Starting a company

How To Form A Corporation In Florida

Key takeaways

  • Choose a unique name for your corporation that complies with Florida's naming requirements and is available as a domain name for your business's website.
  • Appoint at least one director and one officer to manage your corporation, ensuring they have strong leadership skills, financial know-how, and industry-specific knowledge.
  • Hire a registered agent to receive legal and administrative documents on behalf of your corporation, ensuring they are reliable and knowledgeable about Florida's state laws and regulations.
  • File Articles of Incorporation with the Florida Department of State, including the corporation's name, purpose, authorized shares, and directors' and officers' names and addresses.
  • Obtain all necessary permits and licenses for your business type and location to operate legally in Florida.
  • Issue stock certificates to every shareholder, recording their name, contact information, the number of shares they own, and the issued date.
  • Draft corporate bylaws to outline the roles and responsibilities of the corporation's directors, officers, and shareholders, as well as the decision-making process.
  • Maintain your corporation's compliance by filing annual reports, paying state taxes, and keeping accurate records in accordance with Florida's regulations and deadlines.
  • Review and update your corporation's bylaws to reflect any changes in structure or operations and ensure smooth functioning.
  • Consult a lawyer, accountant, or agent for assistance in forming your corporation, complying with legal and administrative requirements, and drafting important documents.


Starting a company in Florida is hard work. It involves a lot of rules and paperwork, but if you do it right, it can help you protect your money and pay less in taxes.

When you start a company, you can separate your money from your business money. This helps you if something goes wrong and people try to sue you or if your business goes into debt. You can also pay less in taxes, depending on the type of company you start.

But it's essential to follow all the rules when you start a company. If you don't, you could get in trouble and have to pay money or even close your company. So, it's a good idea to talk to someone who knows the rules and can help you get started on the right foot.

Choose A Unique Name

Choosing a name for your corporation is an important first step, but it's not just about being creative. You must ensure that no one else is already using the name you want and that it follows Florida's naming requirements. It could lead to legal problems and much money spent in court if you don't.

You can use a free search tool on the Florida Department of State's website to check if your desired name is available. It's also important to check if the name needs to be trademarked by looking it up on the US Patent and Trademark Office's website.

Florida law needs your corporation's name to include specific words like "Inc." or "Co." Your name should not be misleading or suggests a false impression of your corporation's purpose. It cannot include words that suggest a connection to a government agency.

Ensure that your chosen name is available as a domain name for your business's website. This way, your corporation's name will be easily searchable online.

Once you've picked a unique name that meets all legal requirements, you can reserve it for up to 120 days. You can do this by submitting a name reservation application and paying a fee to the Florida Division of Corporations. This gives you time to finish the necessary paperwork and establish your corporation.

Appoint Directors and Officers

When creating a corporation in Florida, choosing people to manage the business' affairs is essential. Directors make important decisions for the corporation, while officers handle day-to-day operations.  In Florida, having at least one director and one officer is mandatory. But, depending on the size and complexity of your corporation, you may need more. For larger corporations, more directors and officers may be necessary. Look for people with strong leadership skills, financial know-how, and industry-specific knowledge. Also, consider diversity and inclusivity to enjoy different perspectives and experiences. 

Hire a Registered Agent

A registered agent is a designated individual or entity responsible for receiving legal and administrative documents on behalf of your corporation. This includes important documents such as tax forms, annual reports, and legal notices. Hiring a registered agent can be beneficial for several reasons:

  • It ensures that important documents are received promptly, allowing for prompt response and action.
  • It provides privacy for business owners as the registered agent's address is used for public records instead of the owner's.
  • Having a registered agent helps maintain good standing with the state, as failure to receive important documents can result in fines, penalties, and potential legal issues.

When picking a registered agent, choosing someone you can trust is important. Look for a reliable registered agent who can get important documents correctly. This is so you don't miss important deadlines or get into legal trouble. An experienced agent can give you helpful advice and understand rules and regulations. Choose a registered agent in Florida, as they'll know the state laws and regulations well. Choosing the right registered agent ensures peace of mind knowing that your corporation is in good hands. 

