Starting a Florida LLC
A Florida Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a legal business structure used to protect your personal assets (home, car, bank account) in the event your company is sued.
An LLC can be used to operate a business, or an LLC can be used to hold your assets (such as real estate, vehicles, boats, and aircraft).
1. Florida LLC Name
Before filing the necessary paperwork to form your LLC with the Florida Department of State, you need to come up with a Florida LLC name that is unique and distinguishable.
Your desired Florida LLC name must be “distinguishable upon the records”. Meaning, it must be different from the names of all the existing businesses in the Department of State’s database.
Florida LLC Name Search:
Florida Department of State: Search by Entity Name
Limited Liability Company Designator
Your LLC name must end with a proper designator. Florida law allows the following designators:
- LLC (most common)
- Limited Liability Company
Your Florida LLC name cannot include a designator that makes it sound like a different type of legal entity. For example, your Florida LLC name cannot include the words or abbreviations Corporation, Corp., Inc., Incorporated, Limited Partnership, LP, L.P., or Trust.
2. Florida Registered Agent
In order to legally do business in the state of Florida, your LLC must always have a Florida Registered Agent on file with the Florida Division of Corporations. Your LLC needs a Registered Agent in order to receive Service of Process on its behalf. Service of Process includes legal documents such as notice of lawsuits, subpoenas, summons, and complaints.
A Florida Registered Agent receives any legal mail sent to your LLC and then forwards it to you. The companies that we recommend below will actually scan your mail and upload it to your online dashboard.
Your Florida LLC’s Registered Agent can be a person or another company (your LLC cannot be its own Registered Agent though). Your Registered Agent must have a physical street address in Florida (PO Boxes are not allowed) where delivery of Service of Process can be made.
If your LLC’s Registered Agent is a person, then he/she must be at least 18 years old and be a resident of Florida. As long as these requirements are met (including the Florida street address), a friend, or a family member can be your Florida LLC’s Registered Agent. You can also be your own Registered Agent in Florida.
Alternatively, if you don’t have an address in the state or prefer to keep your address off of the public records, then you can hire a Registered Agent Service.
If you want to hire a company to start your LLC in Florida, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent. Northwest has excellent customer service and they’ve been in business for more than 20 years. If you hire them to form your LLC, Northwest will also be your Registered Agent.
Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned and uploaded to your online account. Hiring Northwest can also help keep your address off of public records and protect your privacy.
3. Florida LLC Articles of Organization
The Florida Articles of Organization is the form you file to form your LLC with the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations.
Florida LLC filing fee: $125 (one-time fee)
Florida LLC approval times:
- Your Florida LLC will be approved in 1-2 business days if you file online.
- Your Florida LLC will be approved in 5-7 business days if you file by mail.
Note: Filing times may take longer due to the current global situation and government delays. Please see how long does it take to get an LLC in Florida.
Online filing: Articles of Organization for Florida LLC (e-File)
- Download and complete the form: Articles of Organization for Florida LLC (CR2E047)
- Pay by check or money order and make it payable to “Department of State”
- Send your completed Articles of Organization and $125 filing fee to:
New Filing Section
Division of Corporations
PO Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
LLC University® recommendation: We recommend filing online because the approval time is faster and the form is very simple.
Items listed in your Florida Articles of Organization:
- LLC name
- Principal office address
- Florida Registered Agent (name, street address, and signature)
- Name and address of each Member and/or Manager (Member-managed vs. Manager-managed LLC)
- Effective date
- Additional provisions (if applicable)
- Name and signature of your LLC Organizer
Florida LLC approval: After the Department of State approves your LLC in Florida, you will receive back a stamped and approved copy of your Articles of Organization, an Acknowledgment Letter, and a Certified Copy or Certificate of Status (if you ordered them). If you file online, these documents will be emailed to you. If you file by mail, they’ll be returned to you by regular mail.
Tip: If you need an extra copy of your Florida LLC’s Articles of Organization, you can also download it by searching your LLC on Sunbiz, then scrolling to the bottom and looking under “Document Images”.
4. Florida LLC Operating Agreement
If the Articles of Organization is the document that forms your Limited Liability Company, then the Florida LLC Operating Agreement is the document that governs it.
Unlike the Florida Articles of Organization, you don’t need to file your Operating Agreement with the Florida Department of State (or with any other agency for that matter). It’s an “internal document”, meaning you just keep a copy with your LLC/business records.
Tip: If your LLC has more than 1 Member (“Multi-Member LLC”) make sure each Member gets a copy of the Operating Agreement.
What does an Operating Agreement usually contain?
An Operating Agreement usually contains:
- The names of the LLC owners (called LLC Members)
- The duties and responsibilities of the owners, managers, and officers
- How much of the LLC each Member owns
- How profits and losses are distributed
- How the business entity is run
- How the LLC is managed
- How taxes are paid
Note: Operating Agreements are not limited in nature. If necessary, you can add any additional provisions/sections, as long as they are legal.
Why is having an Operating Agreement important?
