Division of Hotels & Restaurants

Individuals seeking to open a restaurant or similar establishment offering food and beverage services for sale in the State of Florida must first obtain a Permanent Food Service License from the Division of Hotels & Restaurants. The Division is under the governance of the Department of Business & Professional Regulation and is charged with application matters, enforcement of safety standards and inspections of licensed premises. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements and then file an application and plan review, including proper service fees, in order to obtain the Permanent Food Service License. However, before opening for business, license holders must also schedule and pass an Opening Inspection of the premises.

Obtaining a license

Under Florida law, owners of new establishments and new owners of existing establishments, who serve food and beverages to the public, must obtain a Permanent Food Service License before beginning operations.


In order to qualify for a Permanent Food Service License, the establishment must be a fixed public structure that accommodates patrons for the consumption of food on the premises. Before filing the application, owners must provide details regarding the number of seats so that processing fees can be calculated.

Plan Review

Certain candidates for a Permanent Food Service License must submit a Plan Review as part of the application process. This requirement applies to those public food establishments that will be:

  • New construction;
  • Conversion from another use;
  • Remodeled; or,
  • Re-opened after being closed for one year.

The Division will assess the Plan Review and may issue an approval if all details are in order. However, the applicant for a Permanent Food Service License must wait for approval before engaging in any construction or other changes. There is a processing fee of $150 to initiate the Plan Review process.

Application for Permanent Food Service License

Candidates for credentials must obtain and complete an application, which includes the following information:

  • Name and address of all owners and/or partners;
  • Address of the physical establishment;
  • Social Security or Federal Employer Identification Number; and,
  • Other basic identification information.

Candidates who wish to complete their application online must have already completed the Plan Review process in order to do so. The application must be submitted along with a $50 filing fee and licensing fee, which is calculated according to the number of seats in the establishment that will be covered by the license.

License renewal

Permanent Food Service License holders must renew their licenses annually in order to remain in good standing with the Division. The date of renewal depends upon the county where the establishment is located, with each county being assigned to one of seven districts.

  • District 1: October 1
  • District 2: December 1
  • District 3: February 1
  • District 4: April 1
  • District 5: June 1
  • District 6: June 1
  • District 7: December 1

The license renewal fee again depends upon the number of seats in the establishment that the license covers.

Opening Inspection

Even upon receiving a license for Permanent Food Service, a license holder cannot legally begin food and beverage sales without first arranging for an Opening Inspection. The licensee must contact the Division to schedule the inspection after submitting the application for a Permanent Food Service License and plan review, but it’s not necessary to wait for the approval to make inspection arrangements. The inspection will cover sanitation and safety conditions throughout the premises, including but not limited to the food preparation and bar areas, public seating rooms and restrooms.