Starting a business in Florida requires many of the same steps you would follow in any other state. Before you can conduct business in the Sunshine State, however, there are a few state-specific actions you will need to complete.
When you start a business, you need to decide whether to structure your organization as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company. In Florida, you document this decision by registering your business and its structure with the state’s Division of Corporation. Florida makes online registration simple with an easy-to-use online portal, Sunbiz.org, but you must declare your business name, owners or officers, corporate structure and several other pieces of information before you can start conducting business.
Depending on the type of business you start, you may also be required to hold additional professional certifications, permits or licenses. You can determine whether additional permits are necessary at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation website.
In addition to registering your business with the State of Florida, obtain a business license in the county where you plan to operate. In most Florida counties, you can obtain a business license from your local tax collector’s office. Some larger counties, like Miami-Dade, operate centers specifically for issuing and handling business licenses. If your business will have a location in more than one county, you must obtain a business license for each of those counties. You will need to obtain a business license and remit sales tax even if your business is operated completely online.
Although Florida has no corporate or personal income tax, you still will need to collect, report and remit sales and use taxes. Depending on what type of business you start, you also may be responsible for collecting and remitting other taxes. For example, hotel operators must collect state and local room taxes, and car rental businesses must assess certain highway taxes. When you obtain your business license, the tax collector will explain how to collect and remit the taxes necessary for your business.
The state of Florida does not allow business owners to use their personal bank accounts for business purposes. According to the Florida Division of Corporations, you must obtain a business bank account when you start your business, even if it's a part-time or home-based business.
To open a business bank account, you will need a federal Employer Identification Number. You can obtain an EIN for free at the IRS website. A number of banks in Florida offer low-cost and free business checking accounts to meet this requirement.