Do You Need a Business License to Start an LLC in Florida?

An LLC is a legal business structure that protects owners’ personal assets. To start an LLC, you’ll need to file Articles of Organization with the state.

You’ll also need a registered agent, who can be a person or a service. Many LLCs use a registered agent service, such as Northwest Registered Agent, to take this responsibility off their hands.

Articles of Organization

Once you’ve decided to form your new LLC, you need to complete the articles of organization. This is a relatively straightforward online or printed form that includes the state-specific information about your business, including its name and address (PO Boxes are not accepted), whether it will be member-managed or manager-managed, and the names and addresses of its members and managers. In Florida, it also needs to include the name of its registered agent (which must be a physical street address; PO Boxes are not acceptable).

You can file the articles of organization online at the Sunbiz website or submit a hard copy by mail. You must also designate an effective date, which cannot be more than five business days before or 90 calendar days after the filing date. You can choose to act as your own registered agent or use a registered agent service such as Northwest Registered Agent, which offers free LLC registration with your purchase of their services ($129 plus state fees). Every Florida LLC must file an annual report by e-filing online or through the Division of Corporations’ paper filing system. The fee varies year-by-year, but is typically around $130.

Registered Agent

While Florida doesn’t require an LLC to have an operating agreement, it’s a smart idea to create one. It clarifies how the company will be run, how finances and decisions will be made, and provides a layer of protection to safeguard your personal assets should the LLC get into legal trouble. Without an agreement, state law will decide any disagreements, which may not align with your best interests.

Another necessary requirement for an LLC is to register a fictitious name, also known as a DBA, if your business will operate under more than one name. This is often required by state departments of revenue and varies from state to state. A reputable registered agent can handle this for you, saving you time and money on administrative tasks so you can focus on running your business.

Once the articles of organization are approved by the state, you’ll need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS. This nine-digit number acts like a unique social security number for your LLC and is required to pay federal taxes, obtain certain business licenses, and open a bank account.

Business Tax Receipt

Typically, it takes the state a week or so to process online-filed articles and a few weeks to handle mailed documents. Once accepted, your articles will show a date of approval, and you’ll have the ability to print or download them for your records.

Next up, you’ll have to submit a form that includes some basic company information. You’ll need to provide the name you want for your company, the principal business address, and a list of any names you’re doing business as. You’ll also need to indicate your desired duration for the LLC, which is unlimited by default but can be set for a specific end date if you prefer.

Choosing a registered agent is also important, as this person or service must be at your address during work hours and capable of receiving governmental paperwork or other legal correspondence. You can serve as your own registered agent or appoint someone else to do so. Using an affordable, reliable registered agent service can save you a lot of hassle down the road.

Operating Agreement

Although the state of Florida doesn’t require you to write an LLC operating agreement as part of the registration process, it’s still a good idea. It establishes important business procedures and rules, including ownership structure, management, and profit allocation. It also clarifies which assets belong to the company and which are personal, adding another layer of protection from legal issues that could arise from the business.

The name and address of your registered agent, which must be a person or service that is physically located in the state of Florida and available during normal business hours to receive service of process and other official notifications. This is not the same as your principal office address, which is listed in your articles of organization.

Your federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is needed to pay taxes and open certain types of business bank accounts. BizFilings will handle this step for you, ensuring your EIN is in place as quickly as possible.