Florida offers an excellent business environment for restaurants. The state combines a tax-friendly profile, pro-business policies, and a massive number of consumers willing to taste the best cuisines in the world.
In this article, you will find out which businesses require a restaurant license and how to apply for licensing in Florida.
Who Needs a Restaurant License in Florida? – As Provided by Law
If you want to open an establishment to serve food to customers in Florida, you must apply for a restaurant license.
Florida Statutes §509.013(5)(a) defines the term “public food service establishment” as “any building, vehicle, place, or structure, or any room or division in a building, vehicle, place, or structure where food is:
- Prepared, served, or sold for immediate consumption on or in the vicinity of the premises,
- Called for or taken out by customers,
- or prepared prior to being delivered to another location for consumption”
The same statute adds that “the term includes a culinary education program, as defined in Fla. Stat. §381.0072(2), which offers, prepares, serves, or sells food to the general public, regardless of whether it is inspected by another state agency for compliance with sanitation standards.”
You will need to apply for a restaurant license if you are opening a new establishment to serve food or are the new owner of an existing restaurant.
The government body responsible for regulating and licensing the hospitality industry within the state is the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). To apply for a license, you must submit the appropriate forms to DBPR’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
Applying for Restaurant License in Florida
Application for Plan Review
Florida law requires the Division of Hotels and Restaurants to review the applicant’s restaurant facility plans to ensure adequate safety and sanitation. A plan review is required when the applicant’s establishment is:
- Newly built
- Converted from another use
- Remodeled, or
- Re-opened after being closed for at least one year
The application form is Form DBPR-7005 (Division of Hotels and Restaurants Application for Plan Review). Filling out Form DBPR-7005 can be a demanding experience, as it requires the applicant to draw the establishment’s floor plan and provide an extensive list of information including:
- A sample menu
- Water (and wastewater) information
- Equipment specifications
The application fee of $150 is payable only by check or money order to the Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
Application for Public Food Service Establishment License
Once the plan review is complete, restaurant owners applying for licensing in Florida must file Form DBPR HR-7007 (Application for Public Food Service Establishment License) with the Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
- Applicants must meet an extensive list of applications requirements, including:
- Florida Sales Tax Number (or proof of exemption)
- The applicant’s Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Social Security Number
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (If applicable)
- Plan review
After filling out Form DBPR HR-7007, you must submit it to the Division of Hotels and Restaurants with the applicable fee. Applicants must pay a licensing fee plus a $50 one-time processing fee, payable only with a check or money order.
Application for New Alcoholic Beverage License
If you want to serve alcoholic beverages in your restaurant, you must apply for a liquor license with the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. To apply, you must file Form DBPR ABT-6001 and meet the county zoning requirements.