Miami Beach Simplifying Business License Process

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach Simplifying Business License Process:

Certificate of use process separated from Business Tax Receipt

The City of Miami Beach on Monday will launch a new, simplified process for obtaining Business Tax Receipts (BTRs), the license for doing business in the City. The goal is to get businesses up and running faster by separating the Certificate of Use process – which requires inspections by the Fire, Planning, Code Compliance, Public Works, and Building departments – from the BTR application. By decoupling the processes, it should be a matter of days to get a BTR.

It’s part of an overhaul that included the City moving its BTR process online and initiating a home-based business module last year.

Long-time readers of RE:MiamiBeach may remember this reporter’s story of obtaining a BTR for a home-based business that became tangled in a web of inspections and a circular process loop. [The Cliffs Notes version: It was a comedy of errors.] 

At the time, Amy Mehu, Assistant Director of Economic Development, said the City had been reviewing issues that, initially, appeared to be related to implementing the new EnerGov technology platform. Many businesses were experiencing the “pains and struggles of going through the BTR process,” but, she said, each problem appeared to be unique. “They didn’t necessarily look as if they were all part of the same problem. They looked like kinks in the system and part of the growing pains of adapting to new system.”

When the RE:MiamiBeach story ran, Mehu said City Manager Jimmy Morales told the team to “make a fresh start… whatever that looks like.”

“Looking at the whole process, one of the biggest issues was we had taken away the whole customer service experience,” she said. There are bound to be “one or two hiccups” for businesses along the way but they “didn’t come to anybody’s attention until later on in the process.” 

Businesses who thought they were ready to open and going through the last step of obtaining their BTR, were finding their licenses delayed because the Certificate of Use process wasn’t completed, “adding more stress” to opening a business. Mehu said, the system “created this whole web of misinformation.” Business owners “got tossed around” and didn’t know where the holdup was or who to go to in order to get their issue resolved.

Now, the City plans to help businesses “better understand what’s to come” and, with the two-step process, Mehu said, once the Certificate of Use is approved, businesses can apply online for their Business Tax Receipt and “in a matter of days” get it reviewed, approved, and sent to their email inbox ready to print.

“Developers with new projects, they’re thrilled by the idea,” Mehu said. It’s actually a familiar process for many as it’s similar to the one used by the City of Miami.

“Hopefully this will streamline the process,” something that she called “especially important right now” in order to “help businesses open up sooner and faster as a remedy to our economic issues.” 

Home-based businesses are no longer required to go through the Certificate of Use process with all the various inspections. “That one was a quick fix right after your post,” Mehu said.

There are more than 5,000 BTRs but “a good chunk are also home-based and professional licenses” issued, for example, to stylists in a hair salon. In those cases, each individual has their own BTR. 

To begin the application process, go to www.mbselfservice.com which includes step by step instructions for Certificates of Use and BTRs.



 

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