Overview

This industry comprises businesses primarily engaged in providing food services at one or more of the following locations: (1) the customer’s location; or (2) a location designated by the customer.

Business types included in this category:
  • Caterers

    This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing single event-based food services. These establishments generally have equipment and vehicles to transport meals and snacks to events and/or prepare food at an off-premise site. Banquet halls with catering staff are included in this industry. Examples of events catered by establishments in this industry are graduation parties, wedding receptions, business or retirement luncheons, and trade shows.

  • Industrial Caterers

    This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing food services at institutional, governmental, commercial, or industrial locations of others based on contractual arrangements with these type of organizations for a specified period of time. The establishments of this industry provide food services for the convenience of the contracting organization or the contracting organization’s customers. The contractual arrangement of these establishments with contracting organizations may vary from type of facility operated (e.g., cafeteria, restaurant, fast-food eating place), revenue sharing, cost structure, to providing personnel. Management staff is always provided by the food service contractors.

General Considerations

Before starting a business, you probably will need to register with the Florida Department of State, the IRS and the Florida Department of Revenue. For businesses located outside of the State of Florida, evidence of registration with their Division of Corporations or Corporate Registry may be required.

When you have completed those steps, you must apply for a business license from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Florida law prohibits individuals from producing and selling food from their homes without a license.  However, Florida’s Cottage Foods law allows this type of operation for certain food products under specific conditions.  For more information, please visit the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Cottage Foods site.

Business owners in this category may also wish to explore assistance offered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Get Started

The following represents your interactive licensing checklist for this business category. Select the expandable blue bars below for more information on the specific licenses, permits or registrations that may be required to open your business. We have also included a printable version of the following checklist available at the top of this page for your convenience.

Register your business with the Department of State

Department of State

The Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations serves as the state’s central depository for a number of commercial activities. These activities include a variety of business entity filings, trade and service mark registrations, federal lien recordings, judgment lien filings, uniform commercial code financing statements, fictitious name registrations, notary commissions, and cable and video service franchises.

To file a complaint regarding a business or person licensed by this agency, please see their website.  To obtain this agency’s public records, visit: https://www.dos.myflorida.com/offices/general-counsel/public-records-requests/.

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Agency Introduction

The Department of State (DOS) is where you register your business. You can search and access filed information for corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, general partnerships, trademarks, fictitious name registrations and liens. Also, electronic filing and certification can be processed via the Department’s website.


Apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the nation’s tax collection agency and administers the Internal Revenue Code enacted by Congress.

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Agency Introduction

If you are required to report employment taxes or give tax statements to employees, you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to send with all items you report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Social Security Administration. If you do not intend to hire others, you may skip this step.


Register your business with the Department of Revenue

Department of Revenue

The Florida Department of Revenue administers three programs: general tax administration, property tax oversight and child support. The general tax administration program works with Florida businesses that are required to register for, collect, report and remit the taxes and fees administered by the Department.

The Department also manages the State of Florida’s New Hire Reporting Center. Federal and state laws require employers to report newly hired, re-hired and temporary employees within 20 days of an employee’s start date. This information is used to assist the Department’s child support program with child support orders. The employment information reported through the state’s New Hire Reporting Center is also used to detect and prevent public assistance and reemployment assistance fraud.

For additional information, please visit floridarevenue.com.

To file a complaint regarding a business or person licensed by this agency, please see their website.  To obtain this agency’s public records, visit:https://floridarevenue.com/opengovt/Pages/default.aspx.

 

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Agency Introduction

A business owner or contractor may need to register for, collect, report and/or remit one or more of the taxes, fees and licenses administered by the Florida Department of Revenue. This is dependent on the structure of a business, the activities of a business, and whether the business hires employees. In addition, businesses must report newly hired, re-hired and temporary employees through the State of Florida’s New Hire Reporting program managed by the Florida Department of Revenue.


