Starting an LLC in Florida is easy, just follow these simple steps:
Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Florida naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.
1. Follow the naming guidelines:
- Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company,” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
- Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
2. Is the name available in Florida? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a name search on the Sunbiz Florida website.
3. Is the URL available? We recommend that you check to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.
FAQ: Naming an LLC
What is an LLC?
Do I need to get a DBA or Trade Name for my business?
Most LLCs do not need a DBA. The name of the LLC can serve as your company’s brand name and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under another name. Learn more here.
You are required to nominate a Florida Registered Agent for your Florida LLC.
What is a Registered Agent? A registered agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important legal documents on behalf of your business. Think of your registered agent as your business' point of contact with the state.
Who can be a Registered Agent? A registered agent must be a resident of Florida or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in Florida. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.
Recommended: ZenBusiness provides the first year of registered agent service free with LLC formation ($49 + State Fees)
FAQ: Nominating a Registered Agent
Can I be my own Registered Agent?
Yes. You or anyone else in your company can serve as the registered agent for your LLC. Learn more here.
To register your LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the State of Florida. This can be done online at the MyFlorida Sunbiz website or by mail.
When filing on Sunbiz or by mail, you will be asked for the name and address of person(s) authorized to manage your LLC. Only LLC managers should be listed here.
If you leave the “person(s) authorized to manage your LLC” section blank, the state will assume your LLC is member-managed and member privacy will be completely protected.
If your LLC will be manager-managed, only the manager’s name is required unless the manager is a company or an authorized representative (such as a registered agent service.) By providing only necessary information, you will protect the privacy of your LLC managers.
You have until the due date of your LLCs first annual report to decide how your LLC will be managed. We recommend learning more about member-managed and manager-managed LLCs before you file.
File the Articles of Organization
OPTION 1: File Online through the Florida Department of State Sunbiz Website
- OR -
OPTION 2: File by Mail or In-Person
State Filing Cost: $125, payable to the Florida Department of State. (Nonrefundable)
New Filing Section
Division of Corporations
P.O. Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Florida, you will need to form a Foreign LLC.
FAQ: Filing LLC Documents
What is the processing time to form my Florida LLC?
3 to 5 business days online or by mail.
What is the difference between a domestic Florida LLC and foreign LLC?
An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. Normally when we refer to an LLC we are actually referring to a domestic LLC. A foreign LLC must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state. If you are filing as a Foreign Florida LLC learn more here.
An operating agreement is not required in Florida, but it's a good practice to have one.
What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.
Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.
For more information on operating agreements, read our Florida LLC operating agreement guide.
Recommended: Use our free Operating Agreement Tool to draft a customized operating agreement for your LLC.
FAQ: Creating an Operating Agreement
Do I need to file my operating agreement with the State of Florida?
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference.
What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. It is essentially a social security number for the company.
Why do I need an EIN? An EIN is required for the following:
- To open a business business bank account for the company
- For Federal and State tax purposes
- To hire employees for the company
Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail.
FAQ: Getting an EIN
How do I get an EIN if I don’t have a social security number?
What tax structure should I choose for my LLC?
When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.
However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing S corporation status. We recommend consulting with a local accountant to find out which option is best for you.
Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?
We reviewed and ranked the top 5 LLC formation services.
Find out which is best for you.
Protect Your Business & Personal Assets
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
You can protect your business with these two steps:
1. Opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more.
2. Getting a business credit card:
- Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
- Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance are:
- General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.
- Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers against claims of malpractice and other business errors.
- Workers' Compensation Insurance: A type of insurance that provides coverage for employees’ job-related illnesses, injuries, or deaths. Get a free quote with ADP.
How much will the right insurance cost you? Click here to find out.
Improperly signing a document as yourself and not as a representative of the business can leave you open to personal liability. When signing legal documents on behalf of your company, you could follow this formula to avoid problems:
- Formal name of your business
- Your signature
- Your name
- Your position in the business as its authorized representative
See the image below for an example.
This ensures that you are signing on behalf of your LLC and not as yourself.
Learn more on how to protect your business & personal assets by reading our article - How to Maintain your LLC Corporate Veil.
Keep Your Company Compliant
Do I need business licenses and permits?
To operate your LLC you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.
The details of business licenses and permits vary from state to state. Make sure you read carefully. Don't be surprised if there are short classes required as well.
Fees for business licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of license you are seeking to obtain.
Find out how to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your business or have a professional service do it for you:
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of state tax:
If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for a seller's permit through the Florida Department of Revenue website.
This certificate allows a business to collect sales tax on taxable sales.
