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October 18, 2017

Start-Up Guide

Forms, Permits & Licenses

FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS each require separate business documents. Here's an easy guide

| 6/1/2007
  • Check Florida’s official website,, for links to all types of state information for new and existing businesses.
  • File a “Fictitious Name” registration with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. Owners conducting business under a name other than their own must file, even if the name seems very similar. Thomas Graphics, for example, is owned by Christopher Thomas. Although his last name is part of the business name, he still must file. For filing fees and to register a name online, check the Division of Corporation’s Sunbiz website.
  • Obtain a state business or professional license, if necessary. Business owners can use the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s website to apply for their licenses (in some cases), renew licenses, search license records and find exam information.
  • Collect sales tax, both state and in some cases county, for many products and services and have a Certificate of Registration. The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) issues certificates and monthly payment booklets. Owners can register online for free or file Form DR-1 ($5 one-time charge). If the DOR tells you your business isn’t taxable, get it in writing.
  • File a “New Hire Reporting Form” for every new employee, full-time or part-time.
  • If you have employees (apart from yourself), file quarterly unemployment tax reports and make payments to the DOR.


  • Call city and county government offices to see if they require a local business tax certificate (formerly an occupational license) and/or zoning permit. For local business tax certificates, check with the city clerk or county tax collector. Fees vary by type of business and location. Many municipalities now make the forms available online.
  • County planning departments or city building inspection divisions can provide information on who needs zoning permits. Much of this information is available on city and county websites.
  • Small Business Development Centers often have detailed information on licensing and permitting in cities, counties and other entities in their area. Find an SBDC near you by checking or see pp. 70-71 for a complete listing.


  • File form SS-4 with the Internal Revenue Service and receive a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). (Some sole proprietorships do not need an EIN.) To apply for an EIN, call the IRS at (800) 829-4933 or download an SS-4 at Mail the form to: IRS Service Center, EIN Operation, Holtsville, NY 11742.
  • File quarterly or annual federal tax returns and an annual unemployment tax return. This step is required for most businesses with employees. (See “Taxes: The Tax Man and Your Business.”)


Florida Division of Corporations, Sunbiz
(850) 488-9000

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Licensing
(850) 487-1395

Florida New Hire Reporting Center
(888) 854-4791

Florida Department of Revenue
(800) 352-3671

Internal Revenue Service
(800) 829-4933

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