How to Start an LLC in Florida

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 15, 2023

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Florida offers many benefits. Flexible taxation, limited liability for members and an unlimited number of members are a few of the main reasons to choose an LLC. But how to start an LLC in Florida can seem confusing at first. Here you'll find six simple steps to create an LLC and start operating in Florida. 

Why Start an LLC in Florida?

A person might choose Florida to start an LLC for many reasons. The main advantage of an LLC is that it's easy to set up a legal structure to run a business and protect your personal assets. LLCs provide pass-through taxation, meaning that you can report profits on your individual income tax return rather than having to file separately for the business. Pass-through taxation means you won't be double-taxed as a new business owner, further simplifying administrative paperwork and costs.  

6 Steps for How to Start an LLC in Florida

The Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations sets the rules, requirements and costs to form an LLC in Florida. Here's a closer look at six simple steps of how to start an LLC in Florida. 

Step 1: Determine LLC Name

The LLC name you choose will be the legal name of your business. Pick an LLC name that is unique and not already taken. A distinctive, authentic and memorable business name that resonates with your target audience is foundational to business success. 

Ideally, it can serve to build trust with your consumers and be easy to remember. According to Florida law, all names must end with "limited liability company" or the abbreviations LLC or L.L.C.

Once you've settled on top name choices, you'll want to ensure they're not already taken. Start by checking the Florida DoC registry to ensure there's no company already registered with that name. If the names are clear in the Florida registry, do a quick Google search to see if other businesses have similar names; this is important for website branding and organic search traffic. Finally, you should also check the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to ensure the name isn't trademarked for the goods or services you plan to offer. 

You can reserve an LLC business name by submitting a letter to the Florida Secretary of State with your desired business name, full legal name and current address. For a fee of $25, you can hold the LLC name for 120 days. 

Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent

LLCs must have a registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or legal firm that receives mail and official correspondence on behalf of your business. 

In Florida, you may act as the registered agent. You also have the option to appoint an employee or hire a third party, like a registered agent service. To be a registered agent in Florida, you must be 18 years or older and a Florida resident, and you need a physical address in the state. 

The physical address of the registered agent is called the registered office and can be the same as your LLC business address, although the LLC can't be its own registered agent. 

Step 3: File Articles of Organization

Once you have decided on a name, registered agent and LLC members, it's time to file articles of organization with the Florida Department of State's Division of Corporations. You can do the filing online or print and mail the completed forms.

Foreign or out-of-state entities can also apply for an LLC to transact business in Florida, but they must fill out separate paperwork and can't submit it online. Florida charges a $125 filing fee for both domestic and foreign LLC applications.

Step 4: Obtain an EIN

Once you have created an LLC, you'll need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Getting an EIN allows the company to hire employees and open a business bank account. An EIN allows you to file taxes for the LLC as a separate entity. It also adds credibility to the business, builds trust with vendors and can speed up business loan approvals. 

In Florida, if you have an LLC with employees or multiple owners or elect to be taxed as an S-corporation, you must apply for an EIN.

Step 5: Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement facilitates the daily operations of the LLC. While Florida law doesn't require LLCs to have an operating agreement, it can simplify operations by ensuring all members are in agreement about hiring, distribution of profits and dissolution. 

Once the document is complete, have all members review it, suggest any amendments, and sign the final agreement. Elements an operating agreement should include:

  • The LLC's purpose, including products or services offered
  • Names and addresses of all LLC members
  • Each member's role within the LLC, including their stake in the company, profit share and voting rights
  • Procedure for admitting new members
  • Procedure for electing a manager or hiring employees
  • A schedule of meetings 
  • Voting procedures
  • Terms for dissolution of the LLC and relevant procedures

You can find sample templates of LLC operating agreements online and adapt them to your business needs. Some new LLC owners also choose an online legal service or business lawyer to draft a simple operating agreement. 

Step 6: Obtain Necessary Licenses and Permits

Permits and licenses will depend on the type of business you operate in Florida. You'll only need a business license in Florida for certain business activities, including regulated industries. For example, you'll need a seller's permit from the Florida Department of Revenue if you're selling or leasing property. In addition to state-wide requirements, you should check with your local city and county for local licensing requirements. 

The following are some of the professionals who require licenses to work in Florida:

  • Accountants
  • Architects
  • Barbers and cosmetologists
  • Construction contractors
  • Engineers
  • Insurance agents
  • Interior designers 
  • Lawyers
  • Medical professionals
  • Real estate brokers
  • Security services

Advantages of Forming an LLC in Florida

  • Legal protection (limited liability)
  • Flow-through taxation option to prevent double taxation
  • Option to pay taxes as a business entity
  • Option to convert to an S-corporation and pay yourself
  • Less paperwork than a C-corporation
  • Unlimited LLC members
  • Fast to set up and easy to maintain (with fewer requirements than a corporation)

Disadvantages of Forming an LLC in Florida

  • Annual report requirements
  • Registration fees
  • Annual fees
  • Hard to raise capital for the business

Forming Your Florida LLC

A Florida LLC is simple to set up and inexpensive to maintain. It requires minimal follow-up while lending authority to your business and legally protecting personal assets. You can use name research and market research for the LLC to launch your newly branded LLC and build customer trust. Ready for the next step? Learn more about the best LLC services here

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q

How much does it cost to start an LLC in Florida?

A

The fees for a new Florida LLC are $125. You may have additional fees if you hire a lawyer or registered agent to assist with the filing.

Q

How long does it take to get approved for an LLC in Florida?

A

You should be able to get legal approval for an LLC in Florida within 15 business days.

Q

Can a single person start an LLC in Florida?

A

Yes, a single person can start an LLC in Florida. This type of entity is called a single-owner LLC or single-member LLC.

About Alison Plaut

Alison Kimberly is a freelance content writer with a Sustainable MBA, uniquely qualified to help individuals and businesses achieve the triple bottom line of environmental, social, and financial profitability. She has been writing for various non-profit organizations for 15+ years. When not writing, you will find her promoting education and meditation in the developing world, or hiking and enjoying nature.