Overview

This industry comprises businesses primarily engaged in one of the following: (1) providing food services to patrons who order and are served while seated (i.e., waiter/waitress service), and pay after eating; (2) providing food services to patrons who generally order or select items (e.g., at a counter, in a buffet line) and pay before eating; or (3) preparing and/or serving a specialty snack (e.g., ice cream, frozen yogurt, cookies) and/or nonalcoholic beverages (e.g., coffee, juices, sodas) for consumption on or near the premises.

Business types included in this category:
  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

    This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in one of the following: (1) providing food services to patrons who order and are served while seated (i.e., waiter/waitress service), and pay after eating; (2) providing food services to patrons who generally order or select items (e.g., at a counter, in a buffet line) and pay before eating; or (3) preparing and/or serving a specialty snack (e.g., ice cream, frozen yogurt, cookies) and/or nonalcoholic beverages (e.g., coffee, juices, sodas) for consumption on or near the premises.

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 one of these Florida agencies:

  • Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services  – Food prepared in grocery and convenience stores, bakeries, coffee shops, juice and smoothie bars, pre-packaged food vendors, and mobile food vendors and booths that sell non-potentially hazardous food
  • Department of Business and Professional Regulation  – Most alcoholic beverage licenses, free-standing restaurants, take-out, food courts, and temporary food service events
  • Department of Health  – Bars and lounges that do not prepare food, civic and fraternal organizations, food service establishments in institutions, schools, universities, detention centers, etc., and theaters that limit their food service to items customarily served at theaters (such as beverages, popcorn, hot dogs and nachos)

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 and the advantages of becoming a Florida Lottery retailer.

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.


  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

Visit: https://dos.myflorida.com/sunbiz/start-business/

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.

  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

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.

  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

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

Coin-Operated Amusement Machine Operators

Businesses in this category may be subject to the following certificate requirements.

  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

Visit: http://floridarevenue.com/Forms_library/current/dr18.pdf

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 in Florida. These include free-standing and take-out restaurants, food courts, caterers, mobile food dispensing vehicles (food trucks), hot dog carts, theme park carts, vending machines that serve prepared food and temporary food service events.

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

Unlike other food service licenses, temporary event licenses are issued on site at the event.

  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

Visit: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/intentions2.asp?chBoard=true&boardid=200&SID=

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.

  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

Visit: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/intentions2.asp?chBoard=true&boardid=400&SID=&utm_source=openmyfloridabusiness&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=2016-10

Apply for a license from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) supports and promotes Florida agriculture, protects the environment, safeguards consumers, and ensures the safety and wholesomeness of food.  FDACS licenses and inspects various businesses and professions in Florida, such as bakeries, milk producers, weights and measurements, pesticide dealers, oyster harvesting, pre-packaged food sales, beekeepers and travel agents, among others. A variety of different businesses may need to coordinate with FDACS 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: https://fdacs.mycusthelp.com/WEBAPP/.

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Agency Introduction

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Division of Food Safety is responsible for assuring the public of a safe, wholesome and properly represented food supply through permitting and inspection of food establishments, inspection of food products, and performance of specialized laboratory analysis on a variety of food products sold or produced in the state.


Division of Food Safety

This division licenses, inspects and regulates public food establishments in Florida. These include grocery and convenience stores that prepare food, most bakeries, coffee shops, juice and smoothie bars, pre-packaged food vendors, and mobile food vendors and booths that sell non-potentially hazardous food.

  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

Visit: https://www.fdacs.gov/Divisions-Offices/Food-Safety

Apply for a license from the Department of Health

Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.  The department’s goal is to be the healthiest state in the nation through innovation, collaboration, accountability, responsiveness and excellence.

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.floridahealth.gov/about/sunshine-info/public-records-requests/index.html.

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Agency Introduction

The Department of Health works with food service establishments to ensure their products are not a source of foodborne illness. Generally this includes food service operations located in institutional settings (such as schools, assisted living facilities, detention facilities, adult day cares, etc.), civic and fraternal organizations, bars and lounges that do not prepare food, and theaters that limit their food service to items customarily served at theaters (such as beverages, popcorn, hot dogs and nachos).


Explore assistance with 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.


  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

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

Become a Florida Lottery retailer (optional)

Florida Lottery

The Florida Lottery was established by the Florida Legislature in 1987 to maximize revenues for the enhancement of public education in Florida and to enable the people of the state to play the best Lottery Games available.

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.flalottery.com/openGovernment.

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Agency Introduction

The Florida Lottery was established by the Florida Legislature in 1987 to maximize revenues for the enhancement of public education in Florida and to enable the people of the state to play the best Lottery games available. The Florida Lottery offers fun and excitement for all who play, with new games, bigger prizes and more winners. Becoming a Florida Lottery retailer can add a new and exciting dimension to your business. Retailers earn a commission on each ticket sold, and a cashing bonus on every prize paid valued under $600. Retailers can also earn extra cash through various incentive programs.


  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places

Visit: https://www.flalottery.com/retailers

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.

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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.