In Florida, an LLC’s name must end with “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC” or “L.L.C.” For licensed professionals, an LLC name may end with “PLLC,” “chartered” or “PLLC.”
Determine what licenses and permits you need to run your business. Obtaining an annual report is vital to maintain good standing with state agencies.
Articles of Organization
The articles of organization are the initial document filed to create a Florida limited liability company. They are typically required in order to open business bank accounts, apply for credit card merchant accounts, and for many other business functions.
The documents contain basic information about the company including its name and location, its authorized representative (if different from the person submitting the articles), its purpose and whether it will be member-managed or manager-managed. The documents also specify the duration of the LLC, which can be either perpetual or a specific date in the future at which point the company will be dissolved.
It’s important that the legal name of the company be selected carefully to ensure it meets state requirements, especially if it’s going to be used in marketing. BizFilings offers a free state name search to assist in this process, as well as an optional service to reserve the desired company name. It’s also important to draft an operating agreement, which is not filed with the articles of organization and establishes how the company will be run.
Regardless of which filing route you take to establish your Florida LLC, it’s important that you have a registered agent in place. The role of the agent is to receive service of process, legal papers and official government notices on behalf of your LLC.
You can appoint yourself as the registered agent, or you can choose to use a professional service. If you choose to act as your own registered agent, keep in mind that your name and physical address will become a public record. This might present privacy concerns if you are doing business from home.
A popular option is to hire a service like LegalZoom to serve as your Florida registered agent. They have millions of customers served and offer advanced legal services. They also provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and their office is open 14 hours per day during the week and nine hours on weekends. They can even help you file your Articles of Organization online.
Creating a Florida LLC offers tax flexibility and personal asset protection for its owners. It takes the state a week or so to process articles filed online and even longer for those mailed in. Once the state approves your Articles of Organization, it will notify you of its acceptance.
Your registered agent can help you open a separate business bank account for your LLC, making it easier to keep track of your records. This is especially important if members want to be authorized signers on the account.
You may also need to obtain any required Florida business licenses or permits. This varies by industry, and you should check with your local government or the Department of Business & Professional Regulation to find out what you need. If your LLC will be selling goods, you’ll need to register for sales tax through the Department of Revenue and make periodic payments. You may also need a permit for home occupations, certain industrial activities, or health departments.
The operating agreement for your Florida LLC sets out the procedures for how you and your fellow Members will run your company. It is not required by state law, but it helps preserve your limited liability status in the event of a lawsuit and prevents disagreements among Members.
You will need to list the purpose for your business, as well as the name and address of the registered agent. This information will be included on the Articles of Organization, which will also be used to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
It typically takes a week or so for the Division of Corporations to process articles filed online, and longer if submitted by mail. Once the articles are approved, you will need to have your authorized representative sign the document as proof of your authority to act on behalf of your LLC. This is usually a lawyer or accountant. It is important to keep in mind that you cannot open a bank account for your LLC until all members have signed the operating agreement.