How to Get a Business License in Florida – Laws and Regulations
If you decide to establish your own venture, a business start-up must always commence with registering your company in your resident state; if you want to obtain a business license, Florida is no exception.
The licensing procedure involves a number of steps, from choosing a name, to putting together the documentation for establishing the venture and opening a business bank account.
The First Steps towards Obtaining a Business License – Florida Requirements: Choosing a Name for Your Company
The first thing you need to do if you want to have a successful enterprise anywhere in the world is to find an attractive name. Your company’s name should be creative and informative at the same time: creative, in order to attract the attention of your future customers, and informative, in order to provide as much knowledge about your company’s profile as possible at a first glance.
This is the name that will appear on your official documents: every business license issued in Florida has an official name assigned and registered, which will be used for any business transaction and on the company’s business cards, mail headings and on the promotional materials as well.
When choosing the name of your company, you can consider two different options: you can register it under your own name or you may choose a business name other than yours.
If you decide to have a name other than your own, but you want to carry out your activity as a sole proprietor or a business partner, you must fill in a DBA application.
DBA stands for “doing business as” and it is also referred to as fictitious business name. Your DBA needs to be sent to several government agencies, approved and published officially.
There are two important aspects to note if you decide to apply for a DBA:
- You must be aware that you might not be the only entrepreneur with this name in the state of Florida;
- With a DBA there is no possibility for limited liability.
The Next Step in Obtaining a Business License – Florida Requirements Regarding Company Form
When applying for a business license, Florida residents are required to make a number of other decisions as well, this time about the form of the company.
You need to consider aspects related to the activity you want to pursue, the taxation form that would be the most favorable, as well as the customers you anticipate to be dealing with.
When applying for a business license, Florida residents have several possibilities:
- You can register your business as a partnership or sole propriety. A sole propriety enterprise is a venture owned by one person and there is no distinction between the business and the owner. This also implies that the business owner is entitled to all the profits made by the business, but he or she is also held responsible for all the losses or debts of the company, and guarantees with his or her personal assets for any emerging debts of the company.
A partnership is a form of enterprise in which two or more individuals or businesses combine their efforts and share responsibility in order to pursue a certain commercial activity and obtain profit. The relationship between the partners as well as the amount of responsibility and the share from profits is regulated through partnership contracts.
- You may decide to become a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC). Both forms involve the legal separation of personal assets and company property. The liability of the owner is limited in the sense that he or she is responsible only for the profits and losses generated by the company and does not guarantee for these debts with his or her own goods. However, corporations and LLCs differ in the tax regulations applied: LLCs are not subject to double taxation, while in the case of corporations, they must pay an income tax after the net revenue; the owner will also pay an income tax after receiving his or her revenue from the net profit.
Whatever form of enterprise you choose, all corporations, partnerships and LLCs in Florida must be registered at the Florida Division of Corporations in order to be allowed to operate. There are certain professions that also need a registration with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and the regulations regarding the requirements for issuing a business license may differ from one city or county jurisdiction to the other.
Submitting the Application for a Business License – Florida Registration Requirements
After you decided on the name and the form, in the next phase of obtaining your business license, Florida requires the registration of the company under that exact name and in the chosen form. For this, you will have to put together the Articles of Incorporation and file them to the Florida Department of State for your business entity to be legally created.
The Articles of Incorporation will contain all the details of the company, including the name, a physical address in Florida, a company mailing address, which can be a PO Box, and all the personal details of the owners.
After submitting and registering your Articles, the next step imposed by law is obtaining identification numbers. In order to be granted a business license, Florida based corporations are required to get an EIN, that is, a Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS. This is a unique identification number used not only for tax purposes, but also for any transaction your company will do in the future.
After receiving your EIN, you can finally apply to get your business license – Florida residents will receive their license from the county of Florida where they registered their company. This last document is necessary because you are allowed to conduct any business activities only if you are in the possession of such a license.
The Last Step in Obtaining a Business License – Florida Bank Account
As a last step in setting up a business after having obtained a license, Florida-based companies need to open a business bank account. For this, you will need the official publication certificate proving that your company has been legally established.
At this point, you will have to make decisions as well: you will have to compare the services offered by the different banks and the fees charged by them, as there can be significant differences. Some banks charge higher fees, but they do not make you pay much for endorsement stamps or checks, while others charge very low fees, but have more expensive stamps or checks.
When you have completed all the above mentioned steps and you have obtained your business license, Florida is ready to offer you all the possibilities for a flourishing enterprise – you can get to work and put your ideas into practice with your newly-founded company.