A crucial step in starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Florida is acquiring all the necessary licenses and permits. Depending on your industry and location, you may need them at the federal, state, and local levels.
This is a must, as, without them, you could face major penalties or even the closure of your business. Lucky for you, this guide lays out all you need to know to ensure full compliance in Florida.
Which Department Issues Business Licenses and Permits?
In most states, many agencies and departments issue licenses and permits depending on the type of business. For example, in Florida, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation issues most licenses, while the Department of Revenue issues several.
Check with your local governments about licenses and permits at the county and municipal levels.
Federally, different departments oversee different industries. As a result, licenses and permits are generally industry-specific, except for health permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For example, your business may need a U.S. Department of Agriculture license if you run a farm.
You must register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives if your business sells fireworks. Most industries, however, do not require licensing at the federal level.
The Small Business Association (SBA) has put together a handy guide that details which licenses and permits are needed for various types of businesses.
Common Business Licenses and Permits
Here are some common licenses and permits you may need:
If a federal agency regulates your industry, you’ll need to be licensed by that agency. Federal agencies that may require you to be licensed include:
- The Department of Agriculture
- The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
- Department of Transportation
Common licenses at the state level include:
- Industry-specific licenses for certain professions and industries, such as construction, plumbing, electrical, childcare, food handling, liquor, architecture, and finance
- Health licenses and permits
- Doing business as (DBA) permits using a name other than your LLC.
- Sales tax permit
At the municipal or county level, you may need the following:
- Building and zoning permits
- Health licenses and permits
- Fire permits
- Sign permits
How to Obtain a Business License in Florida
In Florida, you’re not required to get a general business license. But:
- Unless you’re operating as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll need to register your business entity with the state, usually as an LLC or a corporation.
You can do so online with the Division of Corporations.
- If you sell goods or services, you’ll need to register for sales tax on the Department of Revenue’s tax registration website.
- Other licenses can be applied for with specific departments. For example, if you have a restaurant in Florida, you’ll need a food establishment permit. You’ll apply with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) for this.
- Check with your local governments for licenses and permits you may need locally.
How Much Does a Business License Cost in Florida?
License and permit fees vary. A sales tax permit, for instance, costs nothing in Florida, while forming an LLC costs $125. Likewise, fees for food establishment permits vary.
Do Licenses and Permits Have to Be Renewed?
Some licenses and permits need to be renewed annually. A sales tax permit in Florida does not need to be renewed. Food establishment permits need to be renewed annually.
Check with issuing departments for renewal requirements for other licenses and permits.
Obtaining licenses and permits is a critical step when starting an LLC in Florida, so check with state and local government offices and fully comply with their requirements. If you operate without the proper licenses and permits, you could face steep fines or even the closure of your business.
If you’re unsure of state or local regulations and need help, consult a business attorney, as proper licensing is an absolute must.