Reporting Employment Information

The Department manages the State of Florida’s New Hire Reporting Center. Federal and state laws require employers to report newly hired, re-hired and temporary employees within 20 days of an employee’s start date. The Department’s Child Support program utilizes employment information and employer cooperation to assist with child support order compliance. The reported employment information through the state’s New Hire Reporting Center is also used to detect and prevent public assistance and reemployment fraud.

  • Caterers

Visit: https://servicesforemployers.floridarevenue.com/Pages/home.aspx

Business Taxes, Fees and Surcharge

Businesses in this category may be required to register for, collect, report and/or remit one or more of the following taxes and fees.

  • Caterers

Visit: https://floridarevenue.com/taxes/Pages/default.aspx

Apply for a license from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Department of Business and Professional Regulation

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is the agency charged with licensing and regulating businesses and professionals in Florida. A variety of businesses will need to coordinate with DBPR to obtain applicable licenses, registrations and/or permits.

To file a complaint regarding a business or person licensed by this agency, please see their website.  To obtain this agency’s public records, visit: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/instant-public-records/.

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Division of Hotels and Restaurants

This division licenses, inspects and regulates public food service establishments, including caterers, in Florida. Broadly speaking, a catering license is simply a type of restaurant license for an establishment that does not offer eating in (seating license) or delivery/take out (non-seating license).

Most establishments require a plan review and inspection before a license is approved, so be sure to leave time for these processes.

  • Caterers

Visit: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/intentions2.asp?chBoard=true&boardid=200&SID=&utm_source=openmyfloridabusiness&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=2016-07

Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (optional)

This division licenses, inspects and regulates alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. The Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco typically licenses alcohol and tobacco sales in bars, permanent food service establishments, caterers and temporary events.

AB&T requires licensure from either the Division of Hotels and Restaurants or the Department of Health in order to qualify for a license within this business category. Stand-alone bars are typically licensed by the Department of Health.

If you are interested in obtaining a food service license, you may also want to consider adding an alcohol and/or tobacco license to expand your business.

  • Caterers

Visit: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/intentions2.asp?chBoard=true&boardid=400&SID=

Explore assistance from the Department of Economic Opportunity (optional)

Department of Economic Opportunity

In collaboration with our partners, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) assists the Governor in advancing Florida’s economy by championing the state’s economic development vision and by administering state and federal programs and initiatives to help visitors, citizens, businesses, and communities.

To file a complaint regarding a business or person licensed by this agency, please see their website.  To obtain this agency’s public records, visit: https://floridajobs.org/about-us/who-we-are-and-what-we-do/requests-for-public-records.

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Agency Introduction

The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) utilizes public and private sector expertise to attract, retain and grow businesses and create jobs in Florida. It also provides valuable resources for businesses and entrepreneurs; assistance with recruiting workers; and statistical information regarding Florida businesses and employment. Your business may qualify for various state or federal assistance.


  • Caterers

Visit: http://www.floridajobs.org/

Additional Local Government Information

County Business Requirements

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Explore Federal Licensing Considerations

Federal Business Requirements

In addition to state and local licensing, many business activities are also regulated by federal agencies.  Businesses within this category may also be required to obtain additional federal licenses, permits, registration, etc. depending on your specific business activities.  It is recommended that you consult with a professional (e.g., attorney, CPA, SBA, etc.) to ensure you meet all requirements before starting your business.  The U.S. Small Business Administration is an excellent resource for potential and current business owners seeking assistance navigating federal licensing requirements.  For more information on the Federal Government, please visit www.usa.gov.

In most cases, you will need not need a license to import or export services or goods into or from the US.  However, international transfer of certain goods may require a license, permit or certification.  All items are subject to export control laws and regulations.  For more information, please visit USA.gov’s importing and exporting page.

Steps to Opening


Disclaimer: The State of Florida operates OpenMyFloridaBusiness.gov as a public service to Florida residents and visitors worldwide. While efforts were made to verify that the content of this website is accurate and comprehensive, it is recommended that you consult with a professional (e.g., attorney, CPA, SBDC, etc.) to ensure you meet all requirements before starting your business. OpenMyFloridaBusiness.gov is not responsible for the content of external websites.