How to Start a Business in Florida
Division of Corporations: Doing Business in FloridaSM
Doing Business in Florida? Thinking about starting a business or need information on how to start a business? Here are the steps to forming a new business in Florida!
- You will need to think up a name for your new company. A good name should be unique, yet tells what kind of business you are doing.
- Make a choice on what type of company you want to form. Do you want to:
- Whatever you choose, you need to register your company with the state, county and obtain a bank account for the company. You are required to do these steps even if you have an online business or an at home business. For example, if you are doing booth sales regularly at a flea market or selling beauty products in an at home party setting you will need to take these steps.
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Choosing a DBA Start A Business
- Register with the State: With a DBA/fictitious name you will be able to register the name with the state to conduct business with this name for the entire state. A lot of very small businesses choose this path, or those who are not sure if the company is going to fly and want to start small and work up to incorporating later.
- What to Consider: If you choose the DBA as your filing, then name you choose can be used by another company. So the name is not to you alone in Florida. The other thing to consider is that if you file a DBA, there is no limited liability. What this may mean to you is that if someone sued the company, your personal assets would be available in a lawsuit. If this is not a concern then a DBA would be fine.
- Legal Notice and Business License: Once you have the DBA filed with the state, then you will need to do a Legal Notice in a local newspaper, then obtain a business license with your county. A business license/occupational license or business tax receipt is required by most counties in Florida to have the legal ability to do have a business in that county. Check with your local tax collectors office to see what they require.
Choosing to Incorporate A Business
- Select a Name: If you choose to create a Corporation or LLC in Florida the name you choose must be unique. No other company can have the exact same name, so be creative and unique in the naming of your new business.
- How to Incorporate a Business? The first step to incorporating your business is choosing if you want to have an LLC or a corporation. Your accountant, tax preparer or bookkeeper may the best person to go to help you make this choice. An attorney is also an excellent choice for guidance. The formation of a company is an important decision so having this kind of assistance is very helpful in doing it right the first time.
- Articles of Incorporation: Once you have chosen the type, you would then file the Articles with the Florida Department of State to legally create the entity. You will need a company name, principal address (which must be a physical Florida address) and a mailing address for the company which can be a PO Box if you would like. You will also need the names and addresses of all the owners in the company as the state requires this information. An email address is also necessary to file with the state.
- EIN Filing: Your next step would be obtaining an EIN or Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS. This is a unique tax ID for your new legal entity and needs to be used with any transactions for the company. Some people choose not to obtain an EIN for the LLC if it is a single member. This means they will have to use their Social Security number instead for all business transactions. All corporations have to obtain and use an EIN.
- Business License: The next step is the business license or occupational license with the county. A business license/occupational license or business tax receipt is required by most counties in Florida to have the legal ability to do have a business in that county. Check with your local tax collectors office to see what they require.
- Bank Account: The last step would be a bank account for the new company. You are required to have a bank for the LLC or corporation. All monies coming in and going out must go through the company bank account.
Florida Incorporation Service offers the following services:
- Online registration of a DBA including information on the exact wording for the Legal Notice and the link to the counties for the business license. Start here.
- Online registration of a new Florida LLC or corporation, including registration of the EIN on as well as the link to the counties for the business license. Start here.
Once you have all these steps in place, either for a DBA/Fictitious name or if you want in incorporate as an LLC or a corporation then you are ready to begin your business and are legal in the state of Florida.
- Business Records Search (Sunbiz.org) — All types of business records
- Corporation Search — Fla. Dept. of State; corporations registered in Fla.
- Company Search — Non-Corporation, “DBA”, Sole Proprietorship, Fictitious Name
- Company Lookup (by FEI Number) — Federal Employer Identification Number Search
- Employment — Occupational Data Search — Labor/market analysis
- Trademark Names — Trademark Owners — Search by Name
- Uniform Commercial Code Search — Debtors, (UCC) Lien Filings
- Vendor Search — Search companies that do business with the state
Business Registration, Licensing & Permitting:
- Division of Corporations — Registration of corporations & other businesses
- Corporation Forms (All Types) | Annual Reports | Corporation Annual Reports Online Filing (UBR) | Forms Download (All Types of Forms) | Electronic Filing | Filing Questions | Contacts | Fees | Telephone Numbers & Division Addresses
- DBA — Online Filing of Your Fictitious Name | Application Form | Fictitious Name Registration Instructions and Information
- Florida Incorporation — FAQs — Frequently asked questions and answers on forming a corporation in Florida. — Florida Incorporation Service
- Florida Limited Liability Company (LLC) Information — File to establish your Florida LLC online | LLC FAQs
- Florida Tax Guide — All Types of Florida Taxes: Business, Personal, Non-Profit
- Florida Department of Revenue — Business Tax Information
- » Start-up Kit for New Business Owners
Do I need to collect sales tax? Find out what is taxable
e-Tax Services Online | Tax Contacts & Telephone Numbers
- New Hire Reporting | Reporting Form (pdf) — Florida Dept. of Revenue
- W-4 Form (IRS) (pdf) | I-9 Form (USCIS) (pdf) | E-Verify (Employment Eligibility Verification) — Automated system to verify the employment authorization of all newly hired employees.
