Division of Hotels and Restaurants
Food Service and Lodging Licensing FAQ
All information on this page is current and was last reviewed by the division on May 16, 2013.
General information on the division's regulatory authority is available in the Complaint FAQs.
1. Q: I just bought/built a restaurant (lodging). What do I do to get a license?
A: Click our APPLY link for requirements or contact the Customer Contact Center at: 850.487.1395 for more information.
2. Q: I own and operate a public food service establishment located in a hospital. Do I need a license from the Division of Hotels and Restaurants?
A: Yes. If your public food service establishment is located in a hospital, but is owned and operated independent from the hospital, you will need to apply for a public food service establishment license and may need to complete plan review.
3. How much does a restaurant/lodging license cost?
A: The license fee is based on the type of food service or lodging and the number of units/seats. Contact the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395 for the correct amount of your license fee. License fee calculators are available on the division's website. There is a charge for Plan Review,currently $150.00, due when plans are submitted. In addition to the license fee, an application-processing fee of $50.00 must accompany each application for a new establishment or change of ownership. There may also be city or county fees for business licenses and other local charges. Contact your county and city governments for this information.
4. Q. How long does it take to get my license/certificate of operation once I pay?
A: Allow 30 days. To verify receipt of your payment, you can look up your application status online or contact the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395.
5. Q: Are there any other requirements for license besides the application and payment?
A: Yes. New and remodeled food service establishments must apply for a plan review. The division must approve your plans before a license can be approved. In addition, the division requires most food service and lodging establishments to be inspected before we can approve the license. After plan review is complete and the license application and fees have been processed, the division will contact you to schedule an opening inspection. Please make sure the facility is ready for opening before scheduling this inspection. If you do not hear from us within 30 days of applying or if you have an urgent need to open earlier, you may call the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395 to schedule your inspection.
6. Q: Are there exceptions to the opening inspection requirement?
A: Yes. Applications for resort condominiums and resort dwellings do not require an opening inspection. In addition, if you are applying for a change of ownership of an existing establishment, not extensively remodeling and the previous owner received a routine inspection within 120 days of the date you send us your application, we do not require another inspection for you to open. In the above cases, we will send you your license after the completed application, supporting documents and fees are received and processed.
7. Q: How do I renew my restaurant or lodging license?
A: Licenses are renewed annually. The licensee is responsible for renewal of the license prior to the expiration date given on the license. Reminder notices are sent approximately 45 days prior to the expiration date of the license. For further information, contact the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395.
If you have overdue fines or fail to pay on a payment plan, your license renewal may be denied until the fines are paid. More information on license renewal denial is available in the Fine Payments FAQ.
8. Q: How can I get a duplicate restaurant or lodging license?
A: Mail or fax a request for a duplicate to the Bureau of Field Services, Licensure Office, at 1940 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1011, fax: 850.922.8846. Be sure to include the license number, business name and business address of the establishment on your request. The division does not charge a fee for duplicate licenses.
9. Q: Where do I send payment for my restaurant/lodging license?
A: If you are renewing a license, you may send payment to Division of Hotels & Restaurants, 1940 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0783. Be sure to include the license number on the check or money order. For a new establishment or a change of ownership, contact the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395 or follow the directions on the food service or lodging application packet to apply for a license.
10. Q: How do I change the classification of my lodging license?
A: Call the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395.
11. Q: How do I increase/decrease the number of seats/units on my restaurant license?
A: If you are remodeling your food service establishment, you will probably need a plan review. If you are simply adding seats, you will need to have the Seating Change Evaluation form or its equivalent completed by local authorities and send it to your local district office. For other questions, please call the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395.
12. Q: How do I increase/decrease the number of units on my lodging license?
A: For vacation rentals, send a list of the units included under the license to your local district office. For HUD-inspected elderly housing, submit DBPR HR-7032, Attestation for Exclusion from Public Lodging Establishment License to the address on the form. For other types of lodging, please fax the change to 850.921.8267 or call the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395.
