How To Start an LLC in Florida
Looking to start an LLC in Florida? Then you’re on the right page. Read on and learn how to start an LLC in Florida in 3 simple steps. Check out our recommendations for the top Florida LLC filing services below.
Start an LLC in Alabama in 4 simple steps
- Choose a unique name for your business
- Select your Florida registered agent
- File your Florida LLC articles with the secretary of state
What is an LLC?
An LLC or ‘limited liability company’ is a U.S. business structure that provides the owners with a level of legal protection by not making them personally liable for the company’s legal responsibilities or debts.
Now, let’s review the steps required for you to incorporate an LLC business and obtain LLC protection. Each U.S. state has its own set of guidelines for starting an LLC, however as this article focuses on Florida, the following is a full guide to starting your Florida LLC on your own.
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Step 1: Choose a unique name for your Florida LLC
Choosing a name for your Florida LLC is not as easy as it looks. First, you will need an original and one-of-a-kind name that is not currently being used by any other business in Florida. If you already have a business name in mind, make sure that it is yours for the taking. You can check your tentative LLC name by visiting the Florida Division of Corporation’s Sunbiz website.
The search results should show ‘No Matching Entries Found,’ which tells you that you can proceed with your chosen LLC name. From here, you need to be aware of some of the name rules of the Florida LLCs.
Here is a quick summary of the main guidelines:
- Your business name must be unique and cannot be used by any other LLC or business in Florida
- Your business name must have “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC” towards the end of the final company name
- The name cannot have resemblance to any name of a federal or Florida agency or organization including but not limited to FBI, FDA, Florida Department of Revenue, Florida Police, Treasury, etc
We recommend that you check if your website domain is available from the get-go, even if you don’t have plans of launching a website for your business now. If you’re proactive, you can prevent other businesses from snagging a URL that you may want to use in the future.
Step 2: Select your Florida LLC registered agent
All Florida LLCs must have a registered agent. This person is responsible for receiving official government documents, tax correspondence, and legal notices. Part of the responsibility is also filing the needed reports with the Florida Secretary of State. They are your LCC’s point-of-contact with the Florida government, in short.
This position can be yourself, another manager in your LLC, or a professional registered agent service. You can check out our registered agent review page to better understand why we highly recommend that you appoint a professional registered agent service. (See our recommended services below)
Should you pay for the services and expertise of a registered agent service, it is essential that they have a physical address in Florida and should always be available to receive documents on behalf of your company during standard business hours.
Fortunately, we’ve got not one, but two industry-leading recommendations for you!
BEST FOR: Register your LLC company
As the name suggests, there’s no need to ruin your Zen under the weight of legal jargon – ZenBusiness is one of the most reliable registered agent services in Florida, with thousands of positive reviews and high ratings.
With ZenBusiness you can register your business in less than 10 minutes. You can also use their registered agent service for $199/year and take advantage of their worry free compliance service so you can focus on running and growing your business.
Additionally, ZenBusiness provides you with a virtual dashboard, so you have 100% visibility of the forms and documents of your company. You can review them, download documents, and even print them to have a personal copy for any business or legal reasons.
Read our full ZenBusiness review
BEST FOR: Professional registered agent service
Northwest Registered Agent is a well-established registered agent service with two decades of experience. They allow you to add a registered agent in multiple states (if your business requires it) and can cover all of your Florida LLC registration needs.
Northwest Registered Agent gives you an online portal to easily access your uploaded documents and state forms. You can check anytime, anywhere while ensuring that all your information is secure.
Read our full Northwest Registered Agent review
Step 3: File your Florida LLC articles with the secretary of state
Once all the information for your Florida LLC is complete, you can start filing the ‘Articles of Organization,’ known in Florida as ‘Certificate of Formation’. You need to file the form with the Florida Department of State.
Filing your Certificate of Formation can be accomplished in several ways:
On Sunbiz.org website.
