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Re: Hey, I got a friend...

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As Matthew said, your friend is basically right.  Many states require a COA/"firm registration" of any engineering company (i.e. LLC, Inc, etc) "practicing engineering" (aka "sealing drawings") for projects in their state.  As I understand it, some even go as far as to require the company to have some "local" contact there so that if you get sued there is somewhere local for the papers to be served.  From what I understand, there are companies that provide a service that gives you that "local" contact in the state rather than having to actually have an office there.  Some states as part of the COA process require the company to name an "engineer in charge" of the work in that state, who must be licensed in that state.  This usually applies to a remote office that might be opened in that state (i.e. so that you don't setup an office in the state without a engineer who is licensed in that state actually THERE to oversee the work).

The only way that I know around this is if you are a pure individual practicing in the state.  In other words, if you are an individual engineer, who has not setup an LLC, etc, practicing engineering in that state, then you don't need a COA.

I look at it as kind of like a company PE license, so to speak.  I believe it is there to help deal with companies that might be "illegally" practicing/advertising engineering (i.e. don't have a PE on staff).  This gets into the other fun part...company structure requirements.  Many states have some rules the list how much of the "ownership" of the registered company must be PEs.  As I see it, this is to prevent some company that is owned by some bean counters telling the licensed engineering what to do on the engineering projects...or "get fired".  For example, in Michigan (unless they changed it recently, which I doubt), they require 2/3s of the "principles" of the company to be licensed.  Now, they do kind of have a "loose" definition for what a "principle" is...i.e. not just a part owner...could be some officer in the company is not actually an owner.  I believe in New York, 100% of the ownership must be licensed (i.e. a non-licensed individual cannot be a part owner), but I could be wrong.

You should tell you friend that he should tell his company to go read the PE laws in the state they practice in and/or talk to a lawyer that specializes in construction/engineering stuff.  Such COAs are specifically called out in the PE laws in the various states, so it is NOT just a "business license fee". 

Regards,

Scott

On Sep 1, 2011, at 7:10 PM, Bill Polhemus wrote:

> ...who works for a company that does engineering for clients in multiple states from a single office. Friend is of the opinion that company should have certificates of authority (aka "Firm Registration") in each state for which they provide sealed engineering documents. 
> 
> Company disagrees, says CA required only for state in which they have their office. It's like business license fee. 
> 
> Thoughts?
> 
> William L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.
> Via iPhone 4
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