Licenses and Permits for Opening a Restaurant in Florida

If you are opening a new restaurant in Florida or are the new owner of an existing restaurant, you are required by law to obtain a business license from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulationís Division of Hotels and Restaurants before you can begin operation.

Before obtaining that license, you are required to complete the following:

Food service plan review. This requirement is applicable to (1) new restaurants, (2) remodeled restaurants, (3) re-opened restaurants that have been closed for at least one year and (4) restaurants that have been converted from another use. You must submit a food service plan to the Division of Hotels and Restaurants (DHR) for approval. For new restaurants, it is recommended that you submit the plan prior to construction to avoid costly modifications.

Application forms. You must complete the appropriate application forms on the DHR website. If your restaurant will be serving alcohol, you will need to apply for a liquor license. If you have taken over an existing restaurant, you must apply to have the liquor license transferred to you.

License fees. You will pay a license fee based on the type of food service operation you have and the number of seats. The DHR has a food service fee calculator on its website to help you determine the fee amount.

Sales tax registration. You must obtain a sales tax registration number from the Department of Revenue or obtain proof of exemption prior to opening.

Employer Identification Number (EIN). All businesses must register for an EIN or tax ID number

Inspection. All restaurants are required to pass a safety and sanitation inspection before opening. You will need to contact the DHR directly to schedule an inspection.

County and local requirements. Different counties and municipalities have varying requirements and permits that may apply to your new restaurant. These can include:

Certificate of occupancy
Flammable materials permit
Health department permit
Sign permit

Romy Jurado is one of the founders of Jurado & Farshchian, P.L. a business, real estate and immigration law firm. She focuses her practice on business law, including corporate and transactional matters with an emphasis on corporate formation, stock and asset sales, contract drafting, and business immigration. Romy is originally from Peru and moved to the USA with the dream of becoming an attorney and entrepreneur. Romy is actively involved in the community through her work as a Score certified mentor, and speaking at conferences to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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