Are you interested in running a cleaning business in the Sunshine state? If so, it's important to set up your company correctly from the get-go. Not following the rules can lead to fines and other penalties.
Obtaining the appropriate Florida cleaning licenses and insurance can help you avoid nasty surprises in the future.
This article will look at some of the most common steps you need to take to set up your business, no matter where you’re located in the state. Plus some city-specific requirements you may need to consider.
Just keep in mind that regulations can change over time. Check with the local and state government for the most up-to-date Florida cleaning business requirements.
5 steps to starting a cleaning business in Florida
Are you ready to launch your cleaning business? Here’s what you need to know to get started the right way.
1. Register your business with the state
Unless you’re a sole proprietor, you need to register your business with the state and pay the appropriate filing fee:
- LLC - $125
- Corporation - $70
- General Partnership - $50
- Limited Partnership - $1,000
If you’re setting up your business as a sole proprietorship, you don't have to register it with the state. Learn more about the difference between independent contractors vs. sole proprietors vs. LLCs here.
2. File a fictitious business statement
If you're a sole proprietor, and you want to operate your business using a name other than your legal name, you must file a fictitious business statement, also known as a "doing business as" (DBA) form with the Florida Department of State.
Not a sole proprietor? Partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies operating under a different name than the entity’s legal name also need to file a DBA form.
The cost to file a Florida fictitious name registration is $50.
3. Obtain an employer identification number (EIN)
If you’ve got employees, operate a multi-member LLC, are part of a partnership or run a corporation, you must have an EIN for tax purposes.
The IRS doesn't require sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs to have an EIN. However, having one makes it easier to separate your business and personal finances. Plus, it shows you're serious about your company – that it's not just a hobby.
Getting an EIN won't cost you anything. You can apply for one online or by completing form SS-4 and faxing it or mailing it to the IRS.
4. Get a business license
Florida doesn't require residential cleaners to have a business license, but many counties and cities within the state do. Check with the city or county clerk's office where you plan to operate your business to find out whether you need a license to get started.
5. Obtain a sales tax permit
Unless you only plan to include homeowners on your client roster, you'll need a sales tax permit. Residential cleaning customers are exempt from paying sales tax, but commercial clients aren't.
If you register online, there’s no fee, but if you register by mail, there’s a $5 fee.
Local Florida cleaning business license requirements
After meeting the state’s requirements, it’s important to make sure you meet your local regulations as well. Check with the city or county clerk where you're starting your business to find out what local licenses or permits you need.
If you’re setting up shop in Miami-Dade county, you’ll need a local business tax receipt (formerly known as an occupational license).
But that’s not all. If your business is in a municipality within the county, you need a local business tax receipt from that city plus one from the county.
So, depending on where your business is located within the county, you may need two business tax receipts.
Are you planning to serve the Jacksonville area? Before you start taking on clients, you'll need to secure a business tax receipt. This license proves that you paid the taxes necessary to operate a business in Jacksonville.
If you're operating a business in Tampa, you need two business tax receipts — one from the city of Tampa and one from Hillsborough County. This license shows you paid the required taxes to run your business legally in the city and county.
Before launching a business in Orlando, you must pay a tax to operate your company. You'll receive a business tax receipt from the city when you make your payment.
In addition to a local business tax receipt, you'll also need a Certificate of Use permit showing you're allowed to operate where your business is located.
Insurance requirements for Florida cleaning businesses
Having the right types of Florida business insurance and adequate policy limits can help protect your business from a financial loss. Here are some of the most common types of insurance to consider.
- Workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp helps protect you with a work-related injury or illness. If your cleaning company has four or more employees, you must maintain this type of coverage. Otherwise, it’s optional. Even if you’re exempt from purchasing workers’ comp coverage, it may be worth buying. It can help reduce your out-of-pocket expenses if you or an employee gets hurt or sick on the job.
- General liability. One of the most common types of business insurance, general liability covers claims for third-party injuries and property damage.
- Tools and equipment. This is an add-on to a general liability policy that pays to repair or replace your equipment and supplies if they’re damaged or someone steals them.
- Commercial auto. You need a way to get to and from your clients' homes and offices. Your personal auto insurance policy won't cover you if you're in an accident while driving for work, but a commercial auto policy can.
Bond requirements for Florida cleaning businesses
You probably won't be legally required to have a janitorial bond for your cleaning business unless you work with a government agency. However, it can help make you more marketable because some clients will only work with bonded companies.
There are two types of bonds you may want to consider for your business.
- Surety bond. This type of bond helps protect your clients from theft. So, if you or one of your employees steals from a client, the surety (the company that issues the bond) will pay to replace the stolen item.
- License and permit bond. Government organizations often require this type of bond. It lets the client know that you will comply with all applicable laws and regulations during your work.
Be aware, bonds and insurance are not the same things. NEXT offers easy, affordable business insurance, but it's important to note that we don't currently offer bonds.
How NEXT helps cleaning businesses
NEXT makes obtaining cleaning business insurance fast, easy and affordable.
When you answer just a few simple questions through our online application, you can see coverage options, get a quote and purchase insurance in less than 10 minutes.
You'll get immediate access to your certificate of insurance as soon as you make a payment. If you have questions throughout the process, our licensed, U.S.-based insurance professionals are standing by to help.
Get started with your free online quote today.