File Articles of Incorporation

Filing Articles of Incorporation is a crucial step in forming a corporation in Florida. This document establishes the legal existence of the corporation. Besides, it outlines essential information such as the corporation's name and purpose. It also includes the number of authorized shares and the names and addresses of directors and officers. To file this, you must first choose a unique name for your corporation and ensure that it meets Florida's requirements for corporate names. Then, you can file the articles of incorporation with the Florida Department of State and pay the required fees.

When filing Articles Of Incorporation, include the name and purpose, which should reflect the nature of your business. Include the number of authorized shares, the most number of shares, and the names and addresses of directors and officers. Provide accurate and complete information to avoid delays or rejection.

Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses

Obtaining the necessary permits and licenses is essential to operating a business legally in Florida. But, the required permits and licenses can vary depending on your business type and location. For example, a restaurant may need a food service permit and an alcohol license. In contrast, a construction company needs a building permit and a contractor's license. Thus, research your business and location requirements to ensure you get all necessary permits and licenses.

You must complete an application and provide any required documentation to get permits and licenses. This can include proof of insurance or certifications. Some permits and licenses may need renewal or reapplication, while others may have specific end dates. Keep track of these dates and ensure your permits and licenses are always current to avoid fines and potential legal issues.

Issue Stock Certificates

When you create a corporation in Florida, you need to issue stock certificates to every shareholder. These certificates prove ownership in the corporation and legally protect the corporation and the shareholder.

To avoid conflicts and obey state and federal laws, keep accurate records of who owns the stocks. This means recording the shareholder's name, contact information, the number of shares they own, and the issued date.

In Florida, you must issue stock certificates for all authorized and outstanding shares of stock. Two corporate officers must sign each certificate, including the president or vice president. The certificate should contain the following information:

  • The name of the corporation.
  • The name of the shareholder.
  • The number of shares issued.

Draft Corporate Bylaws

Corporate bylaws are a critical component of a corporation's governance structure. The rules and regulations govern how a corporation operates, and its board of directors creates them. Bylaws outline the roles and responsibilities of the corporation's directors, officers, and shareholders. They also guide how the corporation will make crucial decisions. Corporate bylaws aim to provide a framework for the operations, reduce the risk of disputes, and ensure everyone involved is on the same page. Bylaws are also used to ensure legal compliance with state law and the corporation's Articles Of Incorporation.

When drafting corporate bylaws, several standard provisions should be included. Bylaws should outline how often and where to hold meetings, and how voting will occur. It also should outline how the corporation's officers and directors' election takes place. Bylaws should also include provisions for how to make amendments to the bylaws and how to resolve conflicts. To draft your corporate bylaws, there are several options available. One option is to use a template, which you can find online or provided by your attorney. Templates can be a useful starting point. They provide a structure for your bylaws and ensure you pay attention to all necessary provisions. It's essential to customize the template to fit the needs of your specific corporation.

Source: Freepik
ALT-Text: Law Being Practiced

Maintain Your Corporation's Compliance 

Forming a corporation in Florida is only the beginning of your journey as a business owner. You must stay on top of ongoing requirements and deadlines for filing paperwork and paying taxes. This will maintain your corporation's legal status and let you enjoy the benefits of incorporation.

One of the critical requirements for your corporation's compliance is filing annual reports. The annual report includes basic information about your corporation, such as its name, and address. It also includes the names and addresses of directors and officers. Filing your annual report on time is essential to avoid late fees and maintain your corporation's good standing.

Besides annual reports, corporations in Florida are also required to pay state taxes. The specific tax requirements for your corporation will depend on factors such as your business type and location. Thus, research and understand the tax requirements to ensure compliance and avoid penalties.

Stay organized and keep accurate records to follow Florida's regulations and deadlines. Working with an accountant or attorney can keep you on top of your corporation's administrative and legal obligations. An accountant can help you keep track of tax deadlines and requirements. An attorney can guide legal matters such as contracts and intellectual property.

Review and update your corporation's bylaws to reflect any structure or operations changes. Bylaws are the governing documents for your corporation and provide guidelines for how to run your corporation. This includes how you conduct meetings and how voting takes place. Keeping up-to-date bylaws can help prevent conflicts and ensure your corporation operates smoothly.


When you form a corporation in Florida, there are many important steps to take. These include picking a unique name, appointing directors and officers, filing paperwork, getