Opening a Business

Are you considering opening a business in the City of Winter Haven? Here are a few helpful steps to assist you:

Step 1 - Selecting a Location

Is the location you have chosen inside the city limits of Winter Haven? To find out, contact the Winter Haven Building Division, the Winter Haven Planning Division, or the Polk County Property Appraiser.

Step 2 - Make Sure Your Business Is Located in the Appropriate Zoning District

All businesses, no matter the location, must meet the proper zoning requirements. This includes both commercial and residential zoning. Winter Haven is comprised of many zoning districts spread throughout the City, and the Winter Haven Planning Division can assist in finding the best location for your business.

Step 3 - Determine if You Plan to Construct a New Building or Utilize an Existing Building

Please allow for a few months if you choose to construct a new building for your business. This process includes obtaining a Civil Engineer to design the site plan for site improvements as well as a General/Building Contractor to oversee construction of the building. Detailed information regarding this process can be obtained by contacting either the Winter Haven Planning Division or the Winter Haven Building Division. The process is much easier if you choose an existing building because it more than likely already meets the zoning requirements of the location. It is possible the existing building may need a Change of Occupancy to allow its new use, so a call to the Planning Division would be helpful.

Step 4 - Obtaining a Business Tax Receipt

Let's say you have constructed your new building or have secured an existing building and you are ready to open your business. To obtain your Business Tax Receipt, visit the Winter Haven Building Division for the necessary application or find it on the City website under Business Tax Receipt. Along with your application, you must provide any required state licenses offered by the Florida Department of Business and Profession Regulation or other Florida state agency as required. Also, a Fictitious Name registration is required and may be obtained from the Florida Division of Corporations. You will also need a sales tax number from the Florida Department of Revenue. To complete your application please provide a copy of your Polk County Business Tax Receipt.

Step 5 - Turn on Winter Haven Utilities

Contact the Engineering Department for an application for utility service. This will provide your business with water and sewer. Depending on the type of business, additional water/sewer impact fees may be required.

Important Contacts