Citrus County Florida welcomes entrepreneurs and new businesses! Many entrepreneurs who have never started a business before will be unsure how to get started. It is very important that before you start a new business, whether in Citrus County or anywhere else, you need to be aware of the legal requirements for your business type. It is important that you do your research so that you know all of the steps, permitting, licensing, and other important considerations prior to starting your business. This will save you much grief and frustration, and give you a better idea of the costs involved and the timeframe required to open legally. The Citrus One Stop Resource and Entrepreneurial (CORE) Business Center has met with officials from the County along with the Cities of Inverness and Crystal River to come up with this roadmap of steps to take and considerations to make to start your business in Citrus County the right way.
What address do you plan to operate your business out of? Enter the street address and city here to determine if it is under the governance of the City of Inverness, the City of Crystal River, or Citrus County, or if it is not located in Citrus County: [Address Lookup]. This will help you determine which government you will need to work with to open your business at this location (located under “Jurisdiction”). It will also provide you with a wealth of other information you should know about the property you are considering, including the utility providers (“Electric”, “Water Source”, “Water District”, Sewer Source”, “Sewer District”), what category of flood zone the location is in (“Emergency Management Information”), all of the building permits that have been issued for this property, land and zoning use applications, and code compliance complaints.
The zoning and permitting requirements for businesses vary depending on whether they are home-based or commercially located and on the business type. It is highly recommended that the business owner requests a pre-application meeting with the agency that has jurisdiction over their property before purchasing or leasing a property and before making an application. Click below for more information from the governing agencies:
Applications for building permits are required to be submitted for installations regulated by Section 105.1 of the Florida Building Code if any owner or authorized agent intends to: construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure. Please note that any new work or use changes for a structure will most likely require it to be brought up to current code, including meeting Americans with Disability Act requirements, fire department inspections, and more.
If you already have a permit that you or a contractor has filed for your business and want to check its status online, use these links below:
• CITY OF CRYSTAL RIVER PERMIT SEARCH (email)
Apply for a Tax ID/FEIN(Federal Employer Identification Number): Every business should have its own unique tax ID number; you will need a FEIN to open a business checking account and pay your taxes. You also need a FEIN for any permitting you may need.
Will you be using a DBA (doing business as) or fictitious name for your business?
Find out if your business type requires a State of Florida professional license or permit
Find out if your business type requires a federal license or permit
Select a “BAILS” team whose roles will be integral to helping your business succeed (we have included a list of Citrus County based professionals for each category, if you do not know where to start looking):
Many people think a local business tax receipt is a business license. While a business tax receipt is necessary in order for most business types to operate legally (unless they are tax exempt), it is not the same as a business license. With the exception of certain tax-exempt organizations, generally anyone who provides merchandise or services to the public, even if they are only a one-person company or home-based business, must obtain a local business tax receipt in order to operate legally. Based on the result you received when checking the jurisdiction for your business location, click on the corresponding link below to find out how to get a business tax receipt there for your business.
RECIPROCITY NOTE: Citrus County will honor Business Tax Receipts issued by the City of Inverness or the City of Crystal River, but the cities will not accept Business Tax Receipts from the County – if you are doing any business (as in serving or traveling to customers physically in Inverness or Crystal River), you also need to get a Business Tax Receipt from those cities. It is important to also note that you need a separate Business Tax Receipt for every location you plan to operate out of (i.e., if your business has more than one office, storefront, facility, etc., each physical location will need a separate Business Tax Receipt from the appropriate jurisdiction).
EXPIRATION NOTE: Business tax receipts in Florida expire at the end of the fiscal year, which is September 30. It is important that you remember to renew and keep your business tax receipt current.
SPECIAL TIP/FEE DISCOUNTS: Most jurisdictions offer a discount for the Business Tax Permit fee if the business owner is 65 or older. They are not allowed to ask you how old you are when you come in to apply due to discrimination laws, but you can show them proof of your date of birth to get the discount.
A home-based location is where a business operates in whole or in part from a residentially zoned property, and that business’s operations are secondary to the property’s primary use as a dwelling.
A commercial location is real estate intended for use by for-profit businesses, such as office complexes, shopping malls, service stations, bars and restaurants. It may be purchased or leased by a business.
• CATERING (CATERING ONLY)
• MOBILE FOOD SERVICE (INCLUDES HOT DOG CARTS AND FOOD TRUCKS)
• PERMANENT FOOD SERVICE (FIXED FOOD SERVICE WITH DINE-IN AND/OR TAKE-OUT)
• FOOD ESTABLISHMENT PERMITS (Florida Department of Agriculture)
• VACATION RENTAL (Dwelling) (Please note that the City of Crystal River has restrictions on short-term rentals and does not allow rentals of less than 60 days in duration)
In addition to the special state licensing and inspections, food truck operators need to be aware that jurisdictions in the County have their own ordinances about when and where food trucks can operate. While these jurisdictions do not require a separate “license”, they do require that the property owner where a food truck wants to set up applies for and receives a special event permit (the food truck operator cannot apply for this license; only the property owner can). Certain special events may be able to operate under a blanket permit. Generally, permits will not be issued if the food truck will be competing with a brick and mortar restaurant serving similar foods. Food truck locations cannot impede or create hazardous driving and pedestrian safety issues. Click on the links below for permits and applications from the jurisdictions:
If your restaurant/lodging will be serving alcohol, the State of Florida requires that the business get approval first from the Florida Department of Revenue, then apply in the following order (click on the links below):
• Contact the Non-Profit Resource Center -- they can assist you with completing your non-profit incorporation, avoid common non-profit mistakes, and review your documents for compliance and filing
• Apply with the IRS for recognition of your charity/non-profit exemption status
• Contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for more information on state and federal laws, monitoring and reporting.
Businesses operating in the State of Florida may be required to collect state sales tax. Please go to this Florida Department of Revenue link to find out more about which businesses are required to collect and pay sales tax, and the process to do so.
Click on the links below:
• Free Business Plan Template from SCORE
• Find staff for your business for free at Career Source Citrus/Levy/Marion
• Create a free local Google Business Profile (some business types are not eligible) to help Citrus County customers find you
DISCLAIMER: While this roadmap is intended to be a helpful guide to entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Citrus County, Florida, it is not intended to be all inclusive, nor cover every possible business type, nor to be construed as legal advice. Please consult with your business' BAILS team and the city or county jurisdiction that your business will be located in to make sure that you have taken all of the necessary steps to legally operate your business.