Florida Business License

Written by: Mary Gerardine

Last updated:

Florida Business License

If you plan to operate a business in Florida, there’s a good chance that you will need a business license, permit, or both.

In this Florida Business License guide, we’ll provide a succinct overview of everything you need to know to get started — including local and state licensing requirements, industry regulations, and associated fees — in order to allow you to focus on what truly matters: building a successful business in Florida.

Let’s get started!

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Do I Need a Business License in Florida

Florida does not have a general business license that applies statewide, but you may need specific licenses or permits depending on your business type and exact location.

Type of Business

Below, we’ve detailed common ways in which your business type can dictate the licenses you’ll be required to obtain, as well as specific examples of these:

  • Business Tax Receipt: Florida law requires many cities and counties to have a business tax receipt before your business opens its doors to the public. You can think of this as a business operating license
  • Annual Resale Certificate for Sales Tax: This is a certificate provided by the Florida Department of Revenue that allows businesses that have registered for sales tax collection to acquire or lease goods and services. This is applicable when those goods or services are intended for resale or re-leasing
  • Professional Licenses: The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) oversees the licensing for the construction sector, real estate, alcohol, and tobacco businesses. Similarly, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) licenses everything from pawn shops to private investigators. Another example is the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which regulates various healthcare-related professions, such as athletic trainers, dieticians, and massage therapists
  • Environmental Permits: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the state’s agency for environmental management and stewardship. The South Florida Water Management District states that an Environmental Resource Permit is required for development or construction activities

However, this is not the only factor influencing the exact combination of licenses you’ll need — the location of your business within Florida plays an important role as well.

Location

In this section, we’ve provided a succinct overview of the potential licenses and permits that your business may need due to local, state, and federal requirements:

  • Local: In Florida, the primary license needed to run almost any kind of business is known as a business operating license (also referred to as a local business tax receipt.). This license is generally consistent in its requirements across various cities and counties within the state
  • State: Businesses are required to submit a business tax application called an Annual Resale Certificate for Sales Tax (commonly known as a seller’s permit) to the Department of Revenue. This permit is mandatory for any business that sells or leases tangible property
  • Federal: While most small businesses in Florida are exempt from federal licenses or permits, businesses involved in sectors regulated by the federal government must obtain specific credentials. These sectors primarily include agriculture, alcoholic sales, and firearms, among others

Since the exact permits and licenses your business will need are entirely unique to your situation, you’ll have to conduct thorough research into your own local, state, and federal regulations to smoothly launch your business.

Alternatively, many entrepreneurs opt to leverage the expertise of third-party services to handle this on their behalf.

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How to Get a Business License in Florida

In order to get your business license(s) in Florida, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Form Your Business
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Apply for the Required Licenses and Permits

Let’s take a look at each step in more detail below.

Step 1: Form Your Business

Before setting out to obtain a business license in Florida, it’s pivotal that you first choose an appropriate structure for your business. Sole proprietorships, general partnerships, and corporations are all common choices, however, it’s often seen as the most advantageous for small businesses in Florida to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC). There are a few reasons why:

  • Limited Liability: Members are protected from personal liability for business debts, safeguarding personal assets
  • Tax Benefits: LLCs typically enjoy a pass-through tax treatment, avoiding double taxation that corporations are subjected to
  • Management Flexibility: LLCs allow for flexibility in management structure, either being member-managed or manager-managed based on the preferences outlined in the certificate of formation
  • Ease of Formation: With the Florida Secretary of State providing forms that meet the minimum state law requirements and the option to file online, setting up an LLC is relatively straightforward

Many small business owners opt to avoid the tricky process of forming an LLC by instead leveraging the help of third-party LLC formation services.

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Step 2: Obtain an EIN

The second step you’ll need to complete before applying for your business license is to obtain your EIN. This is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to businesses in the United States so that their financial transactions can be identified and tracked.

