If you want to start a business in Florida, forming an LLC is one way to do so. It offers flexibility with taxation and strong liability protection for owners.
Starting an LLC in Florida involves a few simple steps. You’ll need to choose a name, file Articles of Organization, hire a registered agent and create an operating agreement.
1. Choose a name
Choosing the name for your Florida LLC is one of the most important steps in the formation process. It’s critical to find a name that is available for use and distinguishable from any existing business in the state.
The Florida Division of Corporations will check your proposed name against registered names and reject any that are too similar or too close to other company’s names on file. This can be costly and time-consuming, so it’s essential to choose a name that’s unique and available for use in Florida.
You must also avoid words that imply your corporation is connected to a government agency or that it is organized for an unlawful purpose. These restrictions are laid out in the Florida state statute about LLC naming guidelines.
2. File Articles of Organization
A Florida LLC starts with filing articles of organization, a document that formally registers your company. This is one of the most important documents in starting a business.
The articles of organization are filed with the state and should contain all the necessary information about your company. Financial institutions and other professionals may ask to see them before they work with you.
The documents also list the registered agent’s name and address. This agent will accept legal and tax notices on behalf of your LLC. The agent can be an individual or a service.
3. Establish a registered office
When establishing a Florida LLC, it’s important to choose the right registered office. This address will be the official address for your company to receive statutory mail and legal documents from Companies House, HMRC, and other government agencies.
A registered office is also the place to keep your statutory records. These records include the company’s Articles of Organization and certificate of status.
Choosing the right registered office will ensure you meet all statutory requirements for maintaining up to date company records. It’s also important to choose an address that protects your privacy and creates a positive impression for potential clients.
4. Hire a registered agent
After you choose your LLC’s name and create the articles of organization, you’ll need to designate a registered agent. This person must have a physical address in Florida, and they’re responsible for receiving legal mail on behalf of your business, including service of process.
You can act as your own registered agent or hire a professional service to do the job. Regardless of your choice, a registered agent will help you stay compliant with tax payments, lawsuits and judgments against your business.
5. Create an operating agreement
The Florida LLC Operating Agreement is a document that outlines the rules and policies of a limited liability company. This will include things like decision-making power distribution, management structure, and how profits are handled.
An operating agreement is not legally required for an LLC in Florida, but it’s a good idea to have one in place. This will help to protect the operations of your business and establish credibility as a legal entity.
An operating agreement also helps clarify verbal agreements between members and provides personal asset protection. It can also strengthen the limited liability status of a single member LLC by ensuring that it is clearly defined in the eyes of court officials.
6. File annual reports
Florida is one of the most popular states for limited liability companies. As with any business, LLCs must file paperwork to stay in compliance with the state’s laws.
The Florida annual report is a document that your LLC will file annually to confirm or update its information on the state’s records. This includes management or membership information, your company’s principal office address and mailing address, and your registered agent.
In Florida, LLCs are not taxed as corporations, so members pay state taxes only on their share of the profits and losses. This type of taxation is commonly called “pass-through” taxation.