Business Licenses: Which Ones Do You Need and Why?

So you have a booming business concept, a location in mind, and a plan of action all lined up. What’s next? Before you start putting your vision in motion, you’ll need to make sure your business can legally operate within your city and state. That means applying for the right licenses and permits. Check this quick guide for an overview of the licenses and permits you’ll need to get started—and the reasons why they’re so important.

Business Licenses

Sometimes referred to as a “Business Tax Receipt,” your business license gives you the general right to operate a business within your city. After you file an application and pay the associated fee, the county or city planning or zoning department will make sure your location is zoned for your desired business purposes. They will also check to make sure you fulfill any additional requirements, for instance whether there are enough parking spaces to satisfy the codes. Essentially, business licenses confirm that you have paid local business taxes and met local requirements to do business at your location.

Certificates of Use

You may need Certificate of Use and Occupancy, also known as a “C.U.” or Zoning Permit, depending on the location of your business. You’ll want to apply before occupying any commercial, industrial, or office location. The Certificate of Use basically verifies that your business is in a space and building that is suitable for your type of business activity.

State or Federal Licenses

If your business involves state or federally supervised and regulated activities, you may need additional licenses. Businesses involving alcoholic beverages, mining, or transportation often require a federal license or permit. Businesses involving agriculture, construction, cosmetology, or hospitality, to name a few, often require a state license. They are meant to insure that your business complies with state and federal laws and regulations.

Professional Licenses

People in certain professions need to demonstrate the right level of expertise before they can practice in their field. These licensing requirements are intended to protect the public by establishing a standard for each professional field. Imagine the problems that could arise if someone could provide dental treatment without sufficient hygiene or skill? If you are a veterinarian, doctor, real estate agent, or hairdresser, you generally need to acquire a professional license before you can offer your particular service.

Tax Identification

A corporate entity is considered a fictitious person. When a person is born, it receives a Social Security Number. Likewise, when a new business is formed, it receives an Employer Identification Number, or “EIN.” You will need to notify the IRS of the new entity by registering for this number, unless your business is a sole proprietorship associated with your own Social Security Number. Aside from the federal tax identification, you may also need to make filings for state sales tax or payroll taxes. Fortunately, Florida’s Constitution does not permit income tax. With the right tax filings, you’ll ensure your business complies with regulations and avoids liability.

If your business is unusual or complex, it may be a challenge to identify the licenses and permits that you will need. Call us when you’re ready to get started. We would be happy to discuss your options and guide you down the right path.

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Written by Gersten and Muir

Gersten and Muir

The attorneys of Gersten & Muir, P.A. are passionate advocates for businesses throughout Miami-Dade County. We provide numerous business legal services to help make your company grow and flourish. We are knowledgeable and dedicated to finding solutions that fit your company’s needs.