What is a Seating license?
A Seating license is a type of food service license for a permanent structure that includes seats for customers to eat or ‘dine in’. This is the most common food service license and is typically what people think of when someone refers to a restaurant. In addition to dining in a Seating license covers take-out/delivery and catering services. Food safety requirements for a Seating food service license are the same as other fixed food service licenses.
What is a Non-Seating license?
A Non-Seating license is a type of food service license for a permanent structure that does not include any seating under the control of the food service. With a Non-Seating food service license establishments can offer take-out, delivery services and catering services. Food safety requirements for Non-Seating food service licenses are the same as other fixed food service licenses.
How many seats do I have? The number of seats is determined by how many seats are under the control of the food service establishment. Seating limits are established by building design, building code, fire safety, water and sewer capacity, and other considerations under the jurisdiction of local authorities.
Note – Septic Systems: Establishments on septic systems must obtain approval from Department of Health or Department of Environmental Protection before the division can issue a food service license. Many septic systems are not equipped for food service operations and could need extensive upgrades prior to approval. Contact your local County Health Department for assistance with septic system and well water approvals early in your business planning phase.
Steps to acquiring a Seating or Non-seating license:
There are generally three steps to acquiring a food service license with the division:
- Complete plan review (if required)
- Apply for a license and pay the license fee
- Schedule and pass the licensing Inspection
Note: Steps 1 & 2 can be completed online using DBPR online services.
Acquiring an existing business with a licensed kitchen intact and no changes are made:
No plan review is required if the kitchen is already licensed by the division and no changes were made. Get the license number from the operator of the kitchen and verify it’s currently licensed by searching here. Save the license number, it will be needed for the license application.
Licensing a new kitchen or taking over and remodeling any kitchen:
Plan review is required if an operator constructs or uses a space that has never been licensed by the division, has been closed for more than one year, or has been remodeled. In general the plan review process ensures food service facilities meet sanitation and safety standards. The following documents must be submitted with a plan review application: plan, menu, and proof of connection to approved water and sewer. For more details about plan review visit the plan review web page.
- For fastest turnaround apply using DBPR online services and upload all required documents at time of application.
- All DBPR food service licenses have a 7 digit numerical license number. Before purchasing a food service business verify the license by searching here.
- If changing ownership ensure the location address on the application matches the location of the licensed kitchen.
- If a plan review is required check the plan review page before submitting your application.
Food service license fees are listed on the food service fee web page.
All new licensees are required to pass a sanitation and safety inspection prior to opening. After meeting all requirements of the plan review and submitting your license application and fees, check your approved plan review packet for Inspector contact information or contact the department at 850.487.1395 to schedule an opening inspection. For more information about inspections view the inspections page.
Once licensed, operators must meet and maintain all applicable standards of a public food service establishment as provided in rule, code and statute. Conduct all food storage and food preparation operations in an approved, licensed food service establishment.You may not conduct food operations in a private residence.
Division personnel inspect as often as necessary for enforcement of the provisions of law and rule, and the protection of the public’s health, safety, and welfare. Non-Seating food service license operators must permit division personnel right of entry at any reasonable time to observe food preparation and service. If necessary, division personnel may examine records of the unit to obtain pertinent information regarding food and supplies purchased, received or used.
All requests for public records, complaints, forms, and applications for licenses can be obtained by contacting the Customer Contact Center.
Steven von Bodungen, Director
Division of Hotels and Restaurants
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1011