Whether youre looking at Orlando, Miami, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, or any of the dozens of lesser known locales, Florida is a booming place to do business. Its a major tourist draw (families to the resorts, college students to the beaches) and one of the biggest retirement and winter destinations in the country (for both Americans and Canadians).
Registering your company is primarily done online. Fast, secure, and convenient. Youll need a structure, an address, and a name.
For tax purposes, youll be required to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Your EIN is required on all Florida business license applications, so make sure to do this first. You can apply online via the Internal Revenue Services website.
Pick a Business Structure
Just like the rest of America, you can chose to designate your company as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company (LLC). As always, each has its pros and cons, so consider each carefully before making your decision.
Regardless of your ultimate choice, state law requires that you register your business with the state, the county, and get a bank account for your company. All three steps are mandatory in Florida.
Pick and Register a Name
As either a sole proprietorship or partnership, you may elect to register your business as a fictitious name, also known as a doing business as or DBA.
Picking a name other than your own is often a good idea. Something memorable (but not necessarily too clever...it should convey something about what your business does) is helpful to stand out from the crowd. In Florida, a DBA must be registered with the Department of State, Division of Corporations. The online registration fee is $50, and its good for a period of five years. Once registered, youll need to advertise your fictitious name in at least one newspaper in the local county.
A corporation or LLC does not require a DBA registration, but both need be filed with the Department of State, Division of Corporations. You can submit the necessary documents and fees for both a corporation (called the Articles of Incorporation, $70) and LLC (called the Articles of Organization, $125) online.
You may also be required to register with the local county government. This is not necessary for every type of business, but it is common enough that you need to check it out. Inquire with the local tax collection office and/or city or county government hall for whatever county youre in (or want to be based out of). Many require that you file with them and obtain a local business tax receipt (formerly called an occupational license).
Any business in Florida must register with the Florida Department of Revenue during the startup phase. There, you can find the necessary details on each type of tax in the state, and whether your particular business must collect and remit it.
You must register for the Florida Sales and Use Tax before you can legally conduct business in the state. Virtually all businesses will fall into this category.
An incorporated business must file for Corporate Income Tax, among others.
Other Useful Links
Cest fini. Youre registered, legally recognized, and ready to conduct business. Structure, address, and name. Be sure and investigate ALL your tax and local license responsibilities, and be sure you take some time off to visit Disney, and the beach. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Photo by James Willamor
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