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OPENING A BUSINESS
All business owners are required to obtain both a City of Miami Beach Certificate of Use and a Business Tax Receipt (formerly known as an Occupational License) to operate a business within the City. Operating a business without a Business Tax Receipt is prohibited. For more information, call the Finance Department’s Business Tax Office at 305.673.7420. A Miami-Dade County Business Tax Receipt (305.270.4949) must also be obtained.

A Certificate of Use (C.U.) is a pre-requisite to the issuance of a City of Miami Beach Business Tax Receipt. The C.U. fee must be submitted at the time of application and each year thereafter by May 31. Inspections by the Building Department, Fire Department, Planning Department, and others, must occur following the submission of an application. Application must be either made on-line at www.miamibeachfl.gov or in person at City Hall, Business Tax Office, 1700 Convention Center Drive, first floor.

SOLE PROPRIETORSHIPS, PARTNERSHIPS AND CORPORATIONS
Your first decision as a business owner is to determine the legal structure of your business. Your choice determines what kind of taxes the business must pay, who’s liable and what forms are necessary. There are four main choices: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation or Limited Liability Company. In a sole proprietorship, the owner has absolute authority over all business decisions. In a partnership, two or more partners share control of the business. Contact the Florida Department of State for more information at 850.488.9000 or visit them online at www.sunbiz.org. If you are forming an S corporation, you must also file with the Internal Revenue Service.

STATE AND FEDERAL TRADEMARKS
A trademark or service mark may be registered with the Florida Division of Corporations for use and protection only in the state of Florida. For protection of your trademark in the entire U.S., including Florida, you must register it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For information about registering in Florida, call 850-245-6051 or check the Division of Corporation’s website at www.sunbiz.org. For information regarding federal registration, contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 800.786.9199 or visit them online at www.uspto.gov.

USEFUL START UP INFORMATION
The Small Business Administration’s small business guide
(http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html) is intended to serve as a roadmap for starting a business. It is both comprehensive and easy to use. It also includes numerous electronic links for additional information. Use this powerful interactive tool, with many supporting resources to help you start a successful business.