How to Start an LLC in Florida: Step by Step

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Estimated reading time: 14 minutes

With its sunny skies and crystal blue water, it’s not surprising that so many people flock to Florida to live. And when it comes to forming an LLC, Florida is at the top of the list.

This is largely due to its growing economy, which is a tax advantage over small businesses in other states. So, now it’s time to learn how to start a business in Florida.

Lucky for you, in this blog post, we’ll take you step by step through the process of how to start an LLC in Florida, including general requirements you need to prepare for and the resources you need to succeed. This way you can learn the ins and outs of opening a business in Florida.

Choose a Business Entity

To understand how to start a small business in Florida, you need to understand entity formation. The most popular entity structures are Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and Corporations. We’ll explain the differences below, but this article will focus on LLCs.

A corporation

A corporation is a legal entity created separately from those who own and operate it. A corporation’s debts and taxes are separate from its owners, thereby offering the greatest personal liability protection and asset protection of all business structures. The two most common types of corporations are S and C corporations.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

LLCs are the most popular business structure. This is because they blending the aspects of corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships into a simple and flexible business entity. Like corporations, LLC formation protects the owners and operators from personal liability, and they possess the “pass-through” tax benefits of a partnership. LLCs can be run as single-member LLCs or multi-member LLCs.

So, as you can see, starting an LLC in Florida isn’t difficult once you understand the ins and outs of this powerful entity structure. It will be even easier if you let Inc Authority create an LLC in Florida for you.

Our entity-setup service is 100% free.
We’ll waive our service charges, labor costs, and overhead. You only pay the state fees and postage, which are mandatory regardless of who incorporates for you. Start now for free!

What About DBAs?

DBAs (which stands for “doing business as”) grants business owners the ability to conduct business under an assumed name. A DBA is also referred to as a fictitious business name and is an authorization by the state for your business to operate under an assumed name. 

For sole proprietors and owners of LLCs, DBAs offer a cheap way to gain legal recognition for the secondary name of your choice.

  • Sole proprietors: For sole proprietors starting a new business, DBAs are a budget-conscious way to gain legal status and work under a creative company name.
  • LLC owners: If the name on your LLC paperwork and your business name differ, DBAs offer the opportunity to operate as an LLC under a different legal name.

Florida State Fees

The state filing fee is often the most expensive cost of forming an LLC or corporation. Luckily, when it comes to this for for an LLC, Florida’s is pretty cheap coming in at only $125. You pay this fee to file a document called the Certificate of Formation with the Texas Secretary of State.

You also might want to file what most states call a Certificate of Good Standing (called a Certificate of Status in Florida). 

A Certificate of Status is used to say that a company is authorized and incorporated to conduct business in a certain state. The Certificate of Status is used to demonstrate two important things:

  1. The company has been in existence from the time of incorporation; and
  2. that no action is currently being undertaken in order to remove the company from the register.
Florida State Filing Fee:$125
Florida State Filing Time:3 – 4 business days
Certificate of Good Standing$5

Mailing address:

The Centre of Tallahassee
2415 N. Monroe Street, Suite 810
Tallahassee, FL 32303

Our entity-setup service is 100% free.
We’ll waive our service charges, labor costs, and overhead. You only pay the state fees and postage, which are mandatory regardless of who incorporates for you. Start now for free!

Create a Business Name

To open a company in Florida, you to figure out your business name. It’s actually one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. It may not seem as important as choosing the type business entity, but it is. As a matter of fact, many legal issues can arise from choosing the wrong name for your business startup. So, let’s look at how to register a business name in Florida:

  • First off, come up with a unique business name that captures what your business will do, is easy to pronounce, and isn’t era specific or too niche. This is easier said than done, so take your time.
  • Once you’ve decided on a name, do a name search on the web to make sure no one is using it. This may force you to go back to the drawing board. You might also want to check if your desired website URL name is already taken, then plan for an alternative,
  • After doing a basic search, you’ll need to do a more thorough trademark search. This is an important step that can lead to a lawsuit if done incorrectly. A good rule of thumb to follow when doing a trademark search is to search for misspellings, plurals, variations of spelling, abbreviation, sound-alike and more…

Register Your Business

Now that you’ve decided on an entity structure and created an original business name, here’s how to register an LLC in Florida.

Articles of Organization

You only need to file your Articles of Organization with the State of Florida’s Division of Corporations once, but you will need to file a biennial report for your LLC, which has its own fees.

There are three ways to do this. You can download and mail in your Florida Articles of Organization, create an account and file online, or have Inc Authority file do it on your behalf. If you decide to take a crack at on your own, you can either file it online on Florida’s Sunbiz website or it can be mailed with your $125 filing fee.

