Guide to Opening a Business in The City of Miami

1. Before You Begin

Try our new eStart tool for Business Licensing Applications!  

NOTE: Read this guide before signing any lease, as property owners may or may not check your zoning category. It is possible for new business owners to enter into a lease for a business type they actually can not open in that zone. 

Determine what type of business you can open in your desired property/zone.
We strongly recommend meeting with our zoning departmentbefore moving forward on any permitting or construction, or applying for a Certificate of Use (CU - see below).

You can also determine your Transect Zone and uses with our online property search

Complete Any Property Work

  • Get permits for any building/construction desired, and complete your work.
  • Then, proceed with the following processes.

These pages offer a general guideline to opening a business. If you need additional information, our Economic Initiatives team created a more thorough and detailed resource guide. 

View Business Resource Guide(PDF, 4MB)


2. Overview

The main two items you need from The City in order to open a business in Miami are (in order):

1. Your Certificate of Use

You can only apply for a Certificate of Use after you've completed construction, if you are doing any work to your space. 

2. Your Business Tax Receipt

This process can take several months from beginning to end, depending on your type of use, inspections, and more.  If you follow this list thoroughly and in-order, your wait time will be significantly reduced.  

Food Trucks/Peddlers
If you are a Food Truck vendor or a peddler, you do not need to complete all of the following items.

View Miami's Food Truck Ordinance


3. What you Need for Zoning (Certificate of Use)

Review these steps before applying for your Certificate of Use (CU). 

Have you registered with the State of Florida Division of Corporation (SunBiz)? 
NOTE: If you're using your exact legal name as the business name, you don't need to register with SunBiz. 

Do you know your exact address, including floor and unit number?
We need the exact address shown on your plans.

Our GIS tool will help you verify the address. 

Have you checked the zoning category/use allowed for your address?
If you need further clarification, you can meet with our Zoning department or view the updated Miami21 Code.

Do you have a copy of the most recent Floor plan for your business?
You can get this from our Microfilm Department. You can do an online request for these which will save you time. 

If you are in a new building OR a building that has undergone construction, then you will need to show either a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) or a Certificate of Completion (CC) (whichever applies) in order to obtain your CU. 

If you have all of the above documents/procedures completed,

Apply for a Certificate of Use

4. What you Need for Code Compliance/Fire (Inspections)

After applying for a CU, part of the approval process includes Code and Fire inspections. The below guidelines will help you properly prepare and avoid delays. 

Have you paid for your Certificate of Use invoice?
You will not be able to schedule inspections until payment for your CU has cleared. 
NOTE: When making check payments there is a 14-day hold and it may take up to 14 days for your check to clear. Your inspection will not be marked as 'passed' until this payment has cleared, so we highly recommend waiting to schedule an inspection until this time.

You can pay online using the "Transaction ID" on your invoice. 

Pay Online

Checklist for a Successful Inspection

Our Code and Fire Departments have identified common mistakes that can slow or halt the CU process. Please review the below to avoid these mistakes. 

  • When scheduling your inspections, you will need to provide a valid point of contact for the person who will be present during the inspection. If you have provided a non-working phone number or a contact who will not be at the property during the inspection, your inspection will be delayed.
  • If you got a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) or a Certificate of Completion (CC), you need to have this on-hand, as well as your floor plans. 
  • If you require an Occupant Load (restaurants, night clubs, places of assembly), you need to show a floor plan. We recommend you have your floor plan ready. While it's not required for all inspections, if the inspector cannot verify your square footage/occupancy load, you will not pass inspection.
  • Is your business completely ready to operate? You will not pass a code inspection if your business is not ready to operate that day. (i.e. A beauty salon without hair dryers will fail inspection, a restaurant without a finalized kitchen will fail inspection, etc.).  Do not set up an inspection before this time. 
  • Do you have a service contract with a solid waste hauler company? If you have not set up garbage pick-up for your business,  Provided isa list of city-approved private haulers who you can do this with. You must have trash pick-up in place before scheduling inspection.
    NOTE: A majority of code inspections that fail, do so because the owner hasn't contracted a hauler. 
  • If you are a renter, make sure you have a copy of your space lease agreement. 

If you've completed the above, go ahead and schedule your code and fire inspections.

Schedule a Code Inspection

Schedule a Fire Inspection

You will also need to schedule an in-person DERM inspection before returning to the Office of Zoning for final approval of the Certificate of Use.

5. What you Need for Your Business Tax Receipt (BTR)

The last step to opening a new business is getting a Business Tax Receipt (BTR).

You must provide a copy of your completed Certificate of Use.
Exception: Peddlers, Food Trucks, or if you do not have a physical location in the City of Miami, but you are doing business here.

You must provide the Federal Employee Identification Number (EIN) for your Business.
Your Social Security Number is acceptable if you're using your legal name as your business name. 

If this is for a hotel, restaurant, or convenience store, do you have the proper State of Florida Licensing?

If your BTR is State-regulated, the following are required, if applicable:

  • State License for Business
  • State License for each Professional
  • Social Security Number for each Professional
  • Government-Issued Photo Identification
  • Notarized City Affidavit

If you've completed all of the above,

Apply for a Business Tax Receipt.