If you own a restaurant, liquor store, or bar in Florida, there are a number of licenses required to operate your business. There are many laws related to municipal licensing, and they vary from municipality to municipality. Beverage License Specialists, with over 30 years of experience, knows exactly what you need and is the best option to help you acquire this license.
Whether you have purchased an existing building, are building a new structure, or are remodeling a former space, it is important to understand everything you need in terms of permits, zoning, and other regulations. Rather than stress out over what you need to do to acquire a municipal license and meet other government requirements, let Beverage License Specialists help. You can focus your time and energy on getting your business up and running so you can begin to make money.
Register the Business
There are several steps necessary to acquire a municipal license. If you have a corporate name but your business is operating under a different name, you will need to apply for a D/B/A or fictitious name with the Division of Corporations within the Florida Secretary of State.
Businesses need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. An EIN is a unique nine-digit number that is used for identification purposes. This number is included on employment tax reports, income tax forms, and bank account applications.
Municipal Licensing Process
When applying for licenses, each municipality will require different information that is specific to the business type. Some required information may include:
- Hours of operation
- Size of establishment
- Number of employees
- Type of entertainment
- Copy of valid driver’s license for the principals of the business
Depending on the municipality, a Certificate of Use and Occupancy may be required. This certificate must be acquired before occupying any industrial, commercial, or office location. Any alterations or remodeling that must be done to the property must be completed and pass final inspections before applying for a Certificate of Use. The certificate verifies that the space has been approved for the type of business activity and that the business is allowed in the zoning district. The information needed to apply for the certificate includes
- Business name
- Business address
- Corporation name
- Business type
- Square footage of occupied space
- Title of corporate officer
- Property folio number
During the licensing process, fire safety and code inspections are required. Fire inspections make sure all fire codes are being followed and identify any hazardous materials or unsafe conditions. The inspectors will check for numerous things such as properly marked exits, the presence of extinguishers, fire alarms, the electrical system, and safely stored hazardous materials. General code inspectors will review and inspect plumbing, mechanical, energy, and electrical systems and will ensure the place is ADA accessible.
Once you have all the other government-issued licenses, then you are required to apply for a Business Tax Receipt (BTR). A BTR is formerly known as a business license or occupational license. All sizes of businesses, including home-based ones, are required to get one, although some businesses are exempt. The number of BTRs you may need is based on the location of the business. You will need a Business Tax Receipt from both the city and county that has jurisdiction, although just a county BTR is necessary if the business is in an unincorporated county.
Costs and Applying Process
Applying for a Business Tax Receipt can be done in person or online, depending on the municipality. The costs for licenses and inspections vary widely based on a variety of factors. There is an annual fee for Business Tax Receipts, and this varies according to the specific municipality. Other determining factors include the type of business, square footage, hours of operation, and the number of employees.
Consequences for Operating a Business Without a License
Whether someone wants to outsmart the system or just forgets some of the steps, there are severe consequences for operating a business without the proper licensing. Fines are common, and the amount depends on different factors. Failure to renew a license often results in a flat fee.
Not having proper licensure can also lead to code Enforcement action including fines and/or closure of the business as consequences if a municipal license and other licenses are not obtained.
Why Choose Us
To avoid legal trouble and to ensure all regulations are followed and met, take advantage of the experience of Beverage License Specialists. The company works with owners of restaurants, liquor stores, bars, nightclubs, cafes, beach clubs, catering companies, golf courses, hotels, and private clubs.
The company can help familiarize you with the different requirements each municipality has regarding licensing and will ensure you are licensed properly with the city, county, and state. Being a business owner takes a lot of work, and having assistance when acquiring a municipal license can take away some stress. Contact Beverage License Specialists for your licensing needs.