How to pick a name for a Florida LLC? One of the first things to do is come up with a name for your new business. Not only is this decision full of marketing concerns, it also has legal requirements.
Consult Florida Statutes section 605.0112 for specific rules about LLC names. All Florida LLCs need to identify the type of company it is. For LLCs, this means including one of the following:
You don’t want your business confused with others. Use Florida’s Corporation Search to ensure the name is distinctive. Setting yourself apart from existing businesses is wise and required.
Florida LLC names must avoid using terms for government entities and illegal activities. Holding your business out as something it isn’t is a quick way to violate these regulations. Florida’s Division of Corporations website has a list of FAQs to guide you.
If you have trouble finding a name that works, you can operate under a doing-business-as (DBA) name. For example, “Clearwater Tours LLC” could operate under “Clearwater Beach Outings.”
Another consideration for your LLC name is the available domain names (URLs). Even if you don’t plan to launch a website immediately, reserving a domain name is an excellent idea.
How do you appoint a registered agent? Florida law requires that all LLCs have a registered agent to serve as the main point of contact. This address receives mail and legal service of process.
If someone sues your business, the registered agent receives the legal notices. It’s also used for tax documents. As you can imagine, this is a vital role. Everyone must handle these documents with care.
Some business owners decide to appoint themselves as registered agents. But experienced owners know that a registered agent service is worth the investment.
Choosing to serve as your registered agent comes with the following advantages:
It also has many disadvantages, including:
We encourage business owners to use a registered agent service. They will keep your address confidential and sort through your mail. While attorneys can charge up to $500 annually, registered agent services cost around $100-$150 per year.
If you choose to start your LLC by using a business formation company, they often include a registered agent service in their packages. Feel free to take a look at our registered agent recommendations article for more information.
How do you file Articles of Organization for a Clearwater, Florida LLC? Take a moment to compose yourself because this section is crucial. Filing your Articles of Organization with the Florida Division of Corporations creates your LLC.
This task can seem intimidating. But in reality, the Articles of Organization only requires basic information. You can even use a fillable form provided by the State.
There are two fees to pay when filing, totaling $125. They are a $100 fee for the Articles of Organization and a $25 fee to appoint a registered agent.
Once you file, the Division of Corporations has to process your application. This can have some delays, but Florida provides three different ways to send them in. The processing times are subject to change, but here is a rundown of the estimated timing:
To save time and avoid the hassle of LLC filings, all seasoned entrepreneurs use LLC formation services. For recommendations, check out our article on the best LLC services.
Do I need an operating agreement for my Clearwater, Florida LLC? An operating agreement is a contract between LLC members. It sets out the rules under which the LLC operates. And it includes the rights and responsibilities of the members.
If you don’t have an operating agreement, any Clearwater LLC falls back to Florida laws. Those default laws might not serve your best interests. Taking the time to create an operating agreement protects you and your business.
Florida does not require LLCs to have an operating agreement. But we encourage business owners to create one so that you can tailor the rules to fit your needs, including:
You do not need to file an operating agreement with the state of Florida. They are private contracts between LLC members.
Experienced business owners complete this step to protect their business and interest. LLC formation services provide operating agreement templates for as little as $50. It is easier than ever to ensure your LLC operates as you intend.
Do I need an EIN for my Florida LLC? The IRS uses Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to track tax information. They work like Social Security Numbers, with one EIN for each business entity.
Not all businesses need to get an EIN, but many do. The IRS requires LLCs to get an EIN if any of the following apply:
EINs are often required for other purposes. These include filing state taxes and opening bank accounts. We recommend every LLC obtains an EIN, even if the IRS doesn’t need it.
You can apply for an EIN online and complete the process in minutes. Unless it’s part of a wider business formation package, it’s not worth paying someone to get an EIN on your behalf.
Part of starting a business is getting the necessary licenses and permits. These requirements can come from the state, county, and city authorities. It’s crucial to understand what your business needs. Failing to get approval can result in grave consequences.
Most businesses don’t need a general business permit from the state of Florida. But many industries need to get licenses and permits before conducting operations. These include everything from architects to private investigators.
Review the Florida state requirements before opening your doors to customers.
Besides state requirements, the local authorities also impose license and permit needs. Like many Florida municipalities, almost every local entity needs a Business Tax Receipt.
Some business activities need extra permits, including:
First, review the City of Clearwater requirements. While you may need to get specific permits, it’s almost certain you need to apply for a Business Tax Receipt (BTR). Formerly known as an Occupational License, all businesses need one before conducting operations.