Below is the information that must be included in the articles of incorporation to ensure the state approves them:

  1. Entity Name
  2. Location of LLC Office
  3. Service of Process Address
  4. Registered Agent Address and Signature
  5. LLC Purpose
  6. Manager/Authorized Representative
  7. Effective and Dissolution Dates

When it comes to Florida LLC filing, you only need to file your Articles of Organization with the State of Florida once, but an annual report must be filed each year for your business entity to maintain an “active status” with the Department of State. In Florida, this fee is $138.75 with a $400 late fee if your fees are not paid in time.

Operating Agreement

Once you complete the state filing of your Florida LLC Articles of Organization, and after they’ve been approved, you’ll need to properly organize your LLC with an Operating Agreement.

Florida law requires every LLC business owner to file an Operating Agreement, regardless of whether the company has one or multiple members. Your Operating Agreement will outline the structure and purpose of your company as determined by your LLC members and will bind all the members of your LLC.

Issues that should be defined by your LLC Operating Agreement include:

  • Member powers
  • Rules for meetings
  • Members’ voting rights
  • How your LLC will be managed
  • Guidelines for losses and profits
  • Buyout provisions

Once the Operating Agreement has been adopted, it will provide protection for the members of your LLC. When the members of your LLC have agreed to the terms of your Operating Agreement and have signed the document, you should keep the agreement in a secure location.

Inc Authority can remind you to do or do for you if you choose to have us handle the paperwork. 

Get Your Employer Identification Number or EIN

The next step in understanding how to start a business in Florida is getting your EIN or Tax ID Number (TIN). This federal number is like your business’s social security number, separating you from your business. This protects you from fraud and identity theft.

Additionally, an EIN is required by your bank to open a Business Checking Account, file tax returns, obtain payroll services, and credit cards.

Attain Your Business Licenses and Permits

Getting the proper licenses and permits for your small business is crucial to creating an LLC in Florida. These licenses and permits authorize your company to do business in your city/county.

Florida makes getting the required licenses easy with their Florida Department of State website. It’s a robust system that helps entrepreneurs discover what licenses/permits they need. Remember, license requirements vary depending on your operating city county and industry. 

Check with local small business offices, often part of the County Clerk or branch of the city government, to learn more. The Small Business Association (SBA) also offers expertise in finding local forms and permits or you can use an online business license service provider to obtain the proper licenses and permits for you.

Lastly, when it comes to getting licenses/permits for your LLC, Florida (like most states) requires them to be renewed annually or in some cases, biennially. You can note these renewal dates on your own, or let Inc Authority send you reminders as it gets closer to the date.

Get a Registered Agent

There are an estimated 38 million home-based businesses in the U.S., so if you’re thinking about starting a business in your home, you’re definitely not alone.

But, did you know that all businesses are required by law to have an address where they can accept service of legal documents (like a service of process) from the state or government agencies during normal business days and business hours? Without a Registered Agent, that address is your home street address or P.O. box.

As you can imagine, that’s not always possible (or advisable) with a home-based or foreign-filed business. That’s where a registered agent comes in.

A registered agent is a responsible third-party in the same state as your business who receives official government notifications (usually tax forms and notice of lawsuits) on behalf of your LLC .

Even if you aren’t planning on starting a home-based business or foreign LLC, having a registered agent is still advisable because it will:

  • Limit third party access to your personal information
  • Ensure that you never miss important documents
  • Protect the privacy of owners
  • Eliminate junk mail
  • Ensure you’re never served with legal papers in front of your clients
  • And more!

How to Set up Registered Agent Service in Florida

While it is possible to act as your own registered agent, lawyers do not advise that. That’s why most companies hire a third-party (a professional service) to act as their registered agent.

Why not let Inc Authority act as your registered agent. We’ll be the buffer between your business’ legal matters and your physical place of business. That way, anyone trying to locate you, or the LLC must first come through us.

Learn more about our registered agent services here.

Open a Business Bank Account

To keep your personal and business expenses separate and to stay in good standing with the IRS, you need to open a business bank account for your LLC or corporation.

Setting up a separate bank account for your company makes it easier to for you do business, manage a cash balance, complete and file your income tax returns with the state of Texas, deduct business expenses for taxes, conduct proper accounting, and execute employee payroll. It also provides better protection if someone takes legal action against your company.

Additionally, business bank accounts create historical relevance through the relationship established with the bank, and can create unrestricted access to long-term funding options, business credit cards, and other financial solutions.

Types of Business Bank Accounts

Not all business bank accounts are created equal. That’s why it’s important to distinguish between the good, the bad, and the best business bank accounts.

Checking Accounts

A business checking is the most common type of business bank account and the first one you’ll want to open for your business. This because business check accounts allow you to: 

  • Accept deposits (over-the-counter cash, checks, credit card, and electronic deposits). 
  • Pay for business-related expenditures (payroll, taxes, business insurance, vendors, lenders, and everything imaginable that you’ll need to operate your business). 
  • Keep detailed records of all expenses and income.
  • Protect your money. This account is Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insured, meaning you’re covered up to $250,000 by the federal government should anything happen to the bank or your money.
  • Support dual signatures. If you have a partnership or employees, you may wish to make it required that two signatures be present whenever a withdrawal or deposit is made.

