8 Steps to Start a Tampa Business:

If you’re ready to form a business in Tampa, but you’re not quite sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. We’ll go over business registration, how to get a City of Tampa business license, business tax, and more.

Famous for its bustling metro center and white beaches, Tampa holds a variety of business opportunities in industries like manufacturing, financial and information services, tourism and maritime trade, and the tax burden is relatively low. Let’s get started:

  1. File Formation Paperwork
  2. Apply for an EIN
  3. Register any DBAs (Fictitious Names)
  4. Submit a Beneficial Ownership Information Report
  5. Register for Florida State Taxes
  6. Get a Business Tax Receipt
  7. Obtain any Required Licenses
  8. Acquire any Required Zoning Permits

1. File Formation Paperwork

So, you’ve got a brilliant idea, and you’re ready to start a business in Tampa—what do you do now?

If you don’t know already, you’ve got to decide what type of business you want to create and file formation paperwork with the Florida Division of Corporations. The only instance in which you don’t need to file formation paperwork is if you form a sole proprietorship (however, you may still need to register a DBA).

For small business owners, the choice is often a Florida LLC. An LLC offers the advantages of personal asset protection, pass-through taxation, and a flexible management structure. You can form an LLC by filing Articles of Organization through Sunbiz.org and paying the $125 fee.

You can review your options using the Division of Corporation’s explanation of types of business entities/structures.

Considering an LLC or corporation for your Tampa business?

Compare filing on your own to hiring our expert local registered agents to form your LLC or corporation

DIY Business Formation

Pay only the Florida state fees and use our guide to set up your company.

  • $70 Corporation/ $125 LLC
  • May add our $49/year registered agent service
  • Business owners must write or purchase their own operating agreements or bylaws
  • Business owners must get their own domain names and websites
  • Business owners must use their personal phone number or purchase an additional line

Hire Your Registered Agent Today!

Our Business Formation Service

Hire us to save time, effort, and possibly money. Includes:

  • $49/year registered agent service
  • Option to use our address on public records
  • State filing fees
  • Article preparation and submission
  • Attorney-drafted operating agreement or corporate bylaws
  • Expert Florida business support for the life of your business
  • Official state approved articles sent to us, and stored securely online indefinitely
  • Domain name, open-source website, email, and phone service to make your business look professional

All this for $49 registered agent + state fees + $100

Do I need a Florida registered agent?

Florida’s a little funky when it comes to business registration and registered agents. All business entities except sole proprietorships must register with the state. However, while LLCS, corporations, and limited partnerships (LPs) are required to have a Florida registered agent, general partnerships and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) are not.

2. Apply for an EIN

A good next step is getting your Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, which you’ll need to file federal taxes. You’ll also often have to supply your EIN when applying for a business bank account and, sometimes, for licenses, permits, or local taxes.

While sole proprietors and single-member LLCs have the option to use their social security numbers, multi-member LLCs, corporations, and all businesses with employees must get an EIN.

How do I get my EIN?

You can get your EIN online fairly quickly and easily using the IRS’s EIN Assistant. However, if you prefer to mail in an application or call in, there are many ways to apply for an EIN.

3. Register any DBAs (Fictitious Names)

Many business owners, especially sole proprietors, choose to use a DBA (“doing business as” name), known as a fictitious name in Florida.

According to Florida state law, any sole proprietor doing business under a name that doesn’t include their full name must register a DBA. For example, while operating under “John Lopez, Private Chef” wouldn’t require a DBA, using a name like “Lopez Private Chef Services” or “Hourglass Personal Nutrition” would.

LLCs and corporations often use a DBA to start a new business line or rebrand without having to register a whole new business. For example, with a DBA, “Sunshine Party Planners, LLC” could branch out as “Gasparilla Party Trolley.”

Do I need to register my DBA/fictitious name in Florida?

To legally use a fictitious name in Florida, you must register it with the state.

How do I register a DBA/fictitious name?

