License Requirements for Starting a Cleaning Business in Florida
If you’re thinking about launching a cleaning business in Florida, you’re doing it at a good time. Florida has the third-highest employment levels in the nation for residential cleaners and housekeepers and the fourth-highest employment levels for janitors and commercial cleaners.
Plus, the cleaning industry has changed since the pandemic. People expect public spaces to be as clean as their homes, and businesses are implementing new practices to keep professional spaces clean and sanitized.
Things are only going to keep growing for the cleaning industry, so now’s a great time to get started and begin earning a steady salary as a cleaner.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about starting a cleaning business in Florida.
Do you need a license for a cleaning business in Florida?
In Florida, you don’t need a state-issued license to operate a cleaning business. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is in charge of licensing in Florida, and cleaning is not included in its list of regulated industries.
But you do need to have a business tax receipt (BTR) in many Florida counties and cities. Previously known as an occupational license, a BTR applies to anyone providing merchandise or services, like commercial or residential cleaning. Essentially, it means that you have to pay business taxes to operate within certain county or city limits.
Examples of BTR regulations by Florida region
Business tax receipt regulations in Florida vary by city and county. Here are a few examples:
- Cape Coral
- Daytona Beach
- Fort Lauderdale
- Miami-Dade County
- Port St. Lucie
- Seminole County
- St. Petersburg
This isn’t an exhaustive list, though, so be sure to check local websites to find out if you need a BTR in your area. In some cases, you might find that you need to pay twice for both a city and a county receipt, depending on where you’re operating. For example, if you open your business in Miami, you have to pay city taxes to Miami and county taxes to Miami-Dade County.
BTRs are applicable to residential and household cleaners as well as janitorial and commercial cleaners. This means that whatever type of cleaning services you offer, you need to check whether your city or county requires a BTR.
Rules and regulations are also subject to change. For example, some cities used to require businesses to obtain a BTR, but now they don’t. It’s a good idea to keep returning to the website of the county or city where you want to work to keep up to date with the latest regulations.
Requirements to operate a cleaning business in Florida
You don’t need to meet any educational or work experience requirements to run your cleaning business in Florida.
However, there are some requirements to consider when applying for a business tax receipt in counties and cities across Florida. Here are some of the common things you might need to submit an application:
- A real estate account number for your business property (if you have a main office)
- A tangible account number for property
- Your business’s full legal name (including proof of your fictitious name or corporate documents)
- A certificate of use (applicable in some counties and cities, like Miami)
- Your business’s North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code
- Your Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), Tax ID Number, or Social Security Number
Refer to your local city or county website to find out exactly what you need to obtain your BTR.
How do I apply for a BTR in Florida?
Although the exact steps vary based on location, here’s a general overview of how to get a business tax receipt in Florida in order to operate a cleaning business:
- Get a certificate of use. A certificate of use is a way for the county or city to make sure your business is operating legally and safely. You need this in some counties and cities before you can get your BTR (check local websites to see if it’s applicable).
- Apply online. Most BTR applications are online, so head to the local website for your county or city to access the online application (take a look at the Orlando website, for example). If there’s no online application or if you prefer not to submit digitally, you can usually send a postal application. Details should be on the website, and it’ll usually require you to print the documents, fill them in, and mail them to the county or city’s office.
- Wait for approval. After submitting your application, wait for the approval to come through so you can get your BTR. Timelines vary depending on location and the information you’ve provided. If you’re missing any key pieces of documentation or you’ve incorrectly filled in part of the application, the process can be delayed. If you upload everything correctly, you should receive the license in around a week (but check local websites for an accurate time estimate).
Florida cleaning business certifications
You don’t need to pass any exams to begin a cleaning business in Florida. But if you want to show potential clients that you’re good at your job, you can always obtain certifications to boost your credibility.
For instance, ISSA Standards and Certifications can be good for residential and janitorial cleaners—the ISSA Clean Standards and Cleaning Industry Management Standard courses are both great examples. Completing these courses shows potential employers that you have high standards. Plus, it could set you apart from other cleaning companies in the area.
Does Florida reciprocate licenses for cleaning businesses?
Reciprocity agreements allow licensed businesses in one state to work in another state without obtaining a new license.
There’s no reciprocity for BTRs because you’re paying the taxes directly to the state of Florida. However, if you obtain national certifications, those can be carried with you anywhere in the U.S. that you work.
