The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a smart entity choice for many start-up businesses. The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes. With a little research, you can learn how to form an LLC in Florida without an attorney.
Unlike a sole proprietorship or partnership where the small business owner can be held personally liable for lawsuits against the business, the LLC is a separate legal structure, protecting for the business owner’s personal assets.
Besides the liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides several other benefits over the sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation because of the multiple tax options, ease of administration and management flexibility.
Forming an LLC in Florida can be both affordable and is simple enough for most people to start on their own. That said, it’s not a bad idea to have a legal professional like While the filing is pretty straightforward, it’s nice to have some support if you have questions, alerts when the annual report is due, forms like operating agreements, banking resolutions and more. There are companies like IncFile, Swyft Filings and others that do all of this for only $49.
To form a Limited Liability Company in Florida, file the Articles of Organization with the Florida Department of State, Divisions of Corporations. The LLC filing fee is $125.
Approval of the LLC is typically between 5 – 10 days.
If you have questions, contact the Florida Department of State, Divisions of Corporations.
HOW TO FILE THE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION AND FORM A FLORIDA LLC
The steps for filing online or by mail are largely the same. The screenshots show filing online.
Step 1: Filing Information
Effective Date – You may list an effective date if you would like the Limited Liability Company’s existence to become effective on a date other than the date it is filed by the Florida Department of State. The effective date can be up to 5 business days prior to the date of submission or up to 90 days after the date of receipt.
The entities first annual report form will be due January 1st of the calendar year following the year of formation. If a Limited Liability Company is created late in the calendar year and it doesn´t expect to begin business until after the beginning of the following year, delaying the start will save money.
If the effective date is in the next calendar year, it will delay the requirement to file an annual report until the following calendar year. Example: An LLC is formed December 1, 2018. If it added an effective date of January 1, 2019, the first annual report would not be due until January 1, 2020. If the LLC files December 1, 2018, the first annual report would be due January 1, 2019.
Limited Liability Company Name –
The legal name of the LLC must include one of the following at the end of the business name:
- Limited Liability Company
A comma may be used after the business name and before the designator. “Cowboy Cleaners LLC” and “Cowboy Cleaners, LLC” are both acceptable.
Enter the name you want for the LLC. The name of the LLC also has to differ from other entity names in the state of Florida on available LLC names.
Step 2: Principal Place of Business
In this section, enter the street address, city, state, zip code and country of the initial principal place of business. This address can be the physical address of the LLC or it can be the address where the business records are kept. You may not use a PO Box for the principal place of business.
If you prefer to use a different address than the principal place of business for correspondence from the Department of State, enter that address in the mailing address field. A PO Box is acceptable.
Step 3: Name and Address of Registered Agent
To have an LLC in Florida, a Registered Agent must be identified. The Registered Agent is either a Florida resident or a corporate agent registered with the state of Florida. The Registered Agent must have a physical address in the state to act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc on behalf of the LLC.
Even though any individual can be the registered agent (business owner, member, friend, etc), their name and address become public record and with that comes a loss of privacy. This is more important for some entrepreneurs, especially when they are doing business from home. Hiring a company to be the Registered Agent will reduce the number of unwanted phone calls and mailings.
Step 4: Any Other Provision(s) – Optional (Purpose, Statements, etc.)
This is an optional section and not used by most LLCs. Here you would include a statement of purpose (what the business activities will be) or additional rules for the operation of the LLC.
Step 5 – Correspondence Name and E-mail Address
The email in this field will be used for the Florida Department of State to send all correspondence, certified copies, and certificates of status pertaining to the LLC filing will be sent.
Step 6 – Name and Address of Person(s) Authorized to Manage LLC
This section asks for the name and address of each manager or representative who is authorized to manage and control the company. There are three choices listed, but you are free to use any appropriate title. The listed title definitions include:
– (MGR) – The Manager is a person hired to perform the management functions of a manager-managed LLC. This person may or may not be a member.
– (AMBR) – The Authorized Member is an owner of the LLC
– (AP) – An Authorized Person is someone authorized to execute and file records on behalf of the LLC. Typically an attorney or accountant.
Step 7: Review
Review that all of the information has been entered correctly.
Step 8: Pay and File
Pay and file the Florida LLC Articles of Organization.
If mailing, send the form and a check or money order made payable to the Florida Department of State to:
Division of Corporations
P.O. Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
That concludes the basics of forming an LLC in Florida. Remember even though you can do it yourself, there is more to an LLC than just the filing. If you have questions, work with an attorney or a specialized entity formation company such as IncFile or Swyft Filings to make sure everything is done correctly.
While not required, an Operating Agreement is recommended in many cases. An Operating Agreement is a legal document outlining the roles and responsibilities for the members of the LLC. Read more about when an LLC needs an Operating Agreement.
After the LLC is officially filed, be sure to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN is basically a social security number for a business and will be needed before opening a business bank account. There is no cost to apply and it takes about 5 minutes to get. See how to apply for an EIN.
Last, before starting a business in Florida, you may still need to apply for business licenses, sales tax permits, self-employment taxes and more in Florida. See the Guide to Starting a Business in Florida for more information.