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All residential rental properties are required to have a City of Key West Business Tax Receipt. Residential rentals are divided into two primary categories: non-transient (may not be rented for less than 29 days at a time) and transient (no rental timeframe limitations unless restricted via a home owner association agreement).
In today’s web-based environment, it has become very easy for illegal vacation rentals to be advertised on various types of social media. The City of Key West strongly recommends that the general public confirm the validity of licensed vacation rentals prior to sending payment to the advertiser.
Additional information regarding transient rentals can be found within the City municipal code. Please email the Licensing Division if you have any questions as to the validity of an advertised vacation rental property.
The City of Key West has established caps for several types of licenses/permits. As a result, no new licenses or permits will be issued for the following license/permit types unless an existing business owner chooses not to renew:
There are currently 25 Mobile Vendor licenses in effect, which is the maximum number allowed. If any existing mobile vendors does not renew their license by October 31 of each year, the licensing page of the City of Key West’s website will be updated to indicate that applications will be accepted during the month of November, and a lottery will be held at the end of November to determine which applicant(s) is/are awarded the available Mobile Vendor License(s). For more information on mobile vendors, please reference the City municipal code.
There are currently 20 entertainment vehicles (pedicabs) licensed in the City of Key West, which is the maximum number allowed. If any of the existing pedicab providers does not renew any of their Entertainment Vehicle permits by October 31 of each year, the licensing page of the City of Key West’s website will be updated to indicate that applications will be accepted during the month of November, and a lottery will be held at the end of November to determine which applicant(s) is/are awarded the available Entertainment Vehicle permit(s). The number of pedicab drivers is not capped; only the number of pedicab vehicles is capped at 20. For more information on entertainment vehicles, please reference the City municipal code.
There are currently 56 vehicles for hire (taxis) licensed in the City of Key West, which is the maximum number allowed. If any of the existing taxi cab providers does not renew any of his/her Vehicle for Hire permits by July 31 of each year, the licensing page of the City of Key West’s website will be updated to indicate that applications will be accepted during the month of October, and a lottery will be held at the end of October to determine which applicant(s) is/are awarded the available Vehicle for Hire permit(s). The number of taxi cab drivers is not capped; only the number of vehicles is capped at 56.
A City of Key West Street Performer or Street Artist does not include the right to operate at Mallory Square. All activity at Mallory Square is handled by the following entity:
Key West Cultural Preservation SocietyP.O. Box 4837Key West, FL 33040Phone: 786-565-7448Email the Sunset Celebration Organizers
Participants in the sunset celebration at Mallory Square are not required to have a City of Key West Street Performer or Street Artist permit.
A significant number of City of Key West Business Tax Receipts, licenses, and permits require a license from the State of Florida as part of the application process. This includes, but is not limited to:
A copy of an active state license will be required with renewal payments for all City of Key West Business Tax Receipts, licenses, and permits which required one upon application. The majority of state licenses are obtained and can be confirmed through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), Florida Licensing Division.
The City of Key West requires that all Corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLC’s), Limited Partnerships, and Fictitious Names (DBA’s) be registered with the State of Florida. Business Tax Receipts, licenses, and permits will only be issued in one of the above names only if it has been registered with the State of Florida. In addition, all name registrations must be kept active with the State of Florida. For more information, please visit The Division of Corporations Website.
Anyone with a City of Key West Business Tax Receipt should also apply for a Business Tax Receipt with Monroe County.
Anyone with a Monroe County Business Tax Receipt only needs to apply with the City of Key West if they intend to do business within the city limits. City limits refers to all of the Island of Key West, and a portion of Stock Island north of U.S. Highway 1.
The City of Key West does allow some businesses to be operated from a private residence. There are several restrictions on home-based businesses, including but not limited to: no client contact can occur at the residence, only permanent residents of the location may be employed by the business, and no accessory structure on the property can be used for the business. For more information on home-based occupations, please refer to the City municipal code.
The following types of businesses cannot be operated from a private residence:
The City has many contractor classifications, and recognizes three levels of licensing: state certified licenses, state registered licenses, and specialty licenses. The state tests for certified licenses, and contractors licensed in this manner may work anywhere in the state.
Municipalities and counties hold testing for registered and specialty licenses. The City of Key West tests all contractors, and conduct the tests three times a year. After passing the required tests, contractors must apply for and receive a state registration and/or local competency card, obtain liability insurance and worker’s compensation coverage, and acquire a business location.
Key West has several ordinances pertaining to transportation businesses. The Vehicle for Hire Ordinance regulates and caps taxi services. The Entertainment Ordinance caps pedicab and other "entertainment" type licenses. The Sightseeing Ordinances caps sightseeing vehicle businesses. Limousine licenses are available, but are very strictly defined and regulated.
Business taxes in the City of Key West range from $21.00 (rental unit) to $1,389 (utility company) per year, most averaging $100 to $300. Businesses operating in the City also need to obtain a Monroe County Business Tax Receipt (call 305-295-5000 for more information). Businesses using a fictitious name, need to register that name with the State of Florida, which costs $50.