What Permits Will You Need to open a restaurant?

So you're opening a restaurant. It's exhilarating, and there's so much to do, from planning the menu, designing the build-out, coordinating with vendors and hiring staff. But what about the legal aspects? To open a restaurant in Miami you'll need to complete the proper paperwork and be approved through agencies run at the federal, state, county and city levels. Yes, that's right, in order to begin business you'll have to go through permitting and be approved on four different levels, some of which require multiple permits, and some which will require going through multiple agencies. Here's a rundown of what you'll need.


Believe it or not, the simplest part of this procedure, will be on the federal level, and the requirements are the same that any business that employs people have. You will definitely need an EIN, which stands for an Employer Identification Number, and is often referred to as a Federal Tax ID.


On the state level, the first thing that you're going to want to take care of is determining what kind of business you're going to own. Is it a sole proprietorship, a limited liability, a partnership or a corporation? You're also going to want your restaurant to have a name, and unless you're restaurant's name is exactly the same as the name of the ownership entity you're going to need what is referred to as a fictitious business name, which is filed with the state. This is referred to as your DBA, which stands for Doing Business As. In order for your name to be approved it's necessary that no one else has filed a claim to it, already uses it for business, nor does it infringe on somebody else's business by being too similar.

You will also have to register with the Florida Department of Revenue to register all of the tax-related activities you'll be engaging in once open. You will also have to make sure that you have the correct sort of worker's compensation insurance, depending on your size and number of employees. Finally, on the state level you'll need to get the proper licensing for the type of restaurant which you are opening. Whether you're restaurant is seated, mobile, catering, attached to a hotel, has outdoor space and serves alcohol will all be factors in determining the licenses that you'll need.

County and City:

If you're opening your restaurant in the cities of Miami or Hialeah, you're required to have county permitting in place prior to filing the necessary paperwork with the city. It's also here where the exact sort of permitting necessary and procedures become fully dependent on each individual business' circumstances. Here's a list of what you'll definitely have to make arrangements for.

  • Zoning: This is something you're going to need to keep track of prior to signing a lease on the building. Every area of Miami has its own zoning, with specific neighborhoods having different bylaws and methods for allowing exceptions. As far as possible, you'll want the zoning to allow for the type of business you plan to operate regarding things such as capacity and serving alcohol. You'll also want to make sure that you'll be able to fit the building with adequate water and wastewater hookups. For more information about Miami's water, contact the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department. If the neighborhood which you plan to open your restaurant in has specific bylaws, you may need to negotiate with county and local boards for permissions specific to the business you'll be opening.

  • Environmental: There is a host of environmental regulations that you will need to meet as both a building and a business. Additionally, if you are planning major construction, you can save on time by investing in a green building program.

Building: You will have to ensure that your building meets a host of requirements regarding fire, safety and capacity. This requires scheduling a series of inspections with the relevant agencies about the county and city levels, and for many, can require return visits as inspectors need to make sure necessary alterations are made. Although architects and contractors will try to design and build so as to meet code, they often miss details and then need to correct the errors, which unfortunately can become extremely expensive.

Opening a restaurant is a major investment, and it can seem as though it's not possible to plan for every possible outcome. But in hiring an expediter, you'll have someone on your time who is tracking every aspect of the legal process of getting your business up and running. Get in touch with Permitter for a free permit analysis, and to find out how our expert services can save you time and money and make your restaurant opening a success.