Ontario contractors may be exempt from writing the three exams.
Ontario contractors can be exempted from the requirement to write exams if they prove one of the following:
- Company registration with Tarion Warranty Corporation (formerly known as Ontario New Home Warranty Program) for at least three years (for the residential sector), or
- Registration as a corporation with the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) for at least five years (for all construction sectors), or
- Registration of the company name with the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch of the MGCS for at least five years, regardless of whether the company is a partnership, limited partnership, or sole proprietorship.
The RBQ has developed a special application package for Ontario contractors who do not have to write the exams and an RBQ licence can generally be issued in 24 hours if the application is complete.
- Prove three or five years experience relevant to the subcategory (ies) of licence applied for. Providing copies of contracts or invoices for each selected subcategory meets this requirement. A list of subcategories for general contractors and subcontractors is included in the RBQ licence application package.
- There are several additional documents that an Ontario contractor must submit with the RBQ's Application for a Contractor's Licence:
Proof of corporate status, such as letters of patent, certificate of incorporation or partnership agreement.
(Note: Sole proprietors are exempted from this requirement if their company name uses the owner's name.)
$10,000 security bond issued by an organization recognized by the RBQ. This bond must use the exact wording required by the RBQ. (Sample wording is included in the application package.)
(Note: Members of the Guarantee Plan for New Residential Buildings do not have to submit this security bond if they are applying only for licences to build new residential buildings covered by a guarantee plan.)
Signed and dated balance sheets, review engagement reports and/or financial statements indicating that the company has a net equity of $20,000 (for a general contractor) or $10,000 (for a specialized contractor), and a minimum working capital ratio of 1.1/1.
The most recent year's information must be provided. Incorporated companies must provide financial statements prepared by a professional accounting corporation governed by a professional code. This information does not have to be submitted by members of the Guarantee Plan for New Residential Buildings.
- Proof of qualification with one of the authorized managers of the Guarantee Plan for New Residential Buildings for contractors wanting to build new residential buildings covered by a guarantee plan. Further information is available from the managers.
- Payment of the licence fee in the form of a certified cheque or money order payable to the Ministre des finances. (Licence fees are determined annually.)
Ontario contractors who specialize in electrical work must apply to the Corporation of Master Electricians of Quebec (Corporation des maîtres électriciens du Québec, CMEQ) to obtain their contractor's licence and mandatory membership in the corporation. Contractor's licence and membership must be renewed annually. Renewal fees are applicable.
Plumbing and heating contractors
Ontario contractors who specialize in plumbing, heating, heating systems, natural gas burner or oil burner systems, must apply to the Corporation of Master Pipe Mechanics of Quebec (Corporation des maîtres mécaniciens en tuyauterie du Québec, CMMTQ) to obtain their contractor's licence and mandatory membership in the corporation. Contractor's licence and membership must be renewed annually. Renewal fees are applicable.
Refund of RBQ fees
The RBQ will refund fees paid to it by an Ontario contractor if the contractor informs the RBQ that it wishes to terminate its licence within 15 days of being notified that a bid was unsuccessful. The RBQ will refund the licence fee within 15 days. (If construction work has already been performed under that licence, or if the licence is a renewal from previous years, there will be no refund.)
In order to obtain a refund, a contractor must complete a reimbursement form and supply proof that the bid was unsuccessful.
After securing a contract in Quebec, but before performing construction work, contractors with the appropriate licence must:
- Contact the Régistraire des enterprises du Québec to obtain a Numéro d'entreprise du Québec (NEQ) number. The Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) will request this number when you register with them. All firms carrying out commercial activities in Quebec must have an NEQ number and renew their registration annually.
- Contact the Ministère du revenu du Québec to:
- register for the Quebec sales tax (QST)
- meet the other obligations contractors have as businesses and, where applicable, as employers.
- Register with the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST) (same as WSIB).Obtain an employer number, produce declaration of wages, and find out the contribution rate applicable to the type of construction work performed.
- As either prime contractors, or those responsible for all work on the construction site, notify the CSST in writing of the opening of the construction site, at least 10 days before work begins, and on the appropriate form.
- Register with the CCQ to:
- obtain an employer number and fill out monthly reports on hours worked by all workers and applicable deductions, and
- become a member of the Association des entrepreneurs en construction du Québec (AECQ), to which all construction contractors working in Quebec must belong.
- Register heavy equipment with the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), when it is brought into Quebec.
- Register trucks with the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) and a brokerage service, where required. (For road building contracts, you must register with a brokerage agency to be able to work on certain projects.)
There are other requirements specific to certain construction activities: gas, petroleum, propane, work on high pressure equipment, and other specialties.
Tendering of construction contracts
Ontario contractors have access to construction contracts of Crown corporations at or above $100,000. The Crown corporations covered by the Labour Mobility Agreement are:
- Société des alcools du Québec
- Société des loteries du Québec
Electrical utility corporations
Ontario contractors can bid on any Hydro-Quebec construction contracts when such contracts are open for bidding to all Quebec contractors, and are subject to the same conditions applicable to Quebec contractors.
In addition, Ontario contractors are entitled to bid on any Hydro-Quebec construction contracts to be performed in the Outaouais administrative region, when such contracts are open for bidding to contractors in this region, and are subject to the same conditions applicable to contractors in this region. For this purpose, Ontario contractors will be considered to have their Head Office in the Outaouais administrative Region.
Please inquire about registration requirements with the Quebec authorities or the Jobs Protection Office (JPO), which can also help with other questions about working in the construction industry in Quebec, prior to engaging in any construction projects.
For general assistance or information, contact:
Jobs Protection Office of the Ministry of Labour
347 Preston Street, 4th Floor, Suite 430
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 3J4
This fact sheet is provided for your information and convenience only. It is not a legal document. For further information contact the Jobs Protection Office of the Ministry of Labour.