It can take months, if not years to start a business. However, running a business can be difficult. The Florida government might want to know the details of your business and the amount of sales tax that you are charging. This depends on what type you run.
You could be charged with criminal offenses and fined if you are caught operating a business that is not licensed. We have compiled a guide to help you quickly get a Florida business license.
Are You a Florida Business License Required?
Florida is a state that does not require or issue statewide operating licenses, making it significantly easier to run a business than other states. However, Florida law requires both state licenses and certifications for businesses that expose customers to potential dangers or involve occupations requiring intensive training. This includes:
- Engineers, architects, and interior designers
- Construction contractors and other occupations in the construction industry
- Real estate brokers
- Security services
- Barbers and cosmetologists
These types of licenses are issued by three state-level agencies in Florida. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation oversees the licensing of businesses in construction, real estate and tobacco. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees the agricultural industry, gambling, oil and natural gas, private investigation and security, food handling and production-related licenses. The Florida Department of Health regulates healthcare institutions and professions including those of athletic trainers, dieticians, and massage therapists.
These websites offer comprehensive guides that cover the different business types and occupations these organizations regulate. Check to see if your company or operations are listed on these pages. This will allow you to learn more about the licensing requirements. Once you clearly understand the licenses your business requires, you can begin applying for them.
What are the requirements for a Florida business license?
DACS, DBPR, and FDOH regulate some Florida industries at a statewide scale, but most Florida cities or counties require that businesses be licensed to operate within their jurisdiction. The general business license, also known as a business tax receipt in Florida, is required for all new businesses that provide merchandise or services to the public. The proof of payment is a business tax receipt and must be displayed at your business. It is also subject to inspection by officials from the county or city.
You will need a local tax receipt for every place your business is located and each business tax classification.
Florida has the Sunbiz website that provides additional resources for starting a business as well as information about licensing business entities.
Types of business licenses
Nearly every business will require at least one license or permit in order to legally operate within the state. It can be difficult to determine which licenses are required for your industry and in your locality. You may need to apply for local, state, federal, and/or county business licenses depending on what type of business you run. The complicated Florida system is made more difficult by multiple state agencies that license different types and types of businesses. To ensure that your business is licensed correctly, you should consult with federal and local agencies.
Florida Local Business Licenses
A business operating license is the most common type of license that you will require. This license is also known as a “business tax receipt” (in Florida). These licenses are required for all types of businesses. They will be almost identical across all counties and cities in Florida.
If the name of the company you wish to do business under is not the one registered with the Florida Department of State, a Fictitious Business Name or Doing Business As registration may be necessary.
To determine which additional business licenses and permits you may need, visit openmyfloridabusiness.gov/county-websites/ to find the correct links to each county’s building, code enforcement, licensing/permitting, planning and zoning departments.
Florida Statewide Licenses
Although it is not called a sales or use permit in Florida, this is the most common state licensing requirement. The Florida Department of Revenue must receive a tax application from a business. This is commonly referred to casually as a seller’s license. A seller’s permit is required for any business that sells or leases tangible property. This can be done online via the form at the department’s site.
You must apply for the required license(s), with the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation if your business involves in selling, manufacturing, importing, or distribution of alcohol or nicotine. This agency regulates alcohol as well as tobacco.
You will need to license your business to the Florida Department of Health if the business you own is related to public healthcare. This includes medical professionals, therapists and dietitians as well as tattoo artists.
You may need multiple statewide licenses for your business to be legally operating in Florida. You may need multiple Florida statewide licenses to operate your business.
Federal Permits and Licenses
Most small businesses in Florida do not require federal permits or licenses. However, depending on your business size and the activities you engage, you might need a federal licensing. You will need a federal business license for common business areas:
- Serving, distribution, or importing alcohol
- Explosives, ammunition, and firearms
- Wildlife and fish
- Commercial fisheries
- Transport maritime
- Drilling and mining
- Nuclear energy
- Broadcasting on radio and television
Steps to getting your Florida business license
If you don’t have a Florida business license yet, you will need to name and form your company. Check out our guide on finding the Best LLC Service. Once you have established a business, these details will be required for your application for a business license.
- Name of the business
- If you are a sole proprietor, an EIN (Employer Identification Number) or SSN (Single Owner Number) is required.
- Type of business entity (LLC, partnership or corporation)
- An address for your business and a phone number
- A business plan which includes expected revenue and expenses
- Certificate of insurance (COI), for your business insurance policy
Once you have all the information required, you can apply for the Florida primary business license. This is also known as a tax receipt in most areas. To begin the process, visit the website of your locality or, if your residence is in an unincorporated area (or both), your county. Fill out the required forms. You will need both a city and county business license for certain cities like Miami.
Using Florida’s OpenMyFloridaBusiness website, you should determine if your business may be required to obtain other licenses controlled on the local level and then apply for those specific licenses or permits as well.
If your business rents or sells tangible goods, you will need a seller’s license, also known as an Annual Resale Certificate for Sales Tax in Florida. To apply for this license, visit the Florida Department of Revenue. If you work in other areas, your business might also need to be licensed at the state level. For specific licensing requirements, see the Sunbiz website, DBPR or DACS or FDOH.
Final step: Apply for all applicable federal tax treatment or licenses for your business. The federal government doesn’t require or issue general business operating licenses. However, depending on the industry of your business, licenses may be required from specific agencies. Some farming, fishing, firearms, and alcohol sales are some of the most common industries that require federal permits.
What is the cost of a Florida business license?
Florida business tax receipts cost varies depending on where you live. Some charge a one-time fee of $50 to $100 while others charge a similar or higher annual fee. The average business tax receipts range from $20 to $200, but it will vary depending on what type of business you run and where you live.
The Florida Annual Resale Certificate, also known as a seller’s license, can be filed conveniently for free.
Florida Business License Renewal
Florida Annual Resale Certificates for Sales Tax must always be renewed each year. However, the Department of Revenue will renew it automatically for you and send it to your address.
For any additional licenses that your company holds, contact the appropriate federal, state, or local agency to renew them.