4 Steps to Getting Your Bail Bonds License


A bail bondsman is a person who pays the bail fee for a defendant to be released until their trial and makes sure they appear on their scheduled court date. These bonds are typically a financial agreement backed by collateral such as property and will be claimed by the bondsman if the defendant doesn’t appear in court. In order to become a bail bondsman, there are 4 steps that must be completed.

Determine Eligibility

There’s no point in applying for a bail bonds license if you aren’t even eligible to begin with. If you live in Tennessee, you can contact the TN Department of Commerce and Insurance to make sure you are eligible. While not a requirement, it’s also suggested that you have a good knowledge of finances as well as contract law and criminal law. Other eligibility requirements include:

  • you must be 18 years or older
  • have no felony charges
  • have either a high school diploma or GED
  • complete a pre-licensing course
  • pass the state licensing exam
  • have sufficient financial resources to meet all surety obligations
  • have the sponsorship of a surety company

In order to get a bail bonds license in Tennessee, you must either be a TN resident or have a bail bonds license from another state.

Pass the Exam

Most who pursue a career as a bail bondsman go to college to get a degree in finance, economics, business administration, or law. While a college degree is not required, it helps you pass the licensing exam. If you don’t get a college degree, you can complete a pre-licensing training course.

The state licensing exam is typically a 50-60 multiple choice question exam to be completed within an hour. The fee ranges from 40 to 100 dollars. Just don’t show up without the test requirements: a pre-licensing course certificate and a credit card to pay for a fingerprint submission. Without these, you won’t be able to take the test and will subsequently lose your exam fee.

Apply for a License

Once you pass the exam, you can go online to your state’s department of insurance to submit an application. You will need:

  • licensing fee (via money order, certified check, cashier’s check, or insurance company check; not cash or a personal check)
  • licensing exam score
  • documentation of surety company sponsorship
  • submission of a bond for a state mandated amount

If you get your license, most states will have you continue education to have it renewed every few years (Tennessee does not require this). While you wait for your license to arrive, you’ll need to secure bail insurance. You can’t begin working as a bail bondsman until you have this insurance.

What you’ll need to apply:

  • Uniform application for individual insurance producer license
  • $50 application fee
  • social security number
  • a copy of your criminal record (contact TN Bureau of Investigation)
  • insurance licenses

Join a Bail Bonds Company

Your next step is to join a bail bonds company! Or start your own, but you’ll want to join a company when you first start out in order to understand how the business works.