It provides a written document for how to handle disputes and arguments among the Members. It spells out the “bylaws” of how your business is to be run. Having an Operating Agreement can also help maintain your personal liability protection (it’s very important to have if you ever end up in court).
Single-Member LLC & Multi-Member Florida LLCs: Regardless if your LLC has one Member or several Members, it’s always a good idea to have an Operating Agreement.
Florida LLC Operating Agreement template: We provide free Florida LLC Operating Agreement templates that you can download here: Florida LLC Operating Agreement.
5. Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)
After the Florida Department of State approves your LLC filing, the next step is to get a Florida EIN Number for your LLC from the IRS.
Important: Make sure to apply for your Federal Tax ID Number only after your Florida LLC is approved. If you don’t, and your LLC filing is rejected for some reason, you’ll have a Federal Tax ID Number connected to a non-existent LLC.
The LLC’s Federal Tax ID Number is similar to our Social Security Number. It identifies your business entity with the IRS and will be used for taxes and reporting.
A Federal Tax ID Number is also called:
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Federal Employer Number
- Federal Tax Number
- Tax ID Number
- Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
Needed for banking and more: Besides being used by the IRS for federal business taxes, you’ll need your LLC’s Federal Tax ID Number when you go to open an LLC business checking account. You’ll also use your LLC’s Federal Tax ID Number when operating with other businesses and for the registration of certain business licenses and permits.
Free ($0): Applying for a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN) with the IRS doesn’t cost anything. There is no application or registration fee.
Methods of applying: You can get a Federal Tax ID Number for your Florida LLC either online, by fax, or by mail.
- To apply online, use the EIN online application
- To apply by fax or regular mail, complete and sign Form SS-4
File online: we recommend using the EIN online application because of the extremely fast approval time of 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll get a PDF printout with your Federal Tax ID Number at the end of the application. The online application is only available Monday through Friday, from 7am to 10pm Eastern.
Important: You can only use the online EIN application if you have an SSN or ITIN.
If you cannot use the online application due to any of the reasons above, don’t worry. You can still apply for a Federal Tax ID Number by fax or mail (using Form SS-4).
File by fax: Complete and sign Form SS-4 and fax to the IRS at 855-641-6935. No cover letter is needed. Your EIN will be approved in approximately 4-5 business days.
File by mail: Complete and sign Form SS-4 and mail to the IRS at the address below. Your EIN will be approved in approximately 4-6 weeks.
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Non-US residents/foreigners: On line 7b, just write “Foreign” if you don’t have an SSN or ITIN. Also, if you are applying for a Federal Tax ID Number by fax and you are a foreigner, approval can take up to 6 weeks. For more information, please see how to get an EIN without SSN.
6. Florida LLC Annual Report
All LLCs in Florida must file a Florida LLC Annual Report every year in order to remain in “active” status and to avoid being administratively dissolved and shut down by the Department of State.
Florida LLC Annual Report filing fee: $138.75 (due every year).
Due date: Your Annual Report must be filed before May 1st every year. It can be filed as early as January 1st. Anything received after May 1st is late and will be assessed a hefty penalty.
Penalty: If your Florida LLC Annual Report is late, you are required to pay a $400 late fee (one of the most expensive in the country), bringing your total amount due to $538.75. If you continue to ignore the Florida Annual Report requirement (and fail to pay), the Department of State will shut down your LLC after the 4th Friday in September.
Note: Your first Annual Report is not due until the year following the year of your LLC’s formation. For example, if your LLC was formed anytime in 2022, your LLC’s Annual Report will not be due until sometime between January 1st and May 1st of 2023.
Method of filing: The Florida Division of Corporations only allows you to file your LLC’s Annual Report and pay the filing fee online.
File your LLC Annual Report online:
Florida LLC Annual Report – Sunbiz (e-File)
What you’ll get back: After you file your LLC Annual Report online successfully, you won’t get back a copy of the form. You’ll just get a success message. If you want to download a copy of your filed Annual Report, you search your LLC name on Sunbiz. Click on your LLC name, then scroll to the bottom and look under the “Document Images” section.
7. Florida Business Licenses and/or Permits
After your Florida LLC is formed, you’ll need to obtain the necessary Florida business licenses and/or permits in order to legally operate.
Florida doesn’t have a statewide general business license. The kind of business licenses or permits your LLC may need will depend on its location and the nature of its business.
County business license
Professional Limited Liability Company
And if your business activities are governed by a licensing board (like for a Professional Limited Liability Company) or another state agency, you may need to get an additional business license.
You can learn more about all of these in Florida business licenses
Tip: Save time by hiring an expert. We recommend using IncFile ($99) to handle the business license research for you.
8. Florida State Taxes
Federal Taxes: By default, Florida LLCs are taxed either as Sole Proprietorships (Single-Member LLCs) or Partnerships (Multi-Member LLCs). Since these LLCs have “pass-through” taxation, your Florida LLC is not subject to double taxation like a Corporation (there is no federal-level filing). However, the profits or losses from your LLC will be reported on a Schedule on your personal tax return.
No personal income tax: Florida does not impose any personal state income tax. However, your LLC may still have to pay certain state and local corporate/business taxes depending on its line of business and how it derives income.
