If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in Florida. The Sunshine State is the nation’s third-biggest by
population and boasts hundreds of miles of beach, glitzy and glamorous cities, unique natural beauty, as
well as no state income tax and relatively low property taxes.
With over 19 million residents, there are plenty of entrepreneurially minded Floridians asking the same
question: What goes into starting a business in Florida? And since the answer is
unique to where you live, it’s worth exploring what the startup process is in the southeastern-most U.S.
It’s clearly a popular query: Florida has the second-highest density of startup businesses in the U.S.,
with more than 100 startups per 1,000 total firms. Plenty of new
entrepreneurs either flock to or crop up in the state, particularly Miami.
That being said, as you might expect, there’s still a certain amount of red tape to navigate on your way to
starting and operating your business in Florida. Let’s review the steps that need to be taken, fees that
need to be paid, forms that need to be submitted, and anything else involved in getting up and running. Some
solid resources include Florida’s own Division of Library and Information Services and Florida’s Division of
How to Start a Business in Florida in 8 Steps:
Choose Your Entity Type
Register Your Company
Register Your DBA
Set up Your Business to Pay Taxes
Obtain a Business License, If Necessary
Open a Business Bank Account
Pick a Location
Fund Your Business
Starting a Business in Florida: Officially Form Your Company
Sounds simple enough, right? For the most part, it is. The formal process of starting your business in
Florida has three typical steps.
1. Choose Your Entity Type
In most cases, you’ll likely choose from the three main categories of
for-profit corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or nonprofit corporation.
A for-profit corporation is a company owned by a group of people, with limited liability, that pays
corporate income tax. An LLC is similar to a corporation, but its income is reported on members’ individual
tax returns and does not pay corporate income tax. A nonprofit corporation is a nonprofit structure that can
be tax-exempt—it’s most common for churches and charities.
Another company type is the partnership, which takes a number of forms: a general partnership, a limited
liability partnership, a Florida limited partnership or a foreign limited partnership.
2. Register Your Company
You can find all the necessary forms for registering your business online at the SunBiz website and can submit
most of them online, as well. These forms cover the basic, minimum statutory filing requirements, though
depending on your business you may need to file additional items. When you file, you supply basic business
information, list the owner names, and pay the filing fee.
The fees for filing a for-profit corporation or nonprofit corporation as of 2019 include: $35 for
filing fees, $35 for a registered agent designation, and two optional fees of $8.75 for a certified copy or
certificate of status.
The fees for filing an LLC as of 2019 include: $100 for filing fees, $25 for a registered agent
designation, and $30 for an optional certified copy or $5 for an optional certificate of status.
Partnerships are more expensive to register, and their full fee obligations should be viewed on the Florida
Department of State’s site. View the full fee schedule here.
3. Register Your DBA
This step is technically optional, but if you want to conduct business with a company that has a name other
than your official personal one, you’ll want to invest in registering a fictitious name, or DBA (doing
For example, if your name is John Doe and you want to open a bakery, you may go with the highly clever name
of Doe’s Bakery (or how about Baking Doe?) rather than John Doe. To make this happen, you need to register
You can research to see what factors are not distinguishable for a Florida business name, look up to see
which entity names are already taken, pick your own, and then pay $50 to officially register it. Names
cannot be reserved—they’re awarded on a first-come, first served basis, so if you have a good idea, submit
Starting a Business in Florida: Set Up Your Business to Pay Taxes
This is everyone’s favorite part of owning a business. Okay, not really, but it’s the law, so you might as
well get used to it. Most businesses pay federal, state, and local (and sometimes city) taxes.
- Federal business taxes are collected by the IRS. These taxes generally include: income tax,
estimated taxes, self-employment taxes, employment taxes, and excise tax. You can review all the required
taxes (for example, income tax is a requirement for all businesses except partnerships), notable
exceptions, and necessary forms on the IRS website, or visit a local IRS office to get more information.