- IRS — Tax Information for Businesses | EIN Tax ID Number | IRS Business Start-up Issues | Business Structure, Sub S Corporation Designation
- Obtaining a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- SCOR Securities Registration — Corporations, sale or offering of securities
Non-Profit Organizations (Nonprofit Information):
- Florida Division of Corporations
Non-Profit Corporations Registration (Forms by Mail) | Download Forms | Corporations Help & Questions | State Registration of Charitable Organizations | Search Corporation Names, Locate Addresses & Corporate Officers
- Not-for-Profit Organizations (Tax Information)
- IRS (Federal) Non-Profit Organziation Tax Information
- Local government business license requirements:
Occupational Licenses — Contact your city as well as county government for occupational licensing to engage in your specified profession or occupation; Occupational License Tax Information.
- State Licensing — Many business categories & professions have additional state licensing or regulatory requirements:
(Click Here for Examples).
- Florida Business Guide — Starting a new business? Cut the red tape and wasted time. Get the details right the first time so you can concentrate on sales. Order your copy of the Florida Business Guide from State of Florida.com today!
- Florida Permits Guide
Health Related Businesses
OSPREY One-Stop Permit Registry
Water Related Permitting
Other Regulated Activities
Employment & Labor, Workforce & Economic Statistics:
- Employment & Jobs Guide
Information for employers, contacts, links to forms & publications
Labor Market Information
Population data by county
Florida Department of Labor & Employment Security
- Florida Research & Economic Database
Education Programs, Training Providers
Employers, Employer Search
Population Data, Income, Census
Income & Wages
Industry Employment Statistics & Projections
Occupations, Employment by Industry
Area Profiles, County Level Info
Building Permits, Tax Revenues, Property Values, Inflation/Price Index
- Population Rankings — Cities/Metro Areas | County Census
- Business Statistics
Number of businesses formed in Florida:
DBA Companies & Fictitious Names
- Tourism Statistics, Florida Economy Information | Travel Information — Tourism Facts, Links to Visit Florida Travel Assistance
- More Travel Statistics: Florida Public Records Guide. We also encourage you to view actual recent Transportation & Tourism News articles which often provide information from a non-marketing point of view, particularly if you are interested in a business perspective.
- Economy Data — Bureau of Labor Statistics
Florida employment, unemployment, civilian labor force data
- Economic Overview
- Economic & Business Research, Bureau of
Population Studies, Economic Forecasting, Migration & Building Statistics
Assistance & Opportunities:
Purchasing, Sales, Contracts
- State Purchasing | More — Doing Business with the State| Purchasing Office Contacts | State Buildings & Facilities
- Search Bid Opportunities — Florida Vendor Bid System
- Administrative Weekly — See Section XI for Weekly Notices Regarding Bids, Proposals and Purchasing — Florida Administrative Weekly
- Business Opportunities (State Regulation of) — Regulation of the sale or marketing of business opportunities; also regulation of franchises & franchising opportunities
- Business opportunities with State of Florida.com
- Doing Business with FDOT — Florida Department of Transportation Purchasing
- MBE — Minority Business — Office of Supplier Diversity — One Florida Initiative
- Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance — Database of all federal programs and funding sources
- Federal Government Business Opportunities
- Commerce Business Daily (CBD) — Notices of proposed federal government procurement, contract awards, sales of government property, and other opportunities
- Health/Medical Research Funding — National Institutes of Health
- SBIR — Small Business Innovation Research — Various federal agencies; competitive research grants
Resources & Assistance
- Economic Development Offices — Business site selection, incentives, contacts for one-on-one economic development assistance
- Chambers of Commerce — Community and visitor information (Local Offices)
- Environmental Assistance Small Business Program
- Export Advisor — Research, Restrictions, Laws, Directory
- Export Financing Assistance
- Financing Assistance & Loans — FFCFC | SBA Financing
- International Trade — World Trade Center, Miami, FL
| Federal International Assistance
- Minority Business Assistance — Office of Supplier Diversity — One Florida Initiative
- Real Estate — Commercial relocation and site selection
- Small Business Development Centers — Locate your nearest center for business assistance
- SCORE Offices — Business counseling services utilizing the expertise of retired executives
- University Research, Technology, Patents — Florida Universities
- Business Plan Outline — U.S. Dept. of Commerce/NTIA
- U.S. Small Business Administration
- Business Records – Recordkeeping & Retention Guidelines for Businesses — Florida Department of State
Intellectual Property & Legal:
- Business Law — Legal statutes for information and resources for Florida businesses
- Americans with Disabilities Act
- Corporate Filings, Trademark or related questions (Florida Department of State)
- Florida Statutes and Laws (Legal Resources)
- Legal Opinions — Corporations and Businesses (Florida Department of State)
- LLC Resource Center — Arnold, Matheny & Eagan P.A.
- OSHA — workplace safety issues
- Posters Required by Law — workplace posters
- Trademark Database Search (Florida)
- Copyright Basics
- U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
- The Florida Bar
Doing Business in FloridaSM — Information for Florida businesses and those considering Florida as a business location. Florida Business GuideSM — The most complete guide for starting & operating a business in Florida. “Florida Business Guide” and “Doing Business in Florida” are trademarks of State of Florida.com. Florida Incorporation Service is a service mark of State of Florida.com.
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