Guide to Opening a Business with eStart

1. Before You Begin

IMPORTANT NOTE IF YOU ARE LEASING: To protect your business, be sure to read this guide before signing any lease.  The responsibility of checking an allowed business type falls on the business owner (you) not the property owner (landlord). For example, if you lease space from a landlord with the intention of opening a restaurant, you must confirm that restaurant usage is allowed at that location - this will not be done by the property owner on your behalf. 

We share this warning, because it is possible for new business owners to unknowingly 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.

Our new zoning tool makes it very easy to see what type of businesses are allowed in what location(s).  Enter your business type and address to find your matching land use and zoning regulations.

     Use our New Zoning Tool

  • Ensure Construction Work is Complete Before Applying for CU/BTR

These pages offer a general guideline to opening a business. Our Economic Initiatives team also created a helpful resource guide that you might want to review. 

View Business Resource Guide(PDF, 4MB)

2. Overview

The two licenses you need in order to open a new business in The City of Miami are a Certificate of Use and a Business Tax Receipt.

If you need step-by-step instructions for either of these applications, you can view those on our Certificate of Use/Business Tax Receipt Guide.  When you're ready to apply for either or both, use our new tool.

Apply for CU/BTR

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.  

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

View Miami's Food Truck Ordinance

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

If you need a Certificate of Use, review the steps in our CU Guide.  Important tips to consider:

  • Do you know your exact address, including floor and unit number? Have you checked the zoning category/use allowed for your address?
    We need the exact address shown on your plans.

    Our new zoning tool will help you verify your address and uses. 
  • 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 have all of the above documents/procedures completed, when you're ready, apply using eStart. 

Apply for a CU/BTR

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

If you're 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 is a 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)

If you do not need a CU (or you applied for one before the eStart launch), you still need to apply for a Business Tax Receipt (BTR) in order to open a business. You can do so using our new eStart system. 

: If you haven't started the CU process and do need one, you can apply for both CU & BTR at the same time.  

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, make sure 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, use our new tool to apply. 

Apply for a Business Tax Receipt