So, you have an idea to begin a business! Congratulations. This is your first step into the world of working for yourself. It's a very exciting time, so let's get started! Here, we'll look at ways for you to file your request for a business license and what else you may need to get started.
You should be able to file for a business license with your local county board. The State of Florida Department of Revenue has an exhaustive list of county tax clerk offices which will further assist you. If your county does not have an office like this, there should be an alternative. You may, however, have to travel to another nearby county or have a local representative come out to your place of business.
Turnaround time is somewhat dependent on the time of year. You would be surprised at the busy seasons (often the first of the year and the middle of summer). While some counties may be able to have you finished and ready for business in as little as 24 hours, we recommend not cutting it that close. Try for at least a month leeway in case there is a backup or there are other issues that need to be dealt with before the county can issue you a business license.
In addition to this, you may also require a city business license. This is largely the same procedure, but with the city tax office rather than the county. Typically, this is only an issue if you live near a major metropolitan, but we recommend checking on it just in case. The last thing you want is for the city inspector to show up and shutter your doors until you are up to date on your licenses, right?
A fairly quick process and a simple one at that. You'll need to supply proof that the name of your business is available (you can check this with the Fictitious Names Database search available on the Department of Revenue's site), your social security card, your corporate information (LLC, etc.), federal tax ID, the code of your industry, and any licenses or certifications in your field of business.
Cost will depend on the impact to the local environment (if any), roads, and so forth. You can call your local offices prior to appearing before them to get an estimate of the price of your business license.
This is where things get a little sticky. It's obvious that places like restaurants require food handling permits and regular inspections. However, if you are running a farm and field-type store, you may need chemical permits for certain types of fertilizer or even a permit for mass eradication of pests.
Your exact needs are something that your county and city board should be able to assist you with but do remember that these are separate entities. A county board may not require the same permits that the city board does and, in fact, both may require completely different permits for the same items.
Another good example is a mechanic shop. Many counties require no real plan for stored oils and containers of chemicals beyond no spillage and no contamination of the local environment (beyond reasonable assumption; they know a drip here or there is going to happen). However, a city may require that oil be stored in metal drums rather than plastic and the permits may not be offered under that issue.
Our recommendation? Research your business before trying to open it. Visit ones like it in your local area and in the area you intend to do business. Some may even allow you to see their licenses so you can get a good idea of what you're in for. Talk to your city and county board before applying, too. Many will give you a detailed list of what you'll need to do to satisfy their needs.
Are you considering running your new business under a name other than your LLC's or corporation's name? Then you need to register those names as a DBA. Simply use the Fictitious Names Database to prove that these names are available and apply for them when you desire. The process is simple and we have a whole article devoted to it right here. DBAs can be registered before the LLC or the business license is produced, so this can be your first step if so desired!
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