Register with the FL Department of Revenue: Your LLC may need to register with the FL Department of Revenue for corporate taxes, sales tax, withholding tax (and possibly other taxes too), depending on your unique business situation. Please check with an accountant for details. You can also read this guide for more information on LLC taxes in Florida: TRUIC: LLC in Florida.
Business taxes your LLC may need to pay in Florida:
- Sales and use tax
- Discretionary sales surtax (imposed by some counties)
- Reemployment tax
- Communications services tax
- Corporate income tax
- and more (see here)
9. Florida LLC Bank Account
After your Florida LLC is approved by the Florida Division of Corporations and it has a Federal Tax ID Number, the next step is to open a separate LLC bank account.
Benefits of a separate business bank account: It makes accounting and recording easier. Also, it ensures that only your LLC’s assets (and not your personal assets) will be used to pay off any debt or lawsuit.
Items needed to open an account:
- The stamped and approved copy of your Florida LLC’s Articles of Organization
- Federal Tax ID Number
- Form of ID (such as a passport or driver’s license)
Tip: Some banks require extra documents, so be sure to call them ahead of time.
Signers on the bank account: Members desiring to be authorized signers on your Florida LLC’s bank account should be present during the opening of the account. If you need to add a signer later, you’ll need to ask the bank about how they handle this.
Non-US residents/foreigners: The steps for a non-US resident to open a bank account are different. Please see this page for more information: non-US resident LLC bank account.
LLC banking fees: We recommend calling the banks ahead and asking them how much their monthly maintenance fees cost. A lot of banks in Florida charge monthly fees, but about 25% or so do not. We recommend you speak to at least 5-6 banks in order to find a free business checking account for your LLC.
DBA (Doing Business As): This is also known as a “Fictitious Business Name” and is used by some LLCs operating under a business name that is different than what is registered with the Florida Division of Corporations.
For example: Fred runs “AGR Logistics LLC” under the DBA name of “Fred’s Shipping
If the bank representative asks for your LLC’s DBA (but you’re not using one, which is the case for most LLCs), just explain this to them. A lot of bank representatives are not well versed in business entities and they usually confuse the concept of an LLC with a Sole Proprietorship (thinking that all businesses have a DBA).
Debit card: The bank will give you a debit card when you open the account.
Credit card: You can also get a business credit card to earn points, miles, and other rewards.
10. Business Phone Number
Instead of using your home telephone number or your cell phone, you can purchase an affordable “virtual business number” specifically for your LLC in Florida. You can set this virtual business phone up to forward to your cell phone, go through voice prompts, or configure it any way you’d like.
We recommend using Phone.com as they have the cheapest plans and their customer service is excellent.
They offer local phone numbers as well as 1-800 toll-free numbers. You can easily set up call forwarding, pre-recorded prompts, and get voicemail messages forwarded to your email.
Getting a separate business phone number for your Florida LLC is also a good idea in order to keep your actual number private from those pesky “public record” websites.
Florida State Agencies
Florida Department of State: Division of Corporations
Hours: 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday (Eastern)
Website: Florida Division of Corporations: Sunbiz
Florida Department of Revenue
How to Start an LLC in Florida FAQs
Yes, Florida is a great state to be a small business owner and start an LLC as your business structure. Florida has quick approval times and helpful representatives at the Department of State if you have questions.
However, the most important factors in deciding where to start a business are where you live and where you’re doing business.
Meaning, if you are a Florida resident, then you should start your business there. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business.
For example, if you form an LLC in Delaware, but live in and conduct business in Florida, you’ll also need to register your Delaware LLC in Florida (and pay extra fees). This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
In summary, if you live in and conduct business in Florida, then yes, Florida is a good state to start a business. If you don’t live in and do business in Florida, then no, Florida isn’t a good state to start a business.
For more information, please see Best state to form an LLC.
LLC costs in Florida vary depending on your unique business needs. That said, Florida LLCs have two types of cost: initial fees and ongoing fees.
The fee for starting an LLC in Florida is $125. This is a one-time fee paid to file your Articles of Organization with the Florida Division of Corporations.
If you hire a Registered Agent Service, you’ll have to pay an annual fee each year. This is usually about $125 per year.
LLCs are also required to file an Annual Report. Every Florida business must make this $138.75 payment every year.
Your LLC may need a business license in Florida depending on your industry and where your business is located. We recommend checking with your municipality about whether they require a business license or charge any annual fees.
The amount you’ll pay in business taxes will also vary. We recommend hiring an accountant who is familiar with tax requirements for a business in Florida.
How long it takes to get an LLC in Florida depends on how you file your Articles of Organization.
If you form a Florida LLC online, it will be approved in 1-2 business days. And you can download your documents as soon as your filing is approved.
If you form your LLC by mail, it will take 5-7 business days for the state to process your filing. So it’ll be about 3-4 weeks total before you receive the approval documents back in the mail.
You can learn how to start an LLC in Florida yourself by following the instructions in our Florida LLC Articles of Organization guide. We break down the process for you step-by-step.