Florida Department of State
The Centre of Tallahassee
2415 N. Monroe Street, Suite 810
Tallahassee, FL 32303
You’ll be charged a $125 fee for filing and starting an LLC. You only need to file this document once but you are required to file and pay the annual report every year. There is an additional fee for that.
You cannot expedite the process. Florida processes LLC filings in the order they are received.
Additional Florida LLC services and requirements
Procure an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS
The essential information you need when you file and pay your taxes or when you submit your LLC’s payroll information is your Employer Identification Number (EIN). The EIN is also termed the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN).
EIN must know!
The EIN is needed when planning to open a business bank account for your company and when you want to hire employees.
You can directly apply for your EIN in the following ways:
You can directly apply for your EIN from the Internal Revenue System website.
Download the application for EIN SS-4 Form and send it to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
The good news about getting an EIN is that it is for free! Once you have your EIN, your LLC is officially formed.
Create a Florida LLC operating agreement
We recommend you to create an operating agreement as soon as you register your LLC in Florida. It is the instruction manual that contains all relevant details of how you will run your business, how decisions are to be taken, etc. However, it is not legally required.
Settle Your Florida LLC tax obligations
Florida is a tax friendly state and LLCs are exempted from paying state income tax.
My LLC in Florida is registered – What’s next?
Congratulations on your LLC! Don’t forget that the process and legwork don’t stop here. After successfully forming your LLC, post guidelines can make your business organized, seamless, and less complicated.
Set the line between personal and business resources
It’s recommended that you separate your personal assets from your LLC. Assets such as your house, car, and other personal properties should not mix with your LLC’s assets. This way, if your Florida LLC gets sued, you can have peace of mind knowing that your valuables are safe and will not be dragged into the picture.
Open your business bank account
It will be easy and tempting to ‘borrow’ or refinance your LLC using your account when your LLC needs some financial uplift, but don’t. Just like your personal resources, your savings and money meant for personal use should be kept private. If you need funds to jump-start your business, you can always consider a business loan.
Secure a business credit card
This follows the same logic of keeping your personal properties from your business valuables. A business credit card will also help build your LLC’s credit history, which can help you in the future should you want to apply for a business loan. Make sure that you are making your payments on time!
Onboard a business accountant
A business accountant can oversee and ensure that your organization is not overpaying in taxes while at the same time making sure that you don’t have any penalties and other expensive tax errors. Having one also removes the responsibility of bookkeeping and payroll off your shoulders. You can focus on the other angles of growing your business.
Consider getting a business insurance
Regardless of how small your company is at the moment, growth and expansion are part of the long-term goal. Getting business insurance can help you feel secure from any possible risks. It can assist you in managing potential lawsuits or even malpractice and other business-triggered errors.
As a responsible and pro-employee organization, you’d also want to consider workers’ compensation insurance to provide coverage for your employees should there be any work-related injuries, sicknesses, or even death that may happen.
Frequently asked questions
How much does it cost to form an LLC in Florida?
Florida LLC State fee: $70
What’s the annual LLC report fee in Florida?
Most states refer to this fee as an Annual Report Fee but some states might have different names for this fee including:
- Annual Certificate
- Biennial Report
- Annual List of Members
- Business Privilege Tax Return
- Annual Registration Fee
- Biennial Statement
- Decennial Report
- Franchise Tax Report
- Periodic Report
Minimum FL state LLC Annual Fee: $25
Is a Trade Name mandatory for my business?
In Florida, most LLCs don’t need a ‘Doing Business As’ (DBA) or a trading name. The name you set for your LLC is your brand name, and you can accept payment under that name. It is recommended that you have a DBA when you have plans to do business under a different name.
How long is the processing time for my Articles of Organization?
If you filed it online and through the mail, the ideal turnaround time is five business days. This can be expedited, though, given that you’ll be willing to pay more. You may get it within the same day by adding $750, within a 4-hour window by paying $500 more, and within 24-hours for an additional fee of $350.
I already have an EIN from my sole proprietorship business. Do I need to get a new one for my LLC?
Yes, the Internal Revenue System mandates that sole proprietorships secure a new EIN when converting their business type to an LLC.