What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Florida?

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Quick Reference

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Florida?

Starting a business in Florida will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in Florida.

Before applying for any licenses, the legal structure of the business will need to be established. Learn more about the differences between the sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Related: Comparison of Business Entities

Business License

There is no general state of Florida business license, however, many cities require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does. Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements.

Jacksonville / Duval County – The City of Jacksonville requires all businesses operating in Jacksonville and/or Duval County to obtain a City Business Tax Receipt from the municipality where the business is located.

Any business operating out of a fixed location, including home-based businesses, will need to obtain a Certificate of Use from the Zoning Department.

Miami-Dade CountyNot all businesses in the Miami area are required to get a license, however, contractors, towing businesses, locksmiths, moving businesses, swimming pool cleaners, and others are required to get a business license through Miami-Date County.

Businesses operating out of a building in Miami-Date County will need to first obtain a Certificate of Use. Additionally, businesses will need to have an annual inspection of their property and obtain a Life Safety Operating Permit from the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department.

After obtaining the Certificate of Use, businesses can apply for the Local Business Tax Receipt from the County and Municipality.

Tampa – The City of Tampa requires businesses operating in City limits to obtain a Local Business Tax Receipt.

Orlando – Businesses operating in Orlando’s City limits must obtain a City and County Business Tax Receipt. The City Business Tax Receipt is available through the Orlando Permitting Services Division, and the County Business Tax Application is available from the Orange County Tax Collector.

A new tenant or owner of a commercial building will also need to obtain a Use Permit with the Orange County Business Tax Department.

St. Petersburg – A business operating in the St. Petersburg City limits will need to obtain a Business Tax Certificate Receipt, formerly called the Occupational License Tax.

A few specific types of businesses also need to get a permit, such as food trucks, handyman services, etc.

Additionally, a Certificate of Occupancy is needed from the Construction and Permitting Department before operating out of a commercial location.

Building & Zoning Permits

Zoning Depending on the location of the business, it’s important to verify whether the business needs an occupancy permit or has specific zoning regulations to follow. Depending on city requirements, home-based businesses may need to apply for a home occupation permit with the county‘s building and code enforcement department.

Building PermitA building permit may be needed from the city or county building and planning department if there is any construction or renovations to a facility.

Signage Permit Some municipalities require a permit before adding signage.

Sales Tax Permit

Businesses selling products and certain services will need to register for a Sales Tax Permit with the Florida Department of Revenue.

Resale Certificate

Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Florida Resale Certificate in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.

Professional License

A variety of professionals in the state are regulated, such as accountants, home inspectors, architects, landscapers, interior designers, and many more. Additional information and fees for regulated professions are available from the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS).

In addition to professional licenses, businesses in various industries such as food establishments, day cares, salvage yards, and many others also require licensing.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN (or FEIN or Federal Employer Identification Number). The EIN is the business equivalent for a Social Security Number for an individual. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number.

There is no cost for an EIN, and it only takes a few minutes to get.

Learn how to apply for an EIN

Fictitious Name Registration

While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for a Fictitious Name Registration (typically called a Doing Business As, DBA, or Fictitious Business Name) with the Florida Department of State.

These are some of the most common business licenses, but there are far too many licenses and permits for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, be sure to check with City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.

For some additional peace of mind, companies like IncFile or CorpNet can do the research and ensure you have all of the proper federal, state, and local licenses to start your business.