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Starting an LLC in Florida: Formation Guide

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Limited Liability Corporations, or LLCs, are one of many types of business structures that business owners in Florida gravitate toward. They’re easy to set up, give owners management and profit distribution flexibility, protect their assets, provide significant tax advantages (flow-through taxation), and have few recordkeeping and reporting requirements. LLCs are adaptable and straightforward structures that are perfect for many small business owners.

If you’re wondering about starting an LLC in Florida, and how long it takes to form one, this Florida LLC guide will provide the steps you need to take.

1. Choose a Unique Business Name

When choosing a name for your LLC in Florida, make sure it’s unique and distinguishable, not easily confused with other businesses recorded by the Florida Department of State, not subject to additional restrictions, and not being used by other companies. You must also ensure that your chosen business name:

  • Includes the following phrases or abbreviations: Limited Liability Company (L.L.C. or LLC), Professional Liability Corporation (PLLC or P.L.L.C), or Chartered
  • Doesn’t make others confuse your organization with government agencies (FBI, Treasury, etc.)
  • Doesn’t contain restricted words, like any words implying an unauthorized purpose for your business
  • Meets additional requirements as set forth by Florida Statutes

2. Complete a Business Name Search

After finding a suitable name, you should conduct a business name search. This process ensures that no other business is using the selected name when starting an LLC in Florida. To avoid issues, don’t use the name until after you’ve filed and received an acknowledgment from the Division of Corporations that you’re clear to use it for your business.

3. Obtain an Official Address for Your Florida LLC

Florida law requires that you have a principal office for your LLC. This address can be a shop, office, home, or other location. It can’t be a post office box and must be a street address. It will be used on your LLC’s public record.

4. Choose a Registered Agent

Florida law requires that you have a registered agent for your LLC. A registered agent is an individual or business that receives official documentation, process services, tax, and business documents for the LLC. They also receive any legal paperwork in the event of a lawsuit or summons.

Any registered agent you select should:

  • Be a Florida state resident who is 18 years or older or a company that provides registered agent services in Florida
  • Maintain a registered office in Florida
  • Be willing and able to accept legal and business documents on behalf of the LLC during business hours

Keep in mind that there is a fee to designate your registered agent with the Florida State Department.

5. File Your Articles of Organization

Once you’ve obtained any required information for your business and are ready to proceed with starting an LLC in Florida, you’ll file state-mandated Articles of Organization. This legal document establishes the company as an LLC and is submitted to the state on behalf of the corporation. Articles of Organization include the following:

  • The name of the business
  • The mailing address of the company
  • The name of the registered agent
  • The registered agent’s address
  • Contact information for any incorporators, members, or LLC owners
  • Whether there is any stock for the LLC, and how much each member owns

Once you’re ready to file your Articles of Organization, you will pay a fee to file them with the Florida State Department.

6. Obtain an EIN for your LLC in Florida

An EIN or Federal Tax Identification Number is a unique nine-digit number that a business receives from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help them identify the tax accounts of companies and their tax returns. It is needed to form an LLC and can be obtained online.

7. Create an Operating Agreement

LLCs in Florida are not required to have Operating Agreements, but this document can be like an “instruction manual” for your business. It can provide detailed explanations for:

  • Setting up the organization
  • Helping members understand and fulfill their roles
  • Detailing the corporation’s goals and overall mission
  • Dissolving the LLC, if needed

An Operating Agreement can also include instructions for certain business process, like:

  • How members will operate the business
  • How the corporation will be divided
  • Whether the LLC will be a single- or a multi-membered LLC
  • What happens if a member leaves the corporation

8. Register for any Florida Business Licenses or Permits

When starting an LLC in Florida, Florida doesn’t force all LLCs to have state-wide operating licenses. However, some businesses will be required to obtain a license or a permit based on the type of goods or services they provide.

Need Additional Help Starting an LLC in Florida?

Setting up an LLC can be a great way to protect your assets, receive tax benefits, and manage your business. The good news is that you can set one up quickly using an affordable online formation service.

Disclaimer

This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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