How to Get a Business License in Florida

How to Get a Business License in Florida

How to Get a Business License in Florida

If you’re going to start a business in the state of Florida, you may need to get one or more types of business licenses. These can include general business licenses, professional licenses and/or occupational licenses. 

Learn how to get business licenses in Florida. 

What Licenses Are Required to Start a Business In Florida?

The type of business license you will need in Florida depends on the kind of business you start. There are two main licensing agencies in Florida, and others that regulate specific types of small businesses. 

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) regulates certain professions. These are some examples of businesses that must meet specific licensing requirements. (This list is not comprehensive so be sure to check the additional resources below): 

  • Alcoholic & Beverage: Manufacturers/distillers, rectifiers or blenders of spirits, malt beverages or wines, importers or exporters of alcoholic beverages, and distributors of alcoholic beverages.
  • Architects
  • Athlete agents
  • Auctioneers
  • Barbers
  • Certified Public Accountants
  • Cosmetology (hair cutting, hair arranging, hair coloring, permanent waving, and hair relaxing wax treatments, manicures, pedicures, and skin care services for compensation)
  • Contractors (demolishes, subtracts from, builds or improves any building or structure for compensation, includes remodeling, and certain types of plumbing)
  • Electrical alarm contracts
  • Employee leasing companies 
  • Home inspectors
  • Hotels, motels and apartments
  • Interior design
  • Landscape architecture
  • Real estate
  • Restaurants and food vendors
  • Veterinary medicine

You can review the full list with details on business licensing requirements under the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation here

The other main agency that licenses businesses in Florida is the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) which regulates a variety of professions. DACS issues Florida business licenses for professions that include:

  • Pawnbrokers
  • Pest control businesses
  • Private investigators
  • Sellers of travel services
  • Surveyors and mappers

You can learn more about licenses managed by DACS here. 

Other professional licenses may be required and managed by other agencies. For example:

  • Massage therapists, tattoo artists, nurses, pharmacists and clinical social workers are licensed through the Florida Department of Health.
  • Daycare facilities are licensed through the Department of Children and Family Services. 
  • Insurance agents are licensed through the Department of Financial Services. 

Your business may also need a county occupational license which is typically obtained from your county government. Be sure to check with your local government agencies (city and county) for additional information on local licenses that may be required. 

What Are the Costs to Register a Small Business in Florida?

The cost to register a new small business in Florida will depend on a number of factors, including the business structure you choose. Following are summaries of the main filing fees. (There may be additional fees for specific services. Visit the Florida Division of Corporations Sunbiz website for details.)

New Florida Corporation

Filing fees$35
Registered agent designation$35
Certified Copy (optional)$8.75
Certificate of Status (optional)$8.75

Annual Reports for Corporations

Annual report (for-profit business)$150
Amended Profit Annual Report$61.25

New Florida/Foreign Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Filing fee (required)$100
Registered agent designation (required)$25
Certified Copy (optional)$30
Certificate of Status (optional)$5

Annual Reports for LLCs

Annual Report (with supplemental fee)$138.75
Amended Annual Report$50

New Florida Limited Partnership

Filing fee $965
Registered agent designation$35
Certified Copy (optional)$52.50
Certificate of Status (optional)$8.75

Annual Reports for Florida LPs

Annual Report$411.25
Supplemental Fee$88.75

Note that there is an extra $400 in addition to the filing fee for corporations and LLCs that fail to file annual reports by May 1st. For Limited Partnerships, the extra cost is $500. Business owners should make sure to pay on time to avoid a hefty additional charge! 

Entrepreneurs that want to register a fictitious business name (“doing business as” or DBA) must pay the fee of $50 for fictitious name registration and $50 to renew.

Sole proprietorships do not pay these fees, though they may want to register a fictitious name and may still need to obtain business or professional licenses. 

In addition to the fees above, your business may need to obtain business, professional and/or occupational licenses. The fees for those vary. 

The Florida Department of State offers a number of resources that explain how to start a business in Florida. In addition, you can get free help from the Small Business Administration (SBA) or one of the SBA Resource Partners such as Small Business Development Centers or SCORE.

What Are the Pros of Starting a Business in Florida?

In addition to being known as the “Sunshine State,” an increasing number of businesses call Florida home for a variety of reasons. It is known as having a growing economy, pro-business climate, and a large labor pool. It is relatively easy and cost effective to start a new business in Florida. 

Tax benefits are also available. There is no personal income tax in Florida and the corporate tax rate is just 5.5%.

Does Florida Require LLCs to Pay Income Taxes?

Unless your LLC is incorporated, income passes through to the owner and you will not be assessed a Florida state corporate income tax. In addition, there is no personal income tax in Florida. This can result in significant savings over high-tax states. 

Of course, your business may also have to pay any required federal income taxes. Check whether your business needs an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. 

You will also want to check with the Florida Department of Revenue to determine whether your business activities require your business to pay sales tax and use tax. Businesses that register with the Florida Department of Revenue to collect sales tax are issued a Florida Annual Resale Certificate for Sales Tax. 

Why a Business License is Essential for Business Credit

Getting business licenses won’t directly affect your business credit reports or scores. But a business license application could be obtained by credit reporting agencies or other organizations, and help to start your business credit files. 

In addition, getting business licenses is an essential part of creating a legitimate business, and those activities in turn can help you build a business that will be better qualified to get financing. Other steps include getting a business address and/or business mailing address and business phone number. 

Read: 15 Step Checklist to Make Your Business Legit

Why a Business License is Essential for Business Loans

First, it’s important to understand that a business that operates without the required licenses could be breaking the law. Under Florida law, operating a business without a license, if one is required, is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. 

When it comes to financing, banks may require a copy of your business license to open a business bank account. And some lenders may require a copy of your business license (if required) when you apply for a small business loan or financing. Most small business credit cards don’t require a business license to qualify.

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