Guide to Starting a Business in Florida
The Anatomy of a Name
The name of the corporation must include one of the following words (or an abbreviated version): Corporation (Corp.), Incorporated (Inc.), or Company (Co.)
The name chosen for your corporation must be distinguishable from any other organization registered with the Department of state. To verify availability of a selected name, refer to the Division of Corporations business name database. Remember that searching availability of a name does not reserve the name for you.
The Paperwork Process
In order to be legally recognized by the state of Florida as a corporation, an Articles of Incorporation form must be filed with the Department of State Division of Corporations. This form lists:
- The Corporation’s name and address ( must be a street address, mailing address can be listed separately, and can be a PO BOX)
- The purpose of the corporation
- The number of shares the corporation will hold
- The name, title, and address of any Directors/Officers
- The name, address and signature of an appointed registered agent (Address cannot be a PO BOX)
- Name, address and signature of the Incorporator
Annual Reports must be filed by each for-profit Florida Corporation in order to maintain active status. The report is filed electronically between January 1st and May 1st the year after incorporation. Email reminders to submit the report will be sent to the email address on file.
Time to Talk Taxes
Every corporation must obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. This can be obtained online from the IRS Website.
The corporation must have 75 or less shareholders in order to qualify for S-Corporation status. These shareholders must agree to be formed as an S-Corp, and sign and file Form 2553: Election by a Small Business Corporation Refer to the IRS website for questions on filing deadlines.
Keep Moving Forward
Once your S-corp is set up, remember to get a business license in the city you are operating. Most cities pull data from newly-registered businesses in the state so they can track down who in their city should have a license. While you can wait for your city to come knocking if you are on a tight budget (and many will simply give you a deadline to get a license), some municipalities may not be so friendly about it.