8 Steps to Start a Jacksonville Business:

 

Dive into all the details on starting a Jacksonville business, including business registration, getting a Jacksonville business license, and accessing community resources. Whether you’re a small business owner in the tourism industry or an entrepreneur intent on making it big in tech, the vibrant city of Jacksonville, Florida offers a wide range of opportunities across business sectors.

1. File Formation Paperwork

2. Apply for an EIN

3. Register any DBAs (Fictitious Names)

4. File Beneficial Ownership Information Report

5. Register for Florida State Taxes

6. Get a Local Business Tax Receipt

7. Obtain any Required Licenses and Permits

8. Acquire a Certificate of Use

+ Jacksonville Business Resources

1. File Formation Paperwork

 

When starting a business in Jacksonville, your first step will probably be filing formation paperwork with the Florida Division of CorporationsFlorida LLCs file Articles of Organization ($125) and Florida corporations file Articles of Incorporation ($70). As part of your filing, you’ll need to appoint a Florida registered agent who will be listed on your articles.

You won’t need to register with the state if you’re forming a sole proprietorship. However, if you’re trying to choose between starting a sole proprietorship and an LLC, remember that a sole proprietorship doesn’t offer the personal asset protection or tax advantages that come from owning an LLC.

Considering an LLC or corporation for your Jacksonville business?

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DIY Business Formation

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

  • $70 Corporation/ $125 LLC
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  • 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

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  • 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

Form an LLC $274
Form a Corp $219

 

2. Apply for an EIN

 

To file your federal taxes, you’ll need a federal tax ID. You can use your social security number if you’re a sole proprietor or single-member LLC. However, most businesses will need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). For example, the IRS requires corporations, multi-member LLCs, and all businesses with employees to get an EIN.

It’s a good idea to get your EIN right after registering your business because you’ll likely need to provide your EIN in order to obtain certain licenses and permits, pay local business taxes, and open a business bank account.

How do I get an EIN?

There are many ways to apply for an EIN, but the easiest way is online using the IRS’s EIN Assistant. Getting an EIN is free.

3. Register any DBAs (Fictitious Names)

 

Using a DBA, or “doing business as” name, is common practice for all types of businesses. Sole proprietors often adopt a fictitious name to avoid doing business under their own legal names (in Florida, unless the name of your sole proprietorship includes your full name, you must get a DBA). LLCs and corporations also  frequently use DBAs to rebrand or expand into a new line of business without having to form an entirely new business entity.

A Florida DBA isn’t a business on its own—it’s just an alias for your business, making it possible for you to operate under a name that’s different from your legal business name. For example, you may run a bed-and-breakfast in Neptune Beach under the name “Trident Cottage,” even though the legal name of your business is Vegarosa Rentals.

Is registration required for fictitious names in Florida?

Yes. In Florida, DBAs are called fictitious names. If you use one, you’ll need to register that name with the Division of Corporations. Fictitious name registration protects consumers by allowing them to figure out exactly who they’re doing business with.

How do I register my fictitious name?

The Florida DBA registration process involves three basic steps:

Our LLC and corporation clients can also hire us from inside their client accounts to file their Florida DBAs for $125 plus state and local fees.

4. Submit a Beneficial Ownership Information Report

 

Businesses registered at the state level, like LLCs and corporations, typically need to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) (there are a few exemptions). Starting January 1st, 2024, these businesses must provide the federal government with basic information about their company and those with the most influence over business decisions.

How do I file my BOI report?

You can file your BOI report for free online through FinCEN. The information you share is not made available to the public.

What information is required on my BOI report?

For your company, you’ll need to disclose your:

  • Legal business name
  • Any DBA names
  • Business address
  • Jurisdiction of formation
  • Tax ID

Additionally, for anyone who owns 25% or more of your company and/or who exercises substantial control over business operations (for example, a corporate officer or LLC member-manager), you must list:

  • Full legal names
  • Residential address
  • Birth date
  • Copy of ID

If your company is created on or after January 1st, 2024, you’ll need to include the same information for the individual(s) responsible for company formation.

When is my BOI report due?

  • New businesses created on or after January 1st, 2024 must file within 30 days of formation
  • Businesses formed before 2024 must file before January 1st, 2025

5. Register for Florida State Taxes

 

Although there’s no state income tax in Florida, there is a 6% sales tax for all businesses involved in the sales of taxable items and services. Duval County charges an additional 1.5%, so in total, your Jacksonville business will need to collect and pay a 7.5% sales tax.

