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Florida Business License Basics

Florida Business License Basics

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Florida Business License Basics

Starting a small business in Florida often means registering with several federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s review common Florida business license registrations so your business starts off right.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Florida 

First Step – Set Up the Business

Sole proprietorship: In Florida, a sole proprietorship is a business owned by one person. It is the simplest form of business structure, with no legal distinction between the owner and the business. The owner has complete control over the business but is also personally liable for all debts and obligations.

General partnership: A general partnership in Florida is an agreement between two or more individuals to operate a business together. No formal setup is needed, but a partnership agreement, but it’s a great idea to draw up a partnership agreement to outline operations and responsibilities.

Corporation: A Florida corporation is a legal entity separate from its owners, known as shareholders. It offers limited liability protection, meaning shareholders are not generally personally responsible for the corporation’s debts and liabilities. The downside is that corporations are the most complex structure to start and operate. 

Limited Liability Company (LLC): A Florida LLC combines aspects of a sole proprietorship or partnership and a corporation. It provides limited liability protection to its owners, called members, shielding their personal assets from the company’s debts and liabilities and has a flexible management and tax structure.

Related: Comparison of Business Structures

What Licenses Do Florida Businesses Need?

With the business structure out of the way, we can begin looking at the different types of registrations businesses in Florida may need. There isn’t a standard business license, as requirements vary depending on where the business is located and its activities. Here is a general overview of the different registrations your business may need.

State of Florida Business License

There is no business license from the state of Florida.

City Business Licenses

While there is no state business license, 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 also need to obtain a Certificate of Use from the Zoning Department.
  • Miami-Dade County: Not all businesses in the Miami area are required to get a license, however, contractors, towing businesses, locksmiths, moving businesses, swimming pool cleaners, and a few 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 obtain a Certificate of Use. 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.
  • St. Petersburg: A business operating within the St. Petersburg City limits will need to obtain a Business Tax Certificate Receipt, formerly called the Occupational License Tax.
Take the guesswork out of figuring out what licenses and permits are required to start your business with license research packages from Bizee and LegalZoom.

For as little as $99, you can save a lot of time and know your business is in compliance with local, state, and federal requirements. 

Fictitious Name Registration

Sole proprietorships and partnerships in Florida that want to operate under a business name other than the full name of the owner(s) will submit the Florida Fictitious Name Registration (typically called a Doing Business As, DBA, or Fictitious Business Name) with the Florida Department of State.

Building & Zoning Permits

Zoning: Before committing to a location, check with your local planning and zoning department to ensure compliance with zoning laws. For home-based businesses, you may need a home occupation permit, which is issued by the local zoning department. In Miami-Dade County, home-based businesses are allowed in residential zones, subject to specific requirements and restrictions.

Building Permit: If you plan to construct, alter, or repair a building for your business in Florida, you’ll need a building permit from your local building department. In most cities and counties, the local building department is responsible for issuing building permits. For example, in Jacksonville, building permits are issued by the Building Inspection Division of the Planning and Development Department.

Signage Permit: Before installing any business signage in Florida, you must obtain a sign permit from your local government. Each city and county has its own signage regulations and permit requirements. In Tampa, sign permits are issued by the Construction Services Division, while in Orlando, the Permitting Services Division handles sign permits. Check with your local government for specific signage requirements and permit application processes in your area.

Sales Tax Permit

Businesses selling products and certain services will need to register for a Florida Seller’s Permit (sometimes referred to as a Sales Tax License) with the Florida Department of Revenue.

Resale Certificate

After obtaining the tax permit, most businesses will want to obtain a Florida Resale Certificate. This allows them to not pay sales tax on their inventory purchases meant to be resold to customers.

Professional License

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

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

The Florida Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to businesses operating in Florida. It is used for tax filing and reporting purposes, similar to how an individual uses a Social Security number. Companies can apply for an EIN through the IRS website or by submitting a paper form.

Next Steps

While it’s a good start, there are so many different licenses that may be needed. Double-check with the City Clerk’s Office, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Development office in your area before opening your doors.

Florida Business License Basics

Florida Business License Basics

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