- State business taxes are collected by Florida’s Department of Revenue. They generally include:
sales and use tax, reemployment (formerly known as unemployment) tax, corporate income tax, and other
taxes. You have to register to collect or remit taxes online, which you can do
- Local business taxes are collected by—surprise—local county tax collectors. Each county requires
you to pay taxes to operate within them. Here’s a
list of all state’s counties so you can contact yours for more information.
- City business taxes aren’t collected by every city, but some require you to pay taxes in order to
operate within their limits. The municipal directory can point you in the right direction; then, contact your
city officials for more information.
Starting a Business in Florida: Obtain a Business License, If Necessary
Before you begin starting a business in Florida, pay attention to the specific business
licenses you may need. There are two main licensing agencies for “skilled trades”: The Department of
Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS).
The DBPR provides licenses for a wide variety of professional services, including, but not limited to:
architects, barbers, geologists, home inspectors, restaurants and food vendors, and veterinarians.
Note: Just because you work in one of these industries doesn’t mean you necessarily need a license. It
depends on what you do, exactly. For example, a geologist working as a teacher or researcher without affecting
the health or welfare of the public doesn’t need a license; one that performs professional “geological work”
The DACS licenses everything from private investigators to pawn shops to beekeepers to telemarketers. The
full list is
Those aren’t the only licensing agencies, just the biggest. Businesses in “health professions” (which can
include tattoo artists as well as nurses and pharmacists) and those in other services such as financial
services or daycare need to contact other agencies.
Starting a Business in Florida: Open a Business Bank Account
Whether you’re operating an LLC for your home business or striking out to create Florida’s next great
Fortune 500 company, you should probably have a business bank account
separate from your personal accounts.
There are a few important reasons for this: One, you want to keep your personal and business expenses
separate to reduce confusion come tax or audit time. Two, if your business is incorporated, a separate
business bank account is required. Three, business bank accounts usually come with business-specific perks,
such as longer billing cycles or higher credit limits.
Start your search by reading our complete guide to the best
banks for small business in Florida.
Starting a Business in Florida: Pick a Location
Let’s be honest: This was probably one of the first things you did. Maybe you’re interested in running a
business out of your home office, or maybe you’ve envisioned opening something on the main street in your
hometown for years. But when taking into account things like county or city taxes, or where to cultivate the
best customer base, you may need to look elsewhere.
From Tallahassee to Miami, take your time and consider the pros and cons of each business location wisely.
There’s a reason “location, location, location” has become a real estate mantra for the ages.
Starting a Business in Florida: Fund Your Business
If you’re opening a business in the modern era, there are certain bases you need to cover regardless of
whether you’re starting a business in Florida, Alaska, or most places in between. If you need a little extra
capital to get started, there are many options out there. Between crowdfunding, SBA loans,
credit cards, and short-term loans, there are a few ways a new business owner can find
the money they need to start up.
Florida’s Small Business Development
Center is a great place to start. They offer free financial advising for new entrepreneurs and can help
you decide which funding options are right for you. Keep in mind that not all small business loans will
be available to a new business owner, but the Small Business Development Centee can help guide you in the
If a business loan is too much of a commitment for you, consider a business credit
card with a 0% APR introductory rate. A 0% rate can act as an interest-free loan while you’re
getting up and running, as long as you pay back what you owe before your introductory period ends.
You can also check out our full guide to finding financing for your business in Florida.
The Bottom Line on Starting a Business in Florida
There’s a reason it’s worth considering starting your business in Florida: It’s pretty simple. Filing fees
are relatively low, most of the registration process can be done online, and lots of local resources are
available to help you get started.
If you’re a Florida resident thinking of starting a business, or a long-time entrepreneur with your sights
set on a sunnier and tax-friendly location, feel free to bookmark this guide (as well as information
provided by the state of Florida, such as the Department
of Revenue’s Start-up Kit For New Business Owners) and come back whenever you have questions.