How to Start a Professional LLC in Florida

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Last updated February 17, 2023
Written by Dmytro Kondratiev
Editor, lawyer
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If you’ve been thinking about starting a business venture in the Sunshine State of Florida but haven’t done so just because you don’t know where to start, you’re in luck.

In this article, we’re going to tell you all about how to start a professional limited liability company in Florida, as well as what state-specific rules you need to consider to get your business off the ground.

We will also answer some of the most popular questions related to PLLC formations, such as what a PLLC is, how much is a PLLC in FL, and the like, so you get all the necessary information beforehand. Read on for more.

How to Form a PLLC in Florida: 5 Easy-to-Follow Steps

In general, setting up a PLLC in FL is a very straightforward process that most people should be able to cope with on their own, without the help of an attorney. However, it’s critical that you get your business license first. Otherwise, you won’t be authorized to run a business.

Once you have received a business license, it’s time to file a PLLC in FL. Further down, we describe each step in detail.

Step 1. Give a Name for Your Florida PLLC

Your company name is what people will associate your business with, so it should be chosen wisely. Of course, you should choose something that you like and that is easy to remember, but there are a few other naming rules to consider as well:

  • Legalities. The name of a newly-formed PLLC must contain words, such as PLLC or P.L.L.C, to make it easy to recognize what business entity it belongs to;
  • Restrictions. Words, such as “state”, “government”, “federal”, and the like, which can mislead people into thinking you deliver state services, cannot be used;
  • Explanations. You can add explanatory words to describe what your business is about;
  • Easy to remember. A good company name is one that can be easily remembered, so make sure yours is exactly like that;
  • Availability. Don’t get attached to any name until you check its availability - it might already be taken by someone else;
  • Website name. Finally, it’s highly recommended to get a website name. Even if you don’t plan to use it just yet, you’ll likely need it in the future as your business grows.

As mentioned, before you start using any name, it’s important to make a preliminary search to see if it’s still available on the Divisions of Corporations website.

If you are not ready to file a PLLC yet, but you’ve already found a name you like and you don’t want anyone to snatch it, Florida’s authorities allow you to reserve that name for up to 120 days by filing the form and paying a fee of $25.

Step 2. Find a Registered Agent for Your PLLC in FL

Aside from the name, each PLLC in Florida must have a designated registered agent. What is a registered agent? In brief, it’s a person or company that acts as a point of contact between your company and the state.

To elaborate, it’s a business official, appointed to accept and process legal documents and official notes on your behalf, and send you prompt reminders if there’s anything that needs your attention.

Also known as a statutory agent and resident agent, a registered agent can be any individual who’s at least 18 years old, given that he or she has a registered street address within the state and can be available at that address during regular business hours.

This way, you have quite a number of options for who you can designate as an RA:

  • Your relative, friend, or colleague (if they don’t mind doing the job);
  • A business consultant;
  • A law firm or attorney;
  • Professional registered agent company;
  • You can be your own RA.

If you want to lower the PLLC cost, you can act as your own registered agent, which is not prohibited by state law. However, this comes at a certain price. To give you the gist, let’s take a look at the advantages of hiring a third-party RA:

  • Privacy. Instead of disclosing your personal information in public records, you will provide your RA information, which will ensure your privacy;
  • Flexibility. You will have the advantage of organizing your time and workplace as you see fit without the need to be at the office during business hours;
  • National coverage. With most RAs operating throughout the country, it will be easy to expand your PLLC to other states in no time;
  • Calendar compliance. You’ll not need to worry about failing to compile with your calendar, as an RA will make sure your PLLC is kept in good standing;
  • Additional perks. Some RAs are also ready to provide additional services, like online document storage and help with filing forms, so you have less of a headache.

Obviously, if you choose to be your own RA, you’ll not have these benefits. Plus, you won’t be able to establish your presence in other states without actually being there - a problem that can only be solved by hiring a third-party RA.

Step 3. File the Articles of Organization for Your PLLC

When you have chosen the business name and hired an RA, you can finally get down to creating a PLLC in Florida, which is done by submitting the Articles of Organization to the Secretary of State for a filing fee of $100.

This document serves as legal proof of your PLLC formation and contains the following details:

  • Your PLLC name;
  • Street and mailing address of your company;
  • Your registered agent’s name and street address;
  • Information about members of a PLLC and how the company will be managed;
  • The date of your PLLC’s creation;
  • Organizers’ signatures.

Similar to many other states, the Articles of Organization can be filed both online and by mail, so you can do it the most convenient way.

Note, however, that processing time for online applications is only one week, while documents submitted by mail may take up to two weeks to be processed.

Step 4. Draft an Operating Agreement

Florida doesn’t require you to have an operating agreement, but if you want to ensure business success, it’s best to draft one anyway.

In layman's terms, an operating agreement is a business plan strategy drawn up to explain the rules of the company and how the profits from the business will be distributed among its members.

