Drain Layer Contractor License

A City of Chicago drain layer contractor license is required to construct, repair, adjust, rod, clean, line, or use a camera to inspect a sewer or stormwater system outside a building. (Licensed plumbing contractors do not require a separate drain layer contractor license to perform this type of work.)

Drain layer contractor licenses are issued by the Department of Buildings.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is a drain layer contractor license required?

A drain layer contractor license is required to construct, repair, adjust, rod, clean, line, or use a camera to inspect a subsurface structure designed to collect or transport stormwater or sanitary wastewater. There are two exceptions:

  • This requirement does not apply to employees of the City of Chicago performing such work in the course of their employment.
  • A licensed plumbing contractor does not require a drain layer contractor license to engage in the installation, maintenance, or repair of plumbing as defined in the Chicago Plumbing Code.

Who can perform drain layer work under a drain layer contractor license?

The drain layer contractor license authorizes drain layer work to be performed by the licensed business and its employees, working under the supervision of an individual employed by the business who has passed a drain layer’s examination.

“Employees” means individuals that the business treats as employees for purposes of unemployment insurance contributions, worker’s compensation, and income taxation. A drain layer contractor license does not authorize drain layer work to be performed by individuals who are paid as independent contractors.

If employees of another business will be performing drain layer work at a job site, that business must be properly licensed and listed on the permit.  

Are there different types of drain layer contractor licenses?

Yes, there are three classes of drain layer contractor licenses:

License Classification Authorized Work
Class A Drain Layer Contractor Any type of drain layer work
Class B Drain Layer Contractor Only repair of private drains or work authorized for Class C
Class C Drain Layer Contractor Only videotaping, cleaning, lining, and sealing of sewers and pumping water out of basements

The classification of a contractor license is based on the examination(s) passed by the individual drain layer(s) who own or are employed by the business.

Who may obtain a drain layer contractor license?

Drain layer contractor licenses are issued to businesses, including sole proprietorships, that are owned by or employ at least one individual who has passed a City of Chicago drain layer license examination.

What is required to obtain a drain layer contractor license?

To obtain a drain layer contractor license, a business must employ at least one individual who has passed the written drain layer examination corresponding to the class of license applied for.

The business to be licensed must file a $50,000.00 performance bond payable to the City of Chicago before a drain layer contractor license can be issued.

How do I apply for a new drain layer contractor license?

The sewer permit section of the Department of Buildings processes drain layer contractor license applications.

Contact the sewer permit section for information about upcoming drain layer training and examinations, which are offered in partnership with the City Colleges of Chicago.

How do I renew an existing drain layer contractor license?

The sewer permit section of the Department of Buildings processes drain layer contractor license renewals.

How much does a drain layer contractor license cost?

License Classification License Fee Renewal Fee
Drain Layer Contractor (A, B or C) $125.00 $125.00
Miscellaneous Fees

Reinstatement of license expired more than 60 days: $75.00

How long is a drain layer contractor license valid?

For years before 2023, drain layer contractor licenses are valid for the calendar year in which they are issued.

Beginning in 2023, drain layer contractor licenses will be valid for one year from the date of issuance.

Ordinances and Rules 

Municipal Code of Chicago, Chapter 4-28: Drain Layers

This information is provided to help you better understand licensing requirements in the City of Chicago. It may not reflect all conditions, limitations, or exceptions that may apply to a particular situation and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. To the extent the information on this page differs from the Municipal Code of Chicago or applicable rules, the ordinance or rule controls. 

Supporting Information Facts