To register your fictitious name, you need to:

  1. Choose a name that is available. You can check name availability using the Florida Fictitious Name Database.
  2. Publish a notice of your intent to adopt a fictitious name in a newspaper in Hillsborough County. Publication rates vary. The Tampa Bay Times charges $55 to publish a notice of up to 12 lines in its Hillsborough run.
  3. File an Application for Registration of Fictitious Name with the Division of Corporations. You can submit a paper application or file your fictitious name registration online through Sunbiz. The filing fee is $50.

If you hire us to form your LLC or corporation, we can take care of your Florida fictitious name filing for you for $125 plus state and local fees. You can order DBA filing service from inside your client account.

4. Submit a Beneficial Ownership Information Report

Starting January 1st, 2024, businesses formed at the state level (in Florida, all businesses except sole proprietorships) are required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) report. The BOI report is a federal filing that must be submitted to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Aimed at reducing fraud and other financial crimes, the BOI report contains basic information about your company and the people with the most power over business decisions and profits. However, unlike state filings, the information contained in this report doesn’t go on the public record. There are some filing exemptions for businesses in already highly regulated fields.

How do I file a BOI report?

BOI reports must be filed online using the FinCEN database. There’s no cost to file.

What are the BOI report due dates?

  • Businesses formed on or after January 1st, 2024: Within 30 days of formation
  • Businesses formed before 2024: January 1st, 2025

What information is required on my BOI report?

For your company, you’ll need to disclose:

  • Legal business name and DBAs/fictitious names
  • Principal business address
  • Tax ID (SSN or EIN)
  • Jurisdiction of formation

For beneficial owners and company applicants, you must list:

  • Full legal name
  • Birth date
  • Residential address
  • Copy of ID (driver’s license, passport)

Beneficial owner: Any person who owns 25% or more of your company or who has substantial control over business operations (for example, corporate officer or LLC member-manager).

Company applicant: The person(s) responsible for filing formation documents. This information is not required for businesses formed prior to 2024.

5. Register for Florida State Taxes

Registering to pay your Florida state taxes is your next step, particularly if you’ll need to collect and pay sales tax. Most Tampa businesses that sell goods or services (including rental and repairs services) must pay a combined 7.5% sales tax—6% for the state and 1.5% for Hillsborough County.

You won’t have to worry about state income tax since Florida doesn’t collect it, but if you own a corporation, you will need to pay a 5.5% corporate tax on all your profits exceeding $50,000.

It’s also possible that you’ll have to pay additional taxes based on your industry. For example, dry cleaners must pay a 2% Florida Gross Receipts Tax on Dry-Cleaning Facilities.

How do I register to pay Florida state taxes?

Online tax registration is available through the Department of Revenue’s e-Services Enrollment portal. You can also find out what information you’ll need to collect before registering and what steps to take after, thanks to the Department’s account registration informational page.

How do I know if I need to collect Florida sales tax?

If you’re not sure about whether or not you need to pay sales tax, you can check the complete list of qualifying businesses on the Department’s Florida Sales and Use Tax page. Additionally, if you’re an online retailer making more than $100,000 in annual remote sales, you must pay sales tax on that income.

How do I determine which state taxes I need to pay?

One way to figure out which taxes you must pay is through the Department of Revenue’s Taxpayer Education guides and tutorials, which contain a New Business Startup Kit.

Another way is by using the Business Information Portal at OpenMyFloridaBusiness.gov. You can search or browse for your business type (for example, “publishing”). Under the information included about starting your business, there will be a list of the taxes you may be required to pay.

6. Get a Business Tax Receipt

Hillsborough County requires all businesses operating within the county to obtain a Business Tax Receipt from the Hillsborough County Tax Collector.

You’ll also have to get a local Business Tax Receipt for the City of Tampa through the Business Tax Division.

How can I get a Business Tax Receipt?

You can apply for a Hillsborough Business Tax Receipt online using BTExpress. The portal will lead you through a series of questions to determine the documentation you’ll need to provide to get your receipt.

For Tampa Business Tax Receipts, you can apply with the Tampa.Gov New Business Tax Receipt Application.

How much does a Business Tax Receipt cost?

The cost of your Business Tax Receipt will depend on the type of business you own. As an example, for Hillsborough receipts, contractors will pay $18-468.75 (based on how many employees they have), a pawnbroker will pay $337.50, and a hotel will pay $1.50 per room. Tampa taxes also vary. For instance, an advertising agency must pay $243.09, plus $17.35 for each worker, while a DJ must pay $115.76.

