Starting an LLC is a big step for any business, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. We’ll walk you through the best way to start an LLC in Florida, including naming your company, getting a Registered Agent, and filing annual reports.
Your LLC will also need to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. This nine-digit number functions like a Social Security number for your business.
Articles of Organization
The articles of organization are the primary founding document for any limited liability company in Florida. When filed with the state Division of Corporations, they establish your business as an official legal entity. The articles include basic information such as your LLC name, purpose, and managers/members. It must also identify your registered agent, a Florida-based person or company that is authorized to receive service of process and other important legal documents on behalf of your LLC.
Florida requires your articles to include your principal business address, which is the physical location where you intend to operate your LLC. The articles also need to specify an effective date, which can be any day between five days before the date the Department of State accepts your filing and 90 days after it is accepted.
The articles of organization are required to be in English, so you should draft them before you begin the online filing process at Sunbiz. You can also hire a professional registered agent service to file on your behalf and ensure that all the required details are included.
The state of Florida requires all LLCs and corporations to designate a registered agent. This person or business will be required to receive important correspondence and documents on behalf of your company and is responsible for notifying you if your company is being sued. They must be available during normal business hours and be a resident of Florida. Choosing an experienced registered agent service can help save you time, money and the embarrassment of being served with a lawsuit in front of customers.
After your business is approved, you’ll need to open a bank account. It’s a good idea to use a separate business bank account so that your personal assets are not at risk in case your company is sued.
You may also want to create a business plan. Although the state of Florida doesn’t require you to submit a business plan, it can be an excellent way to keep your ideas organized, define goals and envision your future.
A business website is a necessity for an LLC, but the requirements to create one are more complicated than with a sole proprietorship or partnership. It is important to research the specific requirements and adhere to them to ensure your website meets legal standards.
In Florida, an LLC must have a registered agent that is physically located in the state. You can elect to be your own registered agent (though it comes with added responsibility), or you can hire a service that will act on behalf of your LLC.
If you choose to use a registered agent service, they will scan and upload any mail received into your online account. They will also provide you with a calendar for annual report deadlines and other key dates that may come up. If you decide to hire them to form your LLC, they will act as your registered agent free for the first year. This is a huge time saver and eliminates another layer of responsibility from you as the owner of your business.
The final step involves completing an operating agreement, a legal document that outlines core business processes such as how profits and losses are distributed. It also states how a company will handle changes in membership, what happens if a member dies or the LLC dissolves, and what kind of financial service accounts the LLC can open.
Florida doesn’t require LLCs to have an operating agreement, but creating one makes sense for any business structure. It helps protect owners from personal liability, and it defines how the LLC will be taxed—another benefit of the state’s business-friendly tax climate.
The operating agreement should be signed by someone authorized to do so, typically the company manager or president. It should also contain the company’s principal business address and an authorized representative’s name and contact information. The effective date can be any day between five days before the Department of State receives your Articles of Organization and 90 days after.