Savings Accounts

This one should come as no surprise. A business savings account (like a personal savings accounts) lets you safely save money in a bank.  You don’t need this right away though, only when you have an abundance of capital sitting in your business checking account, will you need to open a savings account. It allows you to: 

  • Make saving money a habit. The most successful companies (think blue chips like Wal-Mart, Amazon, General Mills, Hershey’s, and General Electric) all have solid reserves of capital.
  • Protect your business during a cash-crunch. Incidentally, 80% of businesses fail because of cash flow problems.
  • Save money so that you don’t have to take out expensive business loans.
  • Maintain liquidity. With a business savings account, you can liquidate assets to buy equipment, purchase real estate, and make other big purchases for your business. 
  • Build business credit. Yes, having a business savings account can actually help you establish and build business credit.

Certificate of Deposits

A business certificate of deposit (CD) is a term account that offers maximum security and a guaranteed rate of return. You agree to lend your business’s money to the bank for a set period of time at an agreed-upon interest rate. The interest rates are usually higher than you’d receive from a business savings account or interest-bearing business checking account. 

Here are the main features of a business certificate of deposit:

  • It pays out 1% or more in interest. Some CDs pay over 2% in interest
  • You cannot liquidate the account until the term expires. This means you can’t spend the money. 
  • The longer the term, the higher the interest rate.
  • Different banks offer different term limits. Some CD terms are for a week, months, or even years.

Money Market Accounts

This is a lesser known type of business a bank account and isn’t for every business owner. You’ll want this type of account if you have a lot of money saved, want higher interest rates than a business savings account or interest-bearing business checking account, but still want some access to your money.

Here are the main features of a business money market account:

  • Six withdrawals per month. 
  • Deposit money anytime.
  • Deposit as much money as you like.
  • Higher interest rates (currently between .1% and 1.6% APY)
  • Require a minimum balance. 
  • Penalties if you withdraw more than six times in a month. Ask your banker what the penalty is if you withdraw more than six times.

How to Open a Business Bank Account

Opening a business bank account is as simple as gathering some information together and completing an application. Here are the steps to open a business checking account:

  1. Do your due diligence. Research different banks and discover what each one offers. Then decide which one will work best for your business type. An easy way to do this research is to check out some of our business bank reviews.
  2. Get a tax ID number. You can get one free EIN from the IRS. If you think you already have one, here’s how to look up an EIN.
  3. Gather your business formation documents.
  4. Gather your business license or business name filing paperwork.
  5. Call the bank and find out what other items you’ll need to open a business bank account. Every bank has different requirements, so make sure you check with them first before attempting to open a business bank account. Sometimes you’ll find this information listed on the bank’s website.
  6. Go in person or online to complete all necessary paperwork and submit your business documents.

At Inc Authority, we make getting a business bank account easy. How so? Well, when you form your business with us, you gain access to a free Bank of America business checking account. So, don’t wait! Form your Florida LLC today!

Filing Business Taxes 

Filing business taxes is the least enjoyable part of running any business, but to stay in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and save thousands of dollars, you need to properly file your taxes.

LLCs in Florida (as in most states) are treated as corporations or limited liability partnerships. Because of this, when you form an LLC in Florida, it’s subject to Florida’s state taxes such as the Florida Franchise Tax (for corporations), which conforms to federal income tax classifications.

Depending on the type of taxation you chose for your LLC, the tax responsibilities are as follows:

  • An LLC treated as a limited liability partnership. Your LLC is required to file the Form IT-204, or Partnership Return Form with the state of Florida.
  • An LLC treated as a C corporation for federal tax purposes, or an S corporation. These LLCs are required to file a Texas State Corporation Franchise Tax Return.
  • An LLC treated as a sole proprietorship. These LLCs must report all business income and expenses via the sole proprietor’s personal income tax returns.

By law, some LLCs are required to pay an LLC filing fee or an estimated income tax on behalf of certain partners or members.

Let’s get started

Deciding to start an LLC in Florida is exciting, but like starting most businesses it can be overwhelming. Why not let the business experts at Inc Authority do all the heavy lifting for you?

We’ll form your LLC or corporation, run a business name check, get your EIN, and make sure you have all the licenses and permits needed to run your business in Florida.

Not to mention we offer a ton of free management tools to help make running your business as simple as possible. Contact us today to get started!

Incorporating is the most powerful thing you can do to legitimize your startup. And at IncAuthority.com, our setup LLC services are 100% free. Always. So, don’t wait. Form your new LLC today and enjoy the protection due to you and your business under the law.

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