Does my Business Tax Receipt need to be renewed?

Yes. Your Business Tax Receipts will expire on September 30th each year. You can renew anytime on or after July 1st.

Are there any Business Tax Receipt exemptions?

There are several Hillsborough Business Tax Receipt exemptions, such as veterans of the US armed forces and qualifying seniors.

What other local taxes will I need to pay?

You may also be required to pay:

7. Obtain any Required Licenses

There’s no general Florida business license, Hillsborough County business license, or City of Tampa business license.

However, depending on the type of work you do, you may need to obtain a professional or industry-specific license to remain in compliance with Florida law. All these licenses are issued through the state agencies, such as the Department of Health or Agriculture & Consumer Services. For instance, as an event caterer, you’d need a catering license and possibly a liquor license from the Department of Business & Professional Regulation.

There are also several Hillsborough County licenses required for select occupations and businesses, including contractors, childcare workers, and pain management clinics.

How do I find out which licenses my business needs?

To determine which licenses you may be required to get, you can refer to the Florida Business Information Portal. Within the portal, you can search for specific business types (“Dentist” or “Attorney”) or browse business categories (“Transportation” or “Publishing, Movies, Television, Radio, Data, and Communications”) to find a checklist of requirements that applies to your business, including required licenses and where to get them.

How do I get a professional or industry license/permit in Florida?

You can get professional and industry-specific licenses/permits through the state agency that regulates your field. For example, to become a Certified Pest Control Operator, you’ll have to get licensed through the Department of Agriculture & Consumers Services’ Division of Agricultural Environmental Services ($300 plus $10 for an ID).

The three main licensing agencies in Florida are:

To explore the agencies within these departments, you can also refer to the Department of State’s list of state agency homepages.

How do I get a Hillsborough County business license?

You can apply for a county-level license through the county government agency that oversees your industry, as listed on the Hillsborough County Business Licensing & Regulation site.

How do I get a contractor’s license in Hillsborough County?

To legally do business as a contractor in Hillsborough County, you need to get a contractor’s license. You’ll need to file an application and get that application approved by the licensing board, pay all required fees ($50 application initiation fee and $230 after application acceptance), and pass the state Experior Assessments Examination. You can review all the steps required to apply for a Hillsborough County Contractor License on the county’s website and submit your application online through the HillsGovHub portal.

Do I need a City of Tampa business license?

No—Tampa doesn’t issue a general City of Tampa business license. However, if you plan on selling fireworks within Tampa city limits, you will need to get a City Occupational License from the Fire Marshall.

8. Acquire any Required Zoning Permits

One more thing you’ll need to do before opening shop is make sure that you obey zoning laws and obtain all necessary zoning permits. For instance, if you operate a bed and breakfast located in a residential zone, you’ll probably need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit ($428.12).

If you’re constructing a new building or making changes to an existing building, you’ll have to get both county- and city-level permits, which can run up into the thousands of dollars.

How do I find out which zoning permits I need?

Hillsborough County provides Zoning Information & Counseling, including access to the Hillsborough County Map Viewer, Permit Fees, and dedicated zoning counselors. You can submit a Zoning Information Request online or by phone.

In the City of Tampa, you can contact Construction Services about Commercial Permits, generally required for new constructions, additions, or alterations. Construction Services’ Permit Fee Estimator can also help you figure out the cost.

How do I obtain zoning permits?

For Hillsborough County permits, you can apply online using the PGM Store. You can find downloadable applications using the county’s list of Zoning Applications & Forms.

Tampa permit applications must be submitted through Tampa Construction Services.

Do I need a permit for my home-based business?

Probably not. Generally, home-based businesses do not need to obtain any zoning permits. You’ll only need a permit if Conditional or Special Use permit is required by the nature of your business—for example, running a dog kennel on your property.

Tampa Business Resources

Prepare yourself to do business with valuable business resources based in the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County.

Getting your business started:

Resources for growth:

Getting work with Hillsborough County or the City of Tampa:


Plus State fees


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