How to form an LLC in Florida in 6 easy steps
You’ve decided to take the plunge and start a business in Florida but are now tasked with selecting a business entity. For a trustworthy combination of ease and legal protections, consider forming an LLC, or Limited Liability Company.
Each state has its own requirements for LLC formation, so here we’ll walk you through the Floridian process—priming you for success—and helping you launch your new venture with confidence.
1) Check if your business name is available
A great name can set your business apart from the competition in your industry, so choosing a business name is an important first step to forming a Florida LLC. Spend some time thinking through the marketing potential and “stickiness” of your Florida business name ideas, and choose the one you feel has the potential to be most relevant to your professional services and most memorable in the minds of your customers.
Once you’ve chosen your LLC’s name, ensure it fits the Florida-specific naming requirements to ensure a smooth approval process. The name requirements include: Using a designator at the end of your company name—either the words “Limited Liability Company,” or its abbreviation “LLC” or “L.L.C.,” not using words like “Treasury” or “FBI”—words that could confuse your business with a government agency, and only using words such as “University” or “Bank” if you’re open to filling out extra paperwork and having a licensed professional—such as a lawyer or doctor—hold an official role within your LLC.
The next step to securing your LLC moniker is to check the LLC name availability on the Sunbiz Florida Department of State Divisions of Corporations website using the name search function. Once cleared, it’s a good idea also to check if your LLC name is available as a domain name to give you the added option of creating a website.
Securing the web domain name to your Florida Limited Liability Company during its formation will save you time and money later on if you ever decide to build a website. It will prevent you from having to “buy back” the domain at a higher cost from someone unaffiliated with your LLC.
2) Claim your name
With your LLC name in hand, your next action item is to select a Florida-based agent for service of process—or a registered agent who will handle the legal paperwork and any lawsuits for your company. The Florida registered agent can either be a business or an individual—such as yourself—but in either scenario, must possess a physical street address in Florida and be authorized to conduct business in Florida. Since your registered agent is your contact person within the state, the registered agent can also be someone from a registered agent service provider.
After formalizing your LLC’s registered agent, you’ll need to file your Florida LLC Articles of Organization by submitting Form LLC-1 to the Florida Division of Corporations, either online or by mail, for a nonrefundable filing fee of $125. Within the Articles of Organization, you’ll be asked to include: The street address of your LLC’s principal office, the mailing address of your LLC’s principal office, the effective date of the LLC, the name(s), address, and signature(s) of your registered agent, and the names and addresses of your LLC’s managers.
Suppose you’re establishing a new branch of an existing LLC in the state of Florida. In that case, you’ll also need to fill out a Foreign LLC form, which allows a company to conduct business as a single entity across many states. The Foreign LLC form costs $125 in state fees and must be filed by mail.
Once your LLC name is officially secured, it's important to note that you don’t have to use the name listed on your Articles of Organization to conduct business. Instead, you can use a trade name—or fictitious name, also known as a DBA. To set up a DBA in Florida, you’ll need to register the trade name with the Florida Division of Corporations—which can be done online or by mail for a $50 filing fee—and will remain valid for 5 years.
3) Write your operating agreement
Florida does not require you to draft an operating agreement to formalize your LLC. However, we encourage you to do so anyway, for the simple fact that operating agreements provide a blueprint to your business formation and your business structure. The operating agreement can also outline the rights and responsibilities of your LLC’s managers and members.
By not generating an LLC operating agreement, you’re increasing the potential for miscommunication and conflict between business owners because there’s no legal document to reference the LLC’s intended operating procedures, should disagreements about duties or ownership arise.
Additionally, the presence of an operating agreement ensures that your LLC is operating per its internal structure—and if embroiled in any legal troubles—ensures the operating agreement will govern how your LLC operates, not the default LLC state laws of Florida. Creating an operating agreement for your LLC also helps further solidify that the LLC is separate from your personal assets, which can act as a backup business insurance policy for added legal protection against personal liability.
4) File your Statement of Information
To maintain active LLC status in the state of Florida, you must file an online Statement of Information—or annual report— with the Florida Department of State. The first annual report must be filed a year after your LLC’s formation, between the 1st of January and the 1st of May. It’s important to set a reminder to file your annual report. Should you forget to submit the form within the required period, a $400 late fee will be assessed, increasing your filing report fee from $139 to $539. Yikes!
Fortunately, the state of Florida will send you Annual Report Reminder Notices to your registered email address on file, so if you forget to create your own reminder, hopefully, you’ll be altered by the reminder emails from the state.
5) Pay your taxes
Even though your recently established LLC will not be paying business taxes in the short term, you must register your LLC with the IRS so that you’re not scrambling to sort and file your tax returns come tax season or for other tax purposes. Registering your LLC with the Internal Revenue Service simply means applying for a Federal Employer Identification Number—or Federal Tax Identification Number—which can be obtained for free via mail or online at the IRS website. Think of your LLC’s Federal Employer Identification Number as your business’s Social Security Number that the IRS will use to monitor your income tax reporting.
If your LLC has multiple employees or multiple members, you must apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number. If your LLC is a single-member business with no employees, you will not have to apply. However, per Florida law, if you decide to have your single-member LLC taxed as a corporation instead of a sole proprietorship, you will also be required to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number.
Federal and state requirements aside, the other reasons to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number are to open a business bank account or credit card for your LLC. To do this, you’ll need:
- Your Articles of Organization
- Your Federal Employer Identification Number
- Your driver’s license
6) Wrap up other regulation and sales tax requirements
Well, look at you! You’re just about ready to ride off into the sunset as an established LLC in the state of Florida. With all of the time, money, and energy you’ve spent making sure your LLC adheres to federal and state requirements, it’s important to consider small business insurance as the final piece to growing your LLC empire.
Having small business insurance can help put your mind at ease knowing you’re legally protected, allowing you to spend more time growing your LLC and less worrying about whether your LLC is legally exposed. Three of the most common types of small business insurance that might be right for your LLC needs are:
- Workers Compensation Insurance: Designed to provide coverage to your employees in the event of illness, injury, or death.
- General Liability Insurance: A general policy that offers liability protection against lawsuits and is one of the most popular insurance options.
- Professional Liability Insurance: Crafted for businesses that provide professional services. It helps cover against errors or forms of malpractice.
Get LLC insurance in minutes by following these steps
Now that you have a better idea of the type of insurance that best fits your LLC, you might be asking, “How do I purchase coverage?” Among the sea of insurance options available to you, that’s where Huckleberry comes in. Huckleberry prides itself on being a quick and easy solution for all of your business insurance needs. The process for getting set up with business insurance has never been more simple:
1. Go to Huckelberry.com and choose “Instant Estimate.” Here you can see quotes for LLC insurance and other types of coverage designed to meet your specific business’s needs.
2. Enter the type of professional service your LLC is involved in, which will aid Huckleberry in customizing your insurance options.
3. Answer a few simple questions about your business that will help tailor Huckleberry’s insurance option results with greater accuracy.
4. After only a few minutes, you’ll be quoted with several unique small business insurance options.
5. Pressed for time? Use the quick rate estimator, which will provide you with a ballpark figure on your insurance costs for when you’re on the go.
Congratulations! You’re now ready to focus on building your LLC in the state of Florida. Remember to purchase a reputable small business insurance policy to keep you, your business, your assets, and your employees safe and secure.
So take out the guesswork and easily find a quality business insurance policy with Huckleberry. In less time than it takes to shower, Huckleberry will provide you with a comprehensive insurance quote and policy options that protect you and your business for years to come.