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Licensed Electrical Contractor or certified electrician?

What’s the difference?

Licensed Electrical Contractors are the only businesses, with some exemptions such as HVAC installers, in Ontario who are legally authorized to perform electrical work. Certified electricians are individuals employed by Licensed Electrical Contractors and are permitted to perform electrical work as employees of a Licensed Electrical Contractor.

Are there different qualifications or licenses?

A Licensed Electrical Contractor must provide you with an ECRA/ESA licence number that proves they can operate their electrical contracting business in Ontario. This licence number should appear on their vehicles, business cards and estimates and you should always ask to see it and confirm it using ESA's Contractor Look-Up Tool.

In Ontario, a certified electrician will have an Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) certification number after completing an electrical apprenticeship and successfully challenging the Certificate of Qualification exam. An OCOT certification number is not the same as an ECRA/ESA licence number and does not qualify that person to enter into a contract to perform electrical work. Once the OCOT certificate is obtained, the certified electrician can be employed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor where they can legally perform electrical work. 

Can a general contractor perform electrical work?

Your handyman or general contractor cannot do electrical work in your home unless they are a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Make sure any company you hire to do electrical work in your home holds an electrical contractor licence from ESA, also known as an ECRA/ESA licence number. Be sure to ask for it. 

If you’re using a general contractor, interior designer or other trade professional who subcontracts the electrical work, you need to confirm they’ve hired a Licensed Electrical Contractor for the electrical work. That Licensed Electrical Contractor will arrange to file the required notification of electrical work to the ESA and provide a copy of the Certificate of Acceptance from ESA once the work is completed. Whomever is performing the work must be the one to file the notification of work with ESA. 

Learn more about hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor here.