Starting A New Business
If you are going into business for the first time, there are several agencies that you will need to contact for various permits prior to opening your business. Please visit the Open My Florida Business website for helpful tips and checklists for starting a business in Florida. All required state licenses for operation of your business will need to be obtained prior to the issuance of a Business License with City of Panama City.
Merchant Licenses are required for those businesses located in the city limits of Panama City who engage in retail and/or wholesale sales from the business location.
Once you submit your application for a merchant license it will be routed through several departments for approval. This process can take 5-7 business days. Once approved, your merchant license will be issued by Business Services.
A merchant license for each new fiscal year is issued annually beginning October 1 and expires September 30. For the Merchant License to remain active, the 1% merchant payment must be remitted monthly to the City's Business Services Department.
Occupational licenses are required for businesses located in the city limits of Panama City that provide a service and charge a fee for the service. Annual license fees range from $25.00 to $2,500.00 depending on the occupation/service type. Some occupations/services are regulated by a state agency and a copy of the current state license is required at the time of application and prior to a local occupational license being issued.
Your application for a local occupational license will be routed through several departments for approval. This process can take 5 to 7 business days. Once approved, your local occupational license will be issued by Business Services.
Occupational licenses expire at midnight on September 30th of each year. On August 1st of each year a renewal statement is mailed out to each occupational license holder and must be renewed before October 1st. An occupational license that is not renewed by October 15th will be considered delinquent and subject to a delinquency penalty of 10% for the month of October plus an additional 5% penalty for each month of delinquency thereafter until paid. The delinquency penalty shall not exceed 25% of the occupational license fee.
Hotels and Short-Term Rentals
In October of 2022, the City Commission approved an ordinance expanding the definition of “merchant” to include hotels, motels, and short-term rentals (any stays less than 180 days in duration). This revision requires all lodging establishments in the City to collect and remit to the Business Services Department a one percent (1%) merchant fee on all gross sales.
To start this business license process, please complete the Business License Application and then return the document to our Department by email, mail, or in person. Business Services will review your application, ensure compliance with the lodging requirements, and then issue your business a Merchant Business Tax Receipt.
Before starting a hotel or short-term rental business, be sure to verify that your property is within an allowable zoning district, if you need help, our office can assist you. To be approved for a Merchant Business Tax Receipt from the City, you must first be registered as a lodging establishment with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and be registered with the Bay County Clerk of Court to collect and remit the five percent (5%) Tourist Development Tax (“Bed Tax”). For more information on where to register and allowable zonings please download the Short-Term Rental Fact Sheet.
Home Occupation License
The City of Panama City allows home occupations in mixed-use and commercial areas. A home occupation is an occupation or business activity that is service-oriented. Please review and sign the guidelines for Home Occupation Home Office of Convenience Statement from Zoning (PDF) and complete the New Business License Application (PDF).
If you rent your home, you must provide a signed statement from your landlord that gives you permission to use the home address for your home-based business.
A license is required before a business can begin operation. The fee is based on the type of business and must be renewed annually.
The City of Panama City Municipal Code, Section 18, outlines the procedure to register as a door-to-door solicitor within the City of Panama City. For information regarding registering as a door-to-door solicitor, please contact the Business Services Department.
A permit must be obtained before holding a yard and / or garage sale. Permits can be issued for a maximum of 7 days, with only 3 permitted per location in a year. Permit applications may be downloaded through this link..
Development Services and Code Enforcement
As part of the Business Application Process, the City's Development Services and Code Enforcement Department, in conjunction with other City regulatory departments, review all applications to determine if the proposed business location and business activity comply with the City’s land use regulations. If your proposed location does not comply, the Development Services Department will advise you of any zoning and/or land use changes that would be required prior to the issuance of a business license by the Business Services Department.
The Development Services Department is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at City Hall and can be reached at (850) 872-3025.