Sales tax, also called "Sales and Use Tax," is a tax levied by states, counties, and municipalities on business transactions involving the exchange of certain taxable goods or services.
Read our sales tax guide to find out more.
If you have employees in Florida, you will need to register for Florida Re-employment Tax, a type of unemployment tax, through the Florida Department of Revenue. New employers pay an initial tax rate of .0270 (2.7%) on the first $7,000 of yearly wages paid to employees.
Industry Specific Taxes
If your business falls within a specific industry, additional state taxes may apply.
Register for Florida State Taxes
Most LLCs will need to report their income to the IRS each year using:
- Form 1065 Partnership Return (most multi-member LLCs use this form)
- Form 1040 Schedule C (most single-member LLCs use this form)
Read our LLC Tax Guide to learn more about federal income taxes for LLCs.
Florida Annual Report
Florida requires LLCs to file an annual report with the Department of State. This can be done online.
File your Annual Report
File Online through the State of Florida website
Fee: $138.75 (Nonrefundable)
Due Date: Florida's deadline for filing the annual report is May 1st of each year. Your LLCs first annual report is due the next calendar year after your llc was formed, so for an llc formed in 2019, its first annual report can be filed anytime between January 1st 2020 and May 1st 2020, then before May 1st each subsequent year.
Late Filings: Florida charges a $400 penalty if you miss the May 1st filing deadline. In addition, failure to file your annual report by the third week of September will cause your LLC to be dissolved.
Avoid Automatic Dissolution
LLCs may face fines and even automatic dissolution when they miss one or more state filings. When this happens, LLC owners risk loss of limited liability protection. A quality registered agent service can help prevent this outcome by notifying you of upcoming filing deadlines, and even submitting reports on your behalf for an additional fee.
Recommended: ZenBusiness offers a reliable registered agent service and excellent customer support.
Make Running Your Business Easier
After starting a business, two of the most important things you can do are get professional accounting and hire the right employees. Streamlining these processes can save you time and money as your business grows.
If you plan to hire employees, stay compliant with the law by following these steps:
- Verify that new employees are able to work in the US
- Report employees as "new hires" to the State
- Provide workers' compensation insurance for employees
- Withhold employee taxes
- Print compliance posters and place them in visible areas of your work space
Recommended: Check out our Hiring for your Small Business Guide for resources like sample job descriptions, payroll service reviews, and more.
FAQ: Hiring Employees
What is the minimum wage in Florida
The minimum wage in Florida is $8.46 per hour
How often do I need to pay employees?
Florida has no specified regulations on pay frequency. However Federal law states that you must have a consistent pay frequency. Typically most employers pay on a semi-monthly basis.
It’s critical to get your books in order-- even if you haven’t officially opened for business. A well managed accounting system will help you:
- Track your business finances, including bills, expenses and income.
- Simplify your annual tax filings.
The right software makes accounting easy. Look for software that:
- Syncs with your bank automatically.
- Matches transactions to invoices, bills and purchase orders.
- Can be accessed from your phone.
Recommended: QuickBooks has all the accounting features your small business will need.
We understand that creating an LLC and getting your business up and running comes with many challenges. To help you succeed, we compiled the best local resources in every major metro area in Florida. You can get free assistance in the following areas:
Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. If you have an existing LLC and want to do business in Florida, you will need to register as a foreign LLC. This can be done by mail.
Register as a Foreign LLC in Florida
File a Foreign LLC by Mail
Fee: $125 (Nonrefundable)
Division of Corporations
P.O. Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
A Certificate of Good Standing, known in Florida as a Certificate of Status, verifies that your LLC was legally formed and has been properly maintained. Several instances where you might need to get one include:
- Seeking funding from banks or other lenders
- Forming your business as a foreign LLC in another state
- Obtaining or renewing specific business licenses or permits
You can order a Certificate of Status either online or by mail.
Order a Certificate of Good Standing
Request a Certificate Online through the Florida Department of State
Fee: $8.75 (Nonrefundable)
If at any point in the future you no longer wish to conduct business with your LLC, it is important to officially dissolve it. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can result in tax liabilities and penalties, or even legal trouble. To dissolve your LLC, there are two broad steps:
- Close your business tax accounts
- File the Articles of Dissolution
When you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Florida LLC Dissolution Guide.
Read More About LLCs and How to Run a Business
State of Florida Quick Links
- Florida Department of State - Division of Corporations
- Florida Department of Revenue
- Contact Division of Corporations - Florida Department of State
- Workers' Compensation - My Florida CFO
- SBA's Small Business Resource for North Florida
- SBA's Small Business Resource for South Florida
- Florida LLC Statutes