Starting a business comes with challenges, but try to be sure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.
One of the first hurdles to overcome is getting your Florida business license. It’s not that getting the license is difficult — it’s just that finding the information you need can be tough. There’s no one-size-fits-all requirement, so you have to do a little research to get the answers you need.
Luckily, we’ve done most of the leg work for you.
If you’re wondering how to get a business license in Florida, or even whether you need one, we’ve got you covered.
Just as you need a driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle, you often need a business license to run a company. States and local governments use this process to hold you accountable for your actions and track your company for taxes.
Plus, having a business license can help you build trust with potential customers. If you’ve taken the time to get your legal ducks in a row, it gives the sense that you’re thorough and responsible.
So, does every business owner in Florida need a business license? It depends. Whether or not you’re legally required to get one is determined by:
Some occupations, such as manufacturing alcoholic beverages, can even require a federal-level business license. Click here to see if your business falls into one of the eleven industries that likely need federal licensing and permits.
For many businesses, though, you only need a state and/or local level license. State-level licensing is typically handled by several different departments:
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) regulates professions including barbers, electrical contractors, accountants, and more.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) typically handles licensing for industries like pest control and private investigation.
Finally, the Florida Department of Health oversees licensing agencies such as massage therapists and other health care professionals.
If you work in a “regulated business,” such as contracting, you also may need a county or city license. For example, Miami-Dade County requires taxicab drivers to obtain a license to operate in the city.
In summary, your location and occupation in Florida will likely determine whether you’ll need a state business license, a local license, or both.
Now let’s get down to the details of applying.
Since each county has its own licensing rules, you’ll need to check local sites for the most up-to-date information. We won’t leave you to fend for yourself, though!
Here’s what you need to do:
Visit the Florida Department of Revenue’s site here to find your county tax collector. For a business license, also called a “tax certificate,” you’ll select your county from the drop-down next to “Tax Collector” and click “go to site.”
Your tax collector’s site usually will either have a page dedicated to licensing and registration, or a way to contact the office.
Next, you’ll need to determine which state-level licenses apply to your profession. To review the 30+ occupations handled by the DBPR, click here. To learn more from the DACS, click here and navigate to “Business Services” under the “By Topic” navigation option.
Full licensing information for all occupations regulated by the Department of Health is shown here.
P.S. If you happen to be a contractor in Florida, we have a guide to getting your Florida contractor license here.
You might need to take an exam to get your business license. The State of Florida wants to make sure that people working in potentially dangerous jobs, like construction, for example, are qualified for the task.
To learn more about your business exam, education, or experience requirements, check with the appropriate agency.
Each license application may have different information requirements, so here are some details we suggest having handy. For starters, you need to know your personal and business identifiers, like your Social Security number or Federal Tax ID/EIN. The app also will likely ask for your business address and phone number.
If your occupation requires an exam for licensing, make sure you’ve completed the test and have the proof ready for the application. There also could be education or experience requirements, which means you’ll likely need school records or past employment information.
Finally, you might need a Certificate of Insurance (COI) for proof of business insurance. Business insurance requirements vary between industries, but a COI is typically how you prove to the state that you have the necessary protection.
Even if general liability insurance isn’t required to get your business license, it’s a good idea to have it. It could protect your business in case of an accident or third-party claim, and some landlords want proof of coverage before leasing office space to you.
You may be able to submit your application online, though each agency and county has its unique process. Generally, the website will have information about the different types of licenses available, and how to submit your application - whether it’s required to be submitted online or by mail.
For example, cosmetology licenses in Florida have categories like nail specialist and cosmetology salon. You can submit your application online or via mail, along with the required paperwork.
License fees vary, but it’s usually common to have an application and renewal fee. Fees typically depend on:
License coverage length also varies, but you should expect to renew your license on an ongoing basis each year you’re in business.
Note: If you have business locations in different counties, you may need to apply for and renew a license for each location.
As you review business license application requirements, you may notice that they mention “general liability” insurance. While licenses help hold you accountable for your actions, business insurance ensures you can help cover the costs of accidents, third-party property damage, and more.
Aside from being necessary to operate some businesses in Florida, insurance can help you stand out with customers.
Nothing is more frustrating than hitting a snag when you’re trying to submit your application. That’s why we suggest securing your insurance coverage before you apply for a license.
Using our free quote comparison tool takes only a couple minutes, and you can choose between coverage options customized for you. It’s a small action that marks a big step forward in your business.
You may need to show proof of business insurance to get your license.
That’s where we come in. Compare free insurance quotes for policies as low as $22.50/month.*Start Here >
How much does it cost to get a Florida business license? It depends on many variables.
After reviewing application fees across occupations, there’s typically a flat fee ranging from $50 to a few hundred dollars. Fortunately, renewing a license is typically half the cost of the initial fee.
When running a business, it’s best to try to do things right the first time.
We know you value quality work since you’re here learning about getting your licensing ducks in a row. While getting your Florida state license might take some time, the effort is worth it. At the end of this milestone, you’ll have an official business that’s ready to stake its claim in your town.
Whenever you’re ready to protect your business, we’ll be here to help. You can learn about business insurance on our blog, or use our free quote tool to find coverage options tailored to your business. See you soon!
* Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January - December 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
I'm a freelance writer who has always had an interest in entrepreneurship, starting way back with lemonade stands. These days I write to help business owners with their everyday challenges and choices. When I'm not typing away, you'll find me eating pizza, volunteering at the animal shelter, or taking too many pictures of my cats.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.