When you incorporate in Florida, as in other states, you register your business name with the state government. You have a free hand as long as you don't duplicate another company's name, and as long as the name meets state requirements. Once you select a Florida business's legal name, you can't change it at will. You would then have to register the new name with the state as well.
Before you file to change the corporate name, confirm that the new name is available. You can do this by searching the Florida Division of Corporations' online lists of names. The name you want has to be distinctive from the other corporate names already listed. If the name is too close to one that's in use, the state may reject it. The Small Business Administration recommends you also research whether the name infringes on an established trademark or domain name.
Amending Your Name
To change a corporation's name, amend your articles of incorporation. You can download the right form from the Division of Corporations. The filing fee is $35. All you need do is enter the new name you wish to use. You can use the same form to make other amendments, such as a new official address or using a new registered agent for legal affairs. The form should note whether the change was adopted by shareholder vote or via a board decision.
You have to notify the IRS when you change your company name. You can simply report it on your company tax return, or write to the IRS if you've already filed your return. Notify your local government as well, and find out what changes it requires to your business license and any permits you have. If you have a federal license -- to sell firearms, for instance -- the agency may require an update when the business name changes.
Doing Business As
Along with its legal name, a corporation can also have a fictitious name. Any business can take a fictitious name, which Florida defines as anything other than the owner's personal name. Any business with a fictitious name has to register it with the Division of Corporations. If you choose to change the name later, you can use a single registration form to cancel the original name and register the new choice.
- Florida Division of Corporations: Amend the Articles of Incorporation
- Internal Revenue Service: Business Name Change
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Application for an Amended, Federal, Firearms License
- Florida Trend: Fictitious Names
- Florida Division of Corporations: Application for Registration of Fictitious Name
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.