The City of Key West, Florida

The Southernmost City in th Continental United States

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City Business License FAQs

1. How do I get a mobile vendor license?

The City of Key West permits only 25 mobile vendor licenses, for selling products and services from public roads. There are presently no licenses available. Anyone interested in obtaining a vending license should contact the licensing office the first week of November (of any year). If a license is available, a registration period will be held the last two weeks of November, and the license will be awarded by random selection shortly thereafter. Licenses fees average $1,000 for mobile vending.

2. What about selling or performing at Mallory Square during the sunset celebration?

The City of Key West does not require licensing for sunset performers, however, a permit/permission is required by the Cultural Preservation Society (CPS). Please call (305) 292-7700 for more information or check out the web site at www.sunsetcelebration.org.

3. What is required for having a retail business or food service business on private property?

Proper zoning, a certificate of occupancy for the structure for the intended use, adequate off-street parking (or a parking variance), lease/deed, commercial solid waste account, Florida sales tax number, Federal ID/Social Security number, Articles of Incorporation/Fictitious Name Registration, state license if applicable, insurance if applicable, and any other requirements specific to the application.

4. What if I just want to set up a booth or cart on private property?

All the above requirements must be met, plus there must be handicapped-accessible commercial restrooms on the property. If retail goods are sold from the booth or cart, special permission must first be granted from the City Commission.

5. Am I allowed to have a business from my home?

Yes. In all districts in the city where residential uses are permitted, a home business license is allowed, however, certain conditions must be met, including: the business must be conducted within the principal structure, not outside or in a detached structure such as a garage or shed; no more than 20% of the total floor area of the house may be used for the business, any employees of the business must live in the home, and the business must not create any impact which would detract from the residential nature of the neighborhood.

6. What type of license do I need for contracting?

The City has many contractor classifications, and recognizes three levels of licensing: state certified licenses, state registered licenses, and specialty licenses. The state tests for certified licenses, and contractors licensed in this manner may work anywhere in the state.

Municipalities and counties hold testing for registered and specialty licenses. The City of Key West tests all contractors, and conduct the tests three times a year. After passing the required tests, contractors must apply for and receive a state registration and/or local competency card, obtain liability insurance and worker's compensation coverage, and acquire a business location.

7. Can I come to Key West and buy a building and convert it to a guesthouse or B & B?

The City has very few zoning districts in the historic district which allow transient use, and the City has very strict off-street parking and density (units-per-acre) requirements. These restrictions coupled with a current cap on new transient licenses makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to convert a residential property to transient use.

8. Can I come to Key West and start up a transportation business?

Key West has several ordinances pertaining to transportation businesses. The Vehicle for Hire Ordinance regulates and caps taxi services. The Entertainment Ordinance caps pedicab and other "entertainment" type licenses. The Sightseeing Ordinances caps sightseeing vehicle businesses. Limousine licenses are available, but are very strictly defined and regulated.

9. What other licenses and or fees do I need to pay to start a business in Key West?

Business taxes in the City of Key West range from $19.95 (rental unit) to $1,260 (utility company) per year, most averaging $100.00 to $300.00.  Businesses operating in the City also need to obtain a Monroe County Business Tax Receipt (call 305-295-5000 for more information). Businesses using a d/b/a, also called fictitious name, need to register that name with the State of Florida, which costs $50.00.

10. Where are you located and what are your hours?

  • Location: 1300 White Street
  • Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday
  • Phone: (305)809-3955 fax (305)809-3978