13. Q: Can I get a report that lists the licensed restaurants/lodging in an area?
A: Database extracts are available on the division's website. You may download the numerous reports available at that location.
14. Q: How can I correct the business or mailing information on my license?
A: If you are currently renewing a license, you may indicate changes or corrections on your renewal application. Otherwise, mail or fax your corrections to the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, 1940 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1011, fax 850.922.8846. Be sure to include the license number and location address of the establishment on your request. Go to MyFloridaLicense.com to correct or change the business address, or call the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395 for assistance with a change to a business name or owner information.
15. Q: How can I change my license location address?
A: Licenses cannot be transferred to a new location. You must APPLY for a new license. If your new license location is new, you are remodeling or the restaurant has been closed for more than twelve months, you must also APPLY for plan review. If your new license location is an existing food service establishment that has been in operation within the previous twelve months and you are not making any changes to the establishment or equipment, then plan review is not required.
If the U.S. Postal Service has changed your existing address, please notify the division in writing to: Division of Hotels and Restaurants, Licensure Office, 1940 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1011. Be sure to let us know that this change does not affect the physical location of your establishment.
16. Q: How can I change my commissary location address?
A: Mail a written request to change your commissary location address to the appropriate district office. The district office must verify your new commissary location is properly licensed or permitted. If your new commissary location is not properly licensed or permitted, you must find a new commissary that is licensed or permitted, or the commissary must obtain a license or permit, which may include completing plan review. More information on commissaries is available in the Mobile Food Dispensing Vehicles, Hot Dog Carts and Commissaries FAQs.
17. Q: I just bought a restaurant that has a current food service license from DBPR. Can I operate under the previous owner's food service license?
A: No. Food service licenses cannot be transferred to a new owner. You must APPLY for a license by submitting an application for a change of owner. If you are remodeling or the restaurant has been closed for more than twelve months, you must APPLY for plan review first.
18. Q: How do I apply for the $50 licensee fee reduction available to disabled veterans?
A. Submit to the division a copy of your DD214 as proof of honorable discharge and documentation that you are disabled. Once we receive sufficient documentation, we will reduce your license fee and future license renewals by $50, as allowed by Florida law.
A: Effective October 1, 2012, the division no longer inspects apartment buildings that are currently inspected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are designated primarily as housing for persons at least 62 years old (elderly housing).
This exemption only applies to individual apartment buildings, not entire apartment complexes. The division still licenses and inspects any apartment building that is not inspected by HUD and designated as elderly housing.
20. Q: How do I apply for the exclusion for my HUD-inspected apartment buildings that are designated as elderly housing?
A: To apply for this exemption, complete form DBPR HR-7032, Attestation for Exclusion from Public Lodging Establishment License, and return it to the address on the form.
If all of the buildings in the complex meet the exclusion criteria, you may choose "Full Exclusion" and the division will not license or inspect your entire complex.
If only some of the buildings in your apartment complex meet the exclusion criteria, you may choose “Partial Exclusion” and the division will only license and inspect the buildings that are not inspected by HUD and designated as elderly housing.
21. Q: What happens if my apartment complex no longer qualifies for a full exclusion as HUD-inspected elderly housing?
A: If your apartment complex no longer qualifies for a “Full Exclusion”, you must APPLY for a new license.
If some of the buildings in your apartment complex still meet the exclusion criteria, you must submit DBPR HR-7032, Attestation for Exclusion from Public Lodging Establishment License, with your license application to obtain a “Partial Exclusion”. The division will only license and inspect the buildings that are not inspected by HUD and designated as elderly housing.
22. Q: What happens if my apartment buildings no longer qualify for a partial exclusion as HUD-inspected elderly housing?
A: You must submit a new attestation if any of your apartment buildings no longer qualify for a “Partial Exclusion”. Complete DBPR HR-7032, Attestation for Exclusion from Public Lodging Establishment License, and indicate only the buildings, if any, that still qualify for the exclusion. The division will adjust the number of units on your license and begin inspecting the buildings that are not inspected by HUD and designated as elderly housing.