What Are Florida’s Restaurant License Requirements?

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Opening a restaurant can be an exciting, yet difficult process.

This quick guide to Florida’s restaurant license requirements will put you on the right path.

Opening a restaurant in Florida is an exciting venture, but it comes with its own set of challenges—namely, obtaining all the necessary licenses and permits that allow you to operate without fines or legal issues.

Florida’s restaurant license requirements can be complex and time-consuming to navigate, so we compiled a list of some of the various licenses and permits that restaurant owners should consider. Remember though, always do your own research and contact restaurant industry or legal professionals to make sure you’re following the most up-to-date and correct processes and requirements.

1. Food Service Plan

In most cases, new restaurants will be required to submit a food service plan to be reviewed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants.

Food services plan reviews are required when your location is:

Newly constructed
Converted from another use
Re-opened after 18 months or more

The plan must include a high-quality, to-scale plan of the restaurant as well as a PDF of the proposed menu. This allows the Division of Hotels and Restaurants to make sure you are able to prepare and serve all foods safely.

There is no fee for the review. Once your plan has been approved, you will receive contact information for a local health inspector. Remember, regular health inspections are another necessary part of operating a restaurant.


2. Business License

A business license is a general requirement for all businesses in Florida, including restaurants.

Business licenses are issued by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations. Before you can register your business, you’ll first have to decide on a business structure—Limited Liability Company (LLC), limited partnership, corporation, etc.—and pay the necessary filing fees.

3. Food Service License

A food service license is a critical requirement for all restaurants in Florida. The license is issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). The purpose of the license is to ensure that food establishments comply with Florida’s food safety laws and regulations.

There are multiple types of food service licenses in Florida, depending on the type of eating establishment you will be operating:

Mobile Food Dispensing Vehicle or Hot Dog Cart
Vending Machine
Theme Park Cart
Culinary Education Program
Temporary Food Services Events

There may be other requirements, depending on which food services license you need. Please read the application carefully to make sure you have checked off all the items before submitting.

It’s important to note that the food service license must be renewed annually. You’ll need to pay a renewal fee and provide updated information about your restaurant, including any changes to your food handling procedures or staff.

4. Sales & Use Tax License

Another part of Florida’s restaurant license requirements is a Sales & Use Tax license. This license allows you to collect sales tax and other important operating fees.

You can apply for a Sales & Use Tax license here.

5. EIN Number

You’ll also need to apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN) in order to pay federal tax.

You can apply for your EIN on the website of the Internal Revenue Service.


6. Alcoholic Beverage License

If you plan to serve alcohol in your restaurant, you’ll need to obtain a liquor license from the Florida Department of State’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.

This license is separate from the food service license and requires a separate application.

There are several types of liquor licenses, depending on which type of beverage you are serving, its alcohol content, and whether it will be consumed on or off the premises.

It’s important to note that Florida law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 21. As a restaurant owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your staff is trained in responsible alcohol service and that your establishment complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

7. Health Permit

As a (hopeful) restaurant owner, you already know of the many risks inherent in the food services industry.

Before you can open your doors, you’ll need to pass a health inspection to ensure that your sanitation and food handling procedures meet the health code. Failure to meet this code could result in having your restaurant closed to the public until you can meet the standard.

In addition to passing inspection, Florida law requires that all food services managers must receive a food handler’s permit and all employees must receive training on safe food handling practices.


Other Florida Restaurant License Requirements

In addition to the main restaurant license requirements listed above, here are some additional licenses and permits that may be required.

Sign Permit (issued by the city and/or county your restaurant is located in)
Music License (in order to play music inside your restaurant)
Dumpster Placement Permit
Valet Parking Permit
Certificate of Occupancy (for new construction)

Don’t Open a Restaurant Without the Right Restaurant Insurance

As a budding restaurateur, you’re understandably very excited to put together a menu, hire a courteous and welcoming staff, and choose a name for your restaurant.

While it might not be something you’re looking forward to, taking the time to research Florida’s restaurant license requirements is a necessary step that will make the entire process easier in the end.

In addition to licenses and permits, there’s another important step you’ll need to take to protect your livelihood: restaurant insurance.

Some people may see insurance as just another boring item on their to-do list, but the right insurance coverage can make all the difference between a successful business and having to close for good.

If you’re in the restaurant business for the long-haul, we’d love to discuss your options to find the policies that will work best for you. Give us a call or visit our website for a free quote.

The post What Are Florida’s Restaurant License Requirements? appeared first on Harry Levine Insurance.

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