In addition, it establishes obligations for each member of a PLLC, thus, serving as a groundwork for your business venture. This way, in case of any disputes, you can refer to this agreement.

Besides, you’ll be asked to show a copy of your operating agreement if you:

  • Decide to scale up;
  • Look to raise more funds by attracting investors.

So, it’s important to do it right. If you aren’t sure how to draft an agreement, you can ask a lawyer to help you with this.

Step 5. Get an EIN for Your PLLC in Florida

Despite the fact that PLLCs without employees do not need an EIN number, it may still be a good idea to get one, because you’ll need it when opening a business bank account.

Basically, an EIN is a federally issued number appointed to business entities for tax purposes. It is issued by the Internal Revenue of Service (IRS) online and is free to get by filling out an SS-4 form.

What Is a PLLC in FL?

A Florida professional limited liability company (known simply as a PLLC) is a business entity composed of a group of licensed professionals, providing services in industries, such as medicine, law, architecture, accounting, and many others.

So, essentially, it’s pretty much the same LLC, except for the fact that members of a PLLC must hold a business license to be authorized to legally run the business. This means all other steps after obtaining a license will be similar to those of forming an LLC.

In case you’re not sure if your profession qualifies as a professional service in Florida and you can form a PLLC, the best way is to check with the state licensing board or contact your local attorney or lawyer directly.

Cost to Open a PLLC in FL

To the question of “how much is a PLLC in Florida”, filing fees in Florida are quite affordable. Plus, some payments are optional, which means if you decide to skip some of them, you’ll be able to reduce the cost even more.

In general, there are two types of filing fees to consider:

  • Compulsory. These are the payments required to open a PLLC in FL, e.g. to obtain a business license and file the Articles of Organization;
  • Optional. Most other fees that you may need to pay as you proceed with your business are considered optional and may vary depending on the services you use.

Below you will find a detailed guide to the cost of PLLC formation in Florida, which includes both compulsory and optional fees:

Business licenseMay vary depending on the industry
Articles of Organization fee$100
Registered agent fee$0-$125
Name reservation fee (optional)$25
Annual reports fee$138.75
Certified copies of documents$8.75
DBA (optional)$50
Certificate of Good Standing fee (optional)$15
Articles of Amendments (optional)$25
Articles of Dissolution fee (optional)$25

If you don’t want to run your business under a legal name, which can be relevant for franchise business owners, or if your legal name is too long, you can register a trade name  (known as DBA “Doing Business As”).

The filing fee is $50, and it needs to be renewed every 5 years.

Another document you may want to obtain when running your business is a Certificate of Good Standing.

This document serves as proof that your business has been registered in the state and managed properly and may be required by banks when applying for a business loan or buying insurance for your business.

First Tasks After Setting up a PLLC in FL

Once all is done, you can finally give a sigh of relief, but it doesn’t mean it’s time to relax. Starting a PLLC in FL, although quite simple, requires good planning, so you need to make sure you don’t miss any important steps.

Open a Business Account

One of the benefits of forming a PLLC is that it offers personal asset protection. The catch is, you can only get this benefit if the distinction between your personal assets and business gains is evident.

For this reason, each newly-formed PLLC should open a business account. By maintaining your business finances separately, you’ll keep your personal assets protected, and it will be easier to track filing taxes.

A business account can be opened with any bank of your choice. All you need is to provide your EIN number and a copy of the Articles of Organization verified with the Secretary of State.

Get Business Insurance

PLLCs operating in Florida with at least 4 employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance is needed to protect your company from claims made against your business due to bodily injuries that occurred at work.

Depending on the type of professional service you or your members provide, it may also be appropriate to obtain malpractice insurance. That way, if you ever get disgruntled customers who are unfortunately hard to avoid, there will be less risk of them suing you.

You can also apply for general liability insurance. Though not compulsory, it can give you additional peace of mind that your PLLC is protected from “general claims”.

Find an Accountant

Next, it’s highly recommended to hire an accountant. Even if you have a financial background, you may still be better off with a professional working on your behalf, as the responsibilities of an accountant are much more varied than just preparing reports.

The role of an accountant in a company is hard to underestimate. It’s the person who acts as a business consultant, sharing performance reviews with you and giving you advice on how best to allocate the money to get more profits.

Understanding Reports

In Florida, there are two types of reports to file:

  • Income tax;
  • Annual reports.

It’s worth noting that PLLCs in Florida do not have a state income tax unless you elect to be taxed as a corporation. In the latter case, you’ll have to file forms with the Department of Revenue and pay a corporate income tax.

Regardless, any business entity in FL is required to report on their income, whether they’ve made any money or not.

When it comes to annual reporting, PLLCs in Florida have to report to the Secretary of State on the current status of their business, even if no changes have been made, so the government knows your company’s been properly maintained and is functioning.
Note that it’s important not to miss the deadline, which in Florida is May 1. Otherwise, in addition to the regular annual report filing fee, you’ll be charged an additional $400 late filing fee.