How much is a tax receipt for a cleaning business in Florida?
Prices for your business tax receipt vary depending on where you operate your business and what type of cleaning business you’re running. Here are some of the prices for a few counties and cities across Florida:
- Broward County: Prices range from $27 to $150
- Delray Beach: $190.30
- Naples: $57.89 for 1-15 employees, $86.82 for 16-30 employees, and $115.76 for more than 30 employees
- Osceola County: $30.00 (for 12 months if obtained from 10/1 to 3/31), $15 (for 6 months if obtained from 4/1 to 6/30), or $45 (for 18 months if obtained from 7/1 to 9/30)
- Seminole County: $45.00 for all regulated entities and $25.00 for all non-regulated entities
Prices may change over time, so head to the county or city’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that there are often insurance requirements for operating a cleaning business, such as liability insurance and/or workers’ compensation insurance, so make sure you check with the right state or local authority for more information to determine any associated costs.
Florida license renewal for cleaning businesses
Your BTR receipt will expire on September 30 of each year, regardless of when you purchased it. You’ll get a reminder in July to prompt you, so you shouldn’t forget when it’s due.
Details of how to renew your BTR or register for a new one vary based on your location. For example, some cities give you access to an online portal in which you can see your BTR expiration date and apply for your renewal.
All the information on how to renew your BTR can be found on the official Florida county and city websites.
What happens if the license for my cleaning business expires?
If your BTR expires, you need to stop working immediately. If you don’t, you could get hit with fines and penalties, which could prevent your business from operating.
For example, if you operate a cleaning business without a business tax receipt in Holly Hill, here’s what you could have to do:
- Pay a penalty of up to 25% of the receipt fee
- Pay an escalating fine of up to $250 if you don’t make the payment within 180 days
- Appear before the Special Magistrate, which could lead to an additional $250 administrative fine on top of other fines already assessed
Check the websites for your local area to see exactly what you need to pay for and how much it costs to get your BTR (remembering that you might need more than one for the city and county in which you’re operating).
Next steps for starting a cleaning business in Florida
There are additional steps you’ll need to take to start your own cleaning business in Florida. The steps vary based on where you’re operating, the type of business you’re running, and the size of your company. However, most businesses have to follow these steps to get up and running:
- Register your business. Whether you’re a start-up or a large corporation, everyone has to register their business in Florida. This involves choosing the type of business you want to operate (limited liability company, sole proprietorship, non-profit organization, and so on). If you’re not sure what type of business you want to run, take a look at the different types of business entities and legal structures on the State of Florida website.
- Choose your company name. Another key element of registering your business is deciding what to name it. You choose the name you want, then submit it as part of the registration process. This is known as fictitious name registration.
- Pay the fees. After choosing your company name, you’ll pay the filing fee to register your business. Filing fees change based on the type of business you’re registering. Head to the Florida State website for a breakdown of the fee schedules.
- Get insurance. In Florida, a business with four or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance. To avoid any mishaps or unwanted penalties, it’s a good idea to get your insurance in place as part of the business registration process. That way, you’re less likely to forget it.
Ready to start your cleaning business? Get more step-by-step details, including costs, equipment you’ll need, and how to price your first jobs in How to Start a Cleaning Business: the Definitive Guide and Checklist.
Starting your own business is hard, but it’s worth it.
Does a license to operate a cleaning business in Florida increase your earning potential?
Having qualifications and registering your business can increase your earning potential and help you run a successful cleaning business. Here’s how:
- Legitimize your business. Show potential customers that you’re legally allowed to work in the city or county by registering with the state. This builds trust with potential customers, giving them peace of mind that you’re following the right rules and regulations to run your business.
- Showcase your skills and knowledge. If you have certifications in cleaning and sanitizing, potential customers can see that you have the skills to do a good job. It shows that you’re dedicated to doing a good job and that you’re knowledgeable about your work.
- Stand out from the competition. The cleaning industry is pretty saturated. In May of 2022, there were over 2 million commercial janitors and cleaners in the U.S. and over 770,000 residential cleaners and housekeepers. The good news is that having some professional cleaning qualifications under your belt can help you stand out from the crowd. With these certifications, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and attract more potential clients.
On average, housekeepers in Florida earn between $24,000 and $31,000 per year. But with experience, this amount can increase. And you stand to earn even more by starting your own cleaning business. Visit our cleaning business resources for more information, tips, and success stories from other cleaning businesses.