How to Start an LLC in Florida: Step-By-Step

Written by Ryan Duffy – Attorney, updated on

If you have decided to open a business in the state of Florida, it is often most advantageous to open the business as an LLC.

The formation of an LLC in the state of Florida requires some registration steps to be completed. Until you have followed this process, your business will not be legally registered with the state.

If you are thinking about forming a limited liability company (LLC) in the state of Florida, all you need to do is follow this guide.


Table of Contents


Step 1: Choose a Name for Your LLC

The name of your LLC is important for marketing purposes. But it also has to meet Florida requirements.

Every Florida LLC name must:

  • Include L.L.C., LLC, or Limited Liability Company
  • Be unique and not cause confusion with an existing business name
  • Avoid using terms related to illegal activities or government agencies

Once you have a name in mind, go to the Division of Corporations Name Search. Make sure that your name is free to use and isn’t too similar to an existing business.

search names in LLC database

Some business owners like to operate under a name other than the LLC’s legal name. Many places call this a “doing-business-as” (DBA) name. In Florida, this is known as a fictitious name.

You can register a Florida fictitious name online or through the mail. A $50 fee applies and it is valid for five years.

Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent

Florida requires that each LLC designates a registered agent. This person receives the tax forms for the business. It is also responsible for the receipt of legal documents.

The business owner can be the registered agent. Or you can choose to hire a professional registered agent service.

If you opt to be appointed as the registered agent, you will need to provide your address and be available during business hours. You also must sort through junk mail without missing critical notices.

Many people choose to hire a registered agent service because it:

  • Protects your privacy since the address is public information
  • Eliminates the chance of being served with a lawsuit in front of customers
  • Allows you to focus on other important business functions

The fee for hiring registered agent services ranges from around $100 to $300 a year.

Step 3: Create and Submit the Articles of Organization

Now it’s time for one of the most exciting steps. The Articles of Organization is the document that creates your Florida LLC. It transforms your idea into a legal entity.

The Articles of Organization include:

  • LLC’s principal address
  • Registered agent name, address, and signature
  • Name and address for all LLC managers if it is member-managed
  • Effective date of the LLC, which can be up to five business days before the filing date or 90 days after
  • Signature of an authorized representative

LLCs from other states need to fill out the Qualification of Foreign LLC form. Then file it with a certificate of good standing from the original filing state.

You can file the Articles of Organization online. Or you can mail them to the Florida Division of Corporations. A $125 fee applies.

Articles of Organization in Florida

Step 4: Receive a Certificate from the State

Once processed, Florida will send you an official notification that your business filing has been approved. This is an essential document that you need to keep with the LLC’s records.

It is used for tax purposes to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). And it is needed to get LLC business licenses and business bank accounts.

Step 5: Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is central to any LLC’s formation process, especially if there is more than one member. It is an agreement between LLC owners about how to handle many situations.

Without one, the LLC falls back to state law to resolve disputes. Instead of being blindsided by default laws, an operating agreement spells out how to proceed. It also protects your interests.

Operating agreements can cover things like how to:

  • Identify the rights and duties of members
  • Add or remove members
  • Allocate profits and losses
  • Resolve various disputes

Although Florida doesn’t require an operating agreement, it is best practice to have one. It is a legally binding contract that ensures your LLC functions as you intend.

You can create an operating agreement with free or low-cost templates. Or you can hire an attorney to customize one for your LLC. Expect to pay upwards of $1,000 or more if you hire an attorney.

Step 6: Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to track businesses. It’s a business tax ID, sort of like a Social Security number.

All multi-member LLCs must get an EIN. The IRS also requires single-member LLCs to get one if they hire employees or have other specific situations that apply.

EINs may also be necessary to file annual reports, create vendor contracts, and open business bank accounts.

The IRS has an easy online process to get an EIN. It is free and takes about 15 minutes. These filing instructions may help.

Costs to Set Up an LLC in Florida

The cost of forming an LLC in Florida will typically range from $125 to $200 in state filing fees.

Optional costs to starting an LLC in Florida include:

  • $50 fictitious name
  • $100 to $300 to hire a registered agent
  • $1,000 or more for an operating agreement from an attorney

Annual reporting fees are about $100 to $500 in the state of Florida. There are also smaller fees that you might be assessed depending on the kind of business that you operate.

Last Steps

Once you form your Florida LLC, there are a handful of other steps worth taking care of.

Business Bank Account

You should open a business bank account first and foremost. This helps with bookkeeping at tax time. But it’s also a critical step to separate your personal and business finances.

Without a business bank account, your personal asset protection can disappear if your LLC gets sued.

To open an account, you’ll need to show proof of LLC formation. Typical business account fees range from free to about $25, depending on the bank, your deposit amount, and the services included.

Taxes, Licenses, and Permits

Make sure that you secure permits and licensing as required for your business in Florida. These licenses and permits can vary based on where you do business and where you live.

Start with the Florida Department of Revenue. Your LLC may need certain approval or be subject to things like sales tax. See Florida's New Business Start-up Kit to review what your LLC needs.

You also may need to get city and county approval.

For example, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami both have licensing requirements. The City of Fort Lauderdale and others have needs too.

Other Considerations

Consider hiring a skilled tax professional if you do not feel comfortable filing business taxes on your own. LLC taxes are less complicated than corporate taxes, but they can still be a challenge for inexperienced owners.

You should also investigate insurance coverage. A general liability or workers’ compensation policy can be extremely valuable if the need arises.

Learning from seasoned business owners can uncover the road to success. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce to connect with knowledgeable peers. The Florida SBDC has a network of mentors that provide no-cost consulting.

When you’re ready to get the ball rolling, start by going to the Florida business name search to see if your idea is available. Then continue plowing through each step.

In a short time, you will form your Florida LLC and be able to start conducting business in the Sunshine State

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Last updated: May 2024
Ryan Duffy

Article by:

Ryan Duffy

Attorney

Ryan Duffy is an attorney based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a litigator at heart, but also has experience with business law and incorporation, with a focus on small businesses. Ryan enjoys spending time with his family and going hiking in the North Carolina mountains.

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