Pinellas County also issues business permits. These apply to specific activities, including construction contractors and food establishments. Reach out to Pinellas County to ensure you cover your needs before starting up.
Leveraging the knowledge of local business leaders is a shortcut to success. Do yourself a favor and connect with other entrepreneurs. They’ll help uncover ways to demolish obstacles and generate exceptional growth.
Here is a list of local organizations dedicated to helping businesses succeed:
Once you’ve reached this far, pat yourself on the back. Forming a Clearwater, Florida LLC is a giant step forward. But don’t let the momentum fade. Push forward by completing these essential tasks right away.
The internet has transformed the world and how we do business. Even if you don’t want to launch a website right away, registering a matching domain (URL) should be a priority. Many business owners also get the rights to related domain names.
If you don’t get the domain name, domain squatters could beat you to the punch. They buy the domain names with the intent to resell them at higher prices or stifle competition. This could add significant hurdles to launching a website.
Registering domain names is affordable, usually costing $20-$50 per year. The process is not complicated. Get the rights to your domain name before someone else does.
Sometimes businesses operate under a name that is different from the LLC name. Known as doing-business-as (DBA) names, these can be useful in many ways. One is to operate multiple businesses.
If you decide you’d like to operate under a name different from the LLC, file for a doing-business-as name. For example, “Clearwater Maintenance Group LLC” could operate under “Clearwater Repair Services.”
Florida calls this using a fictitious name. Consult Florida Statutes section 865.09 to find a fictitious name that works for your needs.
It is easy to apply for a fictitious name in Florida. Use the online Sunbiz portal for the quickest turnaround time. The fictitious name registration is valid for five years and costs $50.
Establishing your business entity gets the ball rolling. But like many things in life, there are ongoing requirements that you’ll need to deal with. In Florida, LLCs need to file annual reports.
State and local tax liabilities are another ongoing compliance concern. Many people know Florida doesn’t levy personal income taxes. But there are other tax concerns to handle.
For corporations, Florida imposes a franchise tax. These do not apply to Florida LLCs.
But if your LLC has employees, you will have to pay employment taxes. And if it sells goods and services, collecting sales and use tax will need to be part of your business.
The City of Clearwater requires all businesses to apply for a Business Tax Receipt. Don’t forget to take care of this critical step before conducting operations in the area.
Most importantly, having an LLC will ensure your personal assets are protected if your business cannot pay its debts. Running your business through an LLC can also provide you with better tax treatment. In addition, LLCs have fewer and less complicated reporting requirements compared to other types of businesses, making them particularly suitable for smaller businesses.
It is not strictly necessary to form an LLC in order to start a business. You can engage in business as a sole proprietorship instead. However, in that case, your personal assets may be at risk if your business takes on too much debt or loses a lawsuit in court.
It doesn’t cost much to set up an LLC for your business. In most states, you will need to pay less than $150 to register your new LLC with the local state authorities. In some states, you may need to pay some additional costs later on, for example, when filing an annual report or filing for a DBA.
The time it takes to have your LLC approved can vary wildly depending on the state, the filing method you used and if you opted for expedited filing. In some states, you can have your LLC approved in as little as one day, while in others, it may take weeks or even months.
If you want the fastest possible turnaround time, you should consider using online filing and pay for expedited service, if available.
The IRS and most state tax authorities treat LLCs as “pass-through” entities. This means that your LLC does not pay taxes directly (as corporations do). Instead, the tax burden is passed through to the members of your LLC. The members will then include profits and losses from the LLC’s business on their personal income tax returns.
It is generally best to form your LLC in your home state, where you will actually carry out your business. Some people believe that it is advantageous to form your LLC in Delaware or Nevada. In reality, you would then have to register with the authorities in your home state as a foreign LLC and pay additional fees – without much benefit in return.
You are not generally required to file for a DBA (“Doing-Business-As”). However, most business owners choose to do so anyway. Getting a DBA will allow you to omit the letters LLC from your customer-facing business name. You can also have multiple names for your LLC if you want to run more than one business through your LLC.
Yes, you can form an LLC for your business in any US state. There is no requirement for you to be a US citizen in order to form an LLC, nor do you need the right to reside in the US. If your business is going to own physical property in a given state, you may want to form your LLC in that state.
No, you don’t need to hire an attorney to form an LLC for you. It is generally much cheaper and straightforward to file the necessary paperwork yourself or to hire an affordable LLC formation service to handle the work on your behalf. However, you may want to consider hiring an attorney if your business is very complex.