Most businesses, regardless of their size or scale, are required by law to have certain business licenses to operate. Often, depending on the type of business and the location, multiple licenses must be obtained to run a business legally in Florida.

The purpose of business licenses is to inform the government of the existence of the business in order to make sure that it is properly taxed and that the owners are following the guidelines for operating a business of that type in Florida.

State Business Licensing

The State of Florida requires licenses for just about every type of business regardless of their type or size. The State usually requires an initial business license and a renewal of that license generally every two years.

City Business Licensing

Each city or municipality may have its own licensing requirements for a business.  To determine what business licenses your particular business may require, you can contact the City Clerk’s Office for the city in which you wish to operate.

Zoning Ordinances

Licenses and permits are not the only requirements you need to comply with before beginning operations in your business; you must also ensure that the operations of your business comply with any zoning requirements of the geographic area. Businesses such as bars, gas stations, and pawnshops, for example, may be prohibited in certain areas of your city. Before moving forward with any business, it is crucial to ensure operations can begin in accordance with zoning codes.

Licensing for Contractors and Other Professionals

In Florida, contractors are required to obtain state licenses. However, it is important to note that each municipality may have its own requirements for contractors, which makes it imperative to consult each municipality for their specific requirements to ensure full compliance.

Business professionals, such as accountants and realtors, must also obtain specialized licenses. Likewise, health care professionals in Florida are required to obtain specific licenses and comply with unique requirements. If, for example, you were to start a dental office or a veterinary clinic, you will be required by law to obtain unique licenses that other businesses may not need.

Federal Permits

If your business is involved in activities regulated by a federal agency – such as selling alcohol, or firearms – then you may be required to obtain a federal license or permit. For example, if you manufacture, import, or sell alcoholic beverages, you will need to register your business and obtain some federal permits with the U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Businesses involved in the drilling for oil, natural gas or other mineral resources may be legally required to obtain a drilling permit from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement.

Penalties for Failing to Obtain or Renew Required Business Licenses

To ensure that business owners do not neglect to obtain the legally required licenses, the government imposes financial penalties for failure to attain the appropriate licenses. These penalties vary depending on the government agency involved and the type of license that was not obtained or renewed.

Failure to comply with city and state requirements for business licenses can result in expensive fines. These fines vary depending on a number of factors, all of which are mainly based on the nature of the offense. If, for example, a business misses a filing deadline for a license renewal, the penalty will likely be less severe than if a business has been operating for several years without the required business licenses.

A business that operates without a business license may have its operations suspended and its owner may be charged with criminal conduct. This is especially true for accountants, physicians, and nurses, as those licenses can only be obtained by those with specialized knowledge and training. Businesses that sell alcohol may be shut down if a valid liquor license has not been obtained.

Romy Jurado – Business Lawyer at Your Reach

If you are thinking about starting a new business in Florida, it is in your best interests to diligently research all the licensing requirements you must comply with before you begin operations. Additionally, you must consult with an experienced Business Attorney in order to make sure you meet all the necessary requirements. I can be that attorney. Call me today at (305) 921-0976 or send me an email to [email protected] to get started.