Corporations also need to pay a 5.5% corporate tax on all profits over $50,000.

Depending on your industry, you may also have to pay additional taxes. For example, if you plan on selling aviation fuel to small private airports, you’ll need to pay the Florida Fuel Tax.

How do I register for Florida state taxes?

You can register to pay Florida state taxes online using the Department of Revenue’s e-Services Enrollment portal. The Department also provides detailed information on account registration (for example, the information you need to register and what to do after registering) that you can review before starting the registration process.

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

Generally, any business selling goods or offering services (including rentals, operating vending machines, and even manufacturing goods) must pay sales tax. You can find a more complete list of qualifying businesses on the Department’s Florida Sales and Use Tax page.

How do I figure out which state taxes I need to pay?

To figure out which state taxes you need to pay, you can visit the Florida Business Information Portal at OpenMyFloridaBusiness.gov and search for the type of business you’d like to start (you can also browse business categories). The portal will provide you with a list of the taxes you may be required to pay.

You can also refer to the Department of Revenue’s Taxpayer Education guides and tutorials, including a New Business Start-up Kit.

6. Get a Local Business Tax Receipt

 

If you’re doing business in Jacksonville, you’re on the hook for local business taxes. You’ll need to obtain a Local Business Tax Receipt from the Duval County Tax Collector.

All businesses large and small that provide merchandise, services, or entertainment to the public must have a Local Business Tax (LBT) Receipt. So, even if you’re just a sole proprietor who makes money teaching guitar lessons, you’re required to have a receipt.

Additionally, if your company operates in multiple locations, you’ll need a receipt for each place of business. You’ll also need to get separate receipts for each type of work your business conducts that falls into a different tax classification. If your company performs work in three different tax classifications, you must get three receipts (one for each classification).

Your LBT receipt must be clearly displayed within view of the public at your place of business, and you are subject to inspection by county tax officers at any time

How do I get an LBT Receipt?

You can register for local taxes and get your LBT receipt online through the BTExpress portal.

The tax collector’s office also provides a Local Business Tax Information Sheet that lists the items required to apply for an LBT Receipt and contact information for relevant tax and licensing agencies.

How do I find my tax classification code?

To find your tax classification code, use the Jacksonville/Duval County list of Local Business Tax Occupations Codes.

How much will I pay for my LBT receipt?

The annual tax varies widely, depending on the type of business you have. For example, restaurants with 10 or fewer seats pay $25 a year and retailers with less than $1000 in stock pay $31.25 a year. More seats or more stock increases your tax. Professional occupations tend to be between $50 and $200. For example, electrical contractors pay $100 a year and optometrists pay $150 a year.

You can calculate your local business tax rate using the Duval County Tax Collector’s Business Tax Receipt Calculator. You will need to know your county code, municipal code, or the name of your tax classification.

Do I need to renew my LBT receipt?

Yes. Your receipt is valid for one year and must renewed by September 30th each year. If you do not renew on time, your business is considered delinquent, and you may be subject to financial penalties.

You also need to notify the tax office to update your LBT receipt if your business changes its name, ownership, location, number of employees, or equipment/machinery.

Are there exemptions to the LBT Receipt?

There are several exemptions to the LBT Receipt, including veterans of the US armed forces who were honorably discharged and the spouses of those veterans. The tax collector’s website contains a full list of exemptions.

Will I need to pay any additional local taxes?

If applicable, you may need to pay additional local taxes in Duval County. These include:

  • Tangible Personal Property (TPP) Tax, which applies the furniture, fixtures, and equipment located on your business premises. For example, if you own a sawmill business, you may pay TPP tax on your sawmills and other tools.
  • Convention and Tourist Development Tax, which applies to the temporary rental or lease of accommodations. For example, if you run an Airbnb, you’ll need to pay this tax.
  • Public Service Tax, which applies to the sale of utilities such as electricity, water, and gas and fuel/oil. If you were to start a company providing natural gas to homes, you’d need to pay this tax.
  • Vendor Permits, which apply to businesses like street vendors and mobile food dispensing vehicles. If you operate an ice cream truck or a food truck, you’ll need a vendor permit.

Do I need to pay Jacksonville taxes?