An EIN is often necessitated when applying for various permits and licenses as it allows local and state governments to ensure your business is operating within the confines of the law. You can obtain it in a number of ways:

  • Online: You can apply for your EIN on the IRS’s official website by using the EIN Assistant. You should be granted your EIN shortly after completing this application
  • By Fax/Mail: After completing Form SS-4, you can apply for an EIN by submitting it to the IRS via mail or fax
  • By Phone: International applicants and businesses operating outside US Territories are required to call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to obtain their EIN — which they should receive during this call

Note: If you are a sole proprietor, you will be able to use your Social Security Number (SSN) instead (as long as you do not have employees).

Step 3: Apply for Licenses and Permits

After settling on the appropriate structure for your business and initiating the application for your EIN, the next step is to focus on securing the necessary licenses and permits to operate legally within your locale and industry.

  • Local Licenses: To apply for a business tax receipt in Florida, the process may vary depending on the county or city where your business is located. For example, if you’re in Miami-Dade County, you must use the online application system or fill out and print the Local Business Tax Receipt application and submit it by mail or in person to your local government office
  • Statewide Licenses: Fill out a business tax application form for the Florida Annual Resale Certificate for Sales Tax with the Department of Revenue. This is similar to a seller’s permit. You can also apply for specific licenses and permits at the DBPR, DACS, and FDOH websites. These are the main licensing agencies for skilled trades in Florida
  • Federal Licenses: While the federal government doesn’t mandate licenses for general business operations, if your business falls under any government-regulated category, such as agriculture, fishing, firearms, and alcohol sales, it may be required to obtain an additional federal business license or permit

Note: To help you find the specific local requirements for business licenses, you can visit the Florida League of Cities website, a municipal directory with the most current information available for Florida’s cities.

Step 4: Renewal of Licenses and Permits

Businesses must renew the Florida Annual Resale Certificate for Sales Tax each year. Having said that, the Department of Revenue will automatically renew the certificate for you and then send it to you. Renewing a business license in Florida is generally handled at the state or local level rather than through federal agencies.

MyFloridaLicense.com provides a licensing portal where you can renew or maintain your city or county business license.

If you’re uncertain whether you need to renew any of your business licenses, make sure to reach out to the agency that issued it for clarification.

Alternatively, due to how complicated each step of applying for and renewing Florida business licenses is, you can choose to use a third-party service instead.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this process, see our article on How to Get a Business License.

How Much is a Business License in Florida

Florida does not charge a fee for obtaining an Annual Resale Certificate for Sales Tax.

This means that the average Florida business license cost in cities and counties can vary widely, ranging from as low as $15 to a few hundred dollars, depending on various factors like the nature of your business and its exact location.

For example, in Orlando, there is a one-time processing fee of $50 for obtaining a business tax receipt.

Remember that the cost of a business license typically covers the initial application fee, but renewal and processing fees are often separate charges that must be paid at later stages.

Florida Business License FAQ

How do I get a business license in Florida?

To get a business license in Florida, you will need to determine your business structure and register your business name. You will then need to obtain an EIN from the IRS, check your local, state, and federal requirements, and apply for all relevant licenses and permits. See our How to Get a Business License to get started.

How much does it cost to get a business license in Florida?

The cost of obtaining a business license in Florida varies depending on the type of business, location, and specific licensing requirements. Fees can range from $15 to several hundred dollars for local licenses, with state-level licenses potentially costing more. Additional costs may include inspections, background checks, and renewal fees.

Does an LLC need a business license in Florida?

In Florida, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) generally needs a business license to operate legally, but the specific type of license varies based on the nature of the business. Florida business license requirements can differ at the federal, state, and local levels. It’s essential to research and apply for all necessary permits and licenses to ensure compliance.

Do I need to apply for a business license in Florida?

In Florida, there’s no statewide general business license, but you may need specific local business licenses and permits depending on your business type and location. Local counties and cities often require a business tax receipt in order to operate. For more information, check our Florida Business License guide.

For all related articles, have a look at our How to Get a Business License page.