APPLY FOR A LICENSE
Florida law requires owners of new public food service or lodging establishments, and new owners of existing establishments, to obtain a license from the division before commencing operation. Some general information regarding licensing is available from our forms page. For more information about specific types of licenses, see our Licensing Guides webpage. For information about what other agencies regulate food service establishments in Florida see our food service jurisdiction page.
DIVISION OF HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS REQUIREMENTS
Before the division may issue a license, each applicant must complete the following:
1. Plan Review (Food Service Only)
Florida law and rule requires operators of public food service establishments to submit properly prepared facility plans and specifications to the division for review and approval if the establishment is:
- Newly constructed,
- Converted from another use, or
- Reopened after being closed at least 1 year.
You may skip this requirement if your establishment does not meet these criteria. The division recommends completion of plan review approval before construction to avoid potential costly modifications. See our plan review webpage for more information.
2. Application Forms
Obtain and complete the appropriate application forms. Each operation requires a separate license. Therefore, if you intend to serve food inside a lodging facility (such as a hotel), you will need a license for the hotel and a separate license for each food service operation on the premises.
3. License Fees
License fees are listed on our food service fee and lodging fee web pages or you can use our fee calculator. If submitting an application within six months or less of the expiration date, you are required to pay only a half-year fee. If you are applying more than six months prior to the expiration date, the full-year fee must be paid (view state wide expiry dates here). All new and transfer applications must include a $50 application fee in addition to the license fees.
The appropriate license fee must be paid to the division before a license will be issued. Please make checks payable to the Division of Hotels and Restaurants. For assistance in determining the correct license fee, please contact the department at 850.487.1395.
4. Submit Application and Fees
If not applying online – Mail the completed application and fees to:
Division of Hotels and Restaurants
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0783
Most applications are processed within a couple of weeks, but please allow 3-6 weeks for application processing when submitting by mail. For a faster experience apply online if available.
5. Opening Inspection
Each new license requires a satisfactory opening inspection except vacation rentals. If you have submitted your application and fees, have not heard from us in thirty days and are ready to open your establishment please contact the DBPR Customer Contact Center at 850-487-1395 to request an inspection. Please contact us several business days prior to your opening date to schedule the inspection.
- Change of ownership applications do not require an inspection if the previous owner received a satisfactory inspection within 120 days before the application is processed. If there was no inspection within this time period, we will conduct the opening inspection after you legally become the new owner.
- Inspectors do not routinely conduct pre-opening or courtesy inspections. Do not call to schedule an opening inspection unless you are absolutely ready to open.
- When opening a newly built, converted or reopened establishment, do not begin to rent units or serve food to the public until obtaining a satisfactory inspection and a license to operate.
- Have proof of other approvals onsite, such as building, electrical, fire, plumbing, etc.
6. License Renewals
Public food service and lodging establishment licenses must be renewed on an annual basis. The division attempts to remind licensees prior to their license expiring if the mailing address on file is accurate. It is the responsibility of the licensee to forward the renewal notice with the appropriate fee to the division. Operators who do not renew by the expiration date, regardless of receipt of notice, are regarded as operating without a license and subject to administrative actions by the division. Additionally, Florida law allows the division to assess an additional $50 late fee if the license is renewed after the expiration date.
Florida law requires the division to perform a sanitary and safety inspection on every public food service and lodging establishment periodically throughout the year. See our inspections webpage for more information.
REQUIREMENTS OF OTHER GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES
In addition to obtaining a food or lodging license, we urge all applicants to make sure they comply with all other federal, state, and local requirements. These include:
8. County and Municipality Requirements
Regulations vary among counties and municipalities, and requirements from both may apply to your business. Before making any significant financial commitment, such as signing a lease or construction contract, contact the separate Occupational License, Zoning, and Building authorities for your desired location. Ask each for detailed requirements on opening or transferring ownership of a food or lodging business. Contact information for these departments is in the “government” section of your local telephone book, or available on the Internet.
9. Sales Tax Registration Number
Obtain a Florida sales tax number or proof of exemption. Visit the Department of Revenue for further information.
10. Federal Employer Identification Number
Obtain a federal employer identification number (FEIN). Contact the U. S. Internal Revenue Service at: https://www.irs.gov for a FEIN application.
11. Alcoholic Beverage Application
If you intend to sell alcoholic beverages, contact your local DBPR, Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, district office for an application. If approved, a DHR inspector will also perform a beverage inspection in conjunction with the opening inspection. Beverage licenses will not be issued to public food service establishments without a passed inspection and a license number assigned by the DHR. Send your completed application for a beverage license and a copy of your passed DBPR inspection form to the ABT district office in your area. Once you have received your beverage license, please provide the number and type of license to your DHR district office as soon as possible.
12. Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
The Internal Revenue Service assigns an ITIN to individuals who are not eligible for a social security number due to their status as an alien. Each ITIN begins with the number nine and is formatted in the same configuration as a social security number (900-00-0000). This number is available to alien operators upon the approval of their IRS form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number application. To obtain the form, contact the IRS or download the form from the Internet at: https://www.irs.gov.
All requests for public records, complaints, forms, and applications for licenses can be obtained by contacting the Customer Contact Center.
Rick Akin, Director
Division of Hotels and Restaurants
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1011