The City of Jacksonville and Duval County share a government, so there are no city-level tax requirements beyond the county requirements.

7. Obtain any Required Licenses and Permits

 

Florida doesn’t issue a general business license. However, if you work in a field that requires specialized education or training, you may need a professional or industry-specific license, such as a medical license or a wetlands permit. Certain types of businesses also require special licenses or permits—for example, if you’re opening up a beachside bar, you’ll have to get a liquor license.

How do I get a Florida business license or permit?

To get a professional or industry-specific license or permit, you’ll need to go through the state agency in charge of regulating your field. For example, if you’re a real estate agent or a hairdresser, you’ll need to apply for your license through the Department of Business & Professional Regulation. However, if you’re a respiratory therapist looking to get licensed or if you need a food permit for a nursing home, you’ll go through the Department of Health.

There are three main licensing agencies in Florida:

You can also use this list of state agency homepages to find the agency you need.

How do I find out which licenses I need?

If you’re not sure which licenses you need, you can use the Florida Business Information Portal. Search or browse to find the type of business you want to open, and the portal will provide you with a list of possible required licenses and where to get them.

Do I need a Jacksonville business license?

Nope. There is no general Jacksonville business license or Duval County business license.

8. Get a Certificate of Use

 

Before you can start business operations, you need a Certificate of Use (COU). A COU verifies that your business space is compliant with local zoning ordinances, the Florida Fire Prevention Code, and the Florida Building Code. For example, say you’re opening a restaurant and want to offer outdoor dining. You’ll need to make sure that the property you plan to use is zoned for your needs.

How do I get a Certificate of Use in Jacksonville, FL?

To get a COU, you must submit an Application for Certificate of Use to the Zoning Section of the City of Jacksonville, by mail, in person or by email and pay the $112 fee. Your application will be reviewed by the Zoning Department, the Building Department, and the Fire Marshal’s office before it is approved.

Are there any exemptions to the Certificate of Use?

Yes. Home-based businesses located on residential property and peddlers are exempt from the COU requirement. However, you’ll still need to submit a COU application to establish your exemption.

What if I’m constructing a new building?

If you’re constructing a new building, you’ll need a building permit from the city’s Building Inspection Division. You must apply online using the Building Inspection Division Portal.

Jacksonville Business Resources

 

Feeling overwhelmed or want some in-person guidance? Here are some Jacksonville-specific business resources and organizations to help you on your way.

Getting the lay of the land

  • City of Jacksonville Small Business Help Sessions: Get answers to your specific questions about permits, zoning, fire inspections, and certificates of use. These sessions are held twice a month, and you must register to join. Fill out the registration form online and find answers to some frequently asked questions on the city’s Small Business Help page.
  • Jacksonville Public Library Small Business Resources: The library’s Small Business Resources Collection contains links to data for market research, information on business planning, and even tips for starting a side hustle.
  • Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of North Florida (UNF): The Florida SBDC at UNF offers free business consulting and trainings on a variety of topics, including starting your business, government contracting, bookkeeping, and even hurricane preparedness. You can sign up for no-cost consulting online.
  • US Small Business Administration (SBA) North Florida District: SBA North Florida provides free business consulting and support. The office can also connect you with state and federal resources and help you find funding, including Florida small business grants. And, if you’re feeling in need of inspiration, you can read some of the small business administration Jacksonville’s success stories.

Doing business with the City of Jacksonville

  • Bidding Opportunities for Work with the City of Jacksonville: If you’d like to work with the city, check the bid opening schedule and learn about bid awards for contractual services and supplies, professional services, and capital improvements. Contracts with the city can range from landscaping to engineering design services.
  • Jacksonville Small and Emerging Business (JSEB) Directory: To support the local economy in Jacksonville, the city made a goal to fulfill at least 20% of its contracts by hiring small and emerging Jacksonville businesses. You can sign up to be a supplier online, and once you’re approved, your business will be listed in the JSEB Directory. The directory is open to the public, so joining the JSEB supplier portal not only increases your opportunities for working with the city but also allows private citizens and businesses to find your services.

Connecting with the local business community

  • Jacksonville Business Professionals (JBP): Jacksonville Business Professionals is an organization that allows professionals like accountants, attorneys, insurance providers, and lenders to network and further their education. Another major goal of JBP is collaboration between members, so if you’re part of this sector, JBP membership could bring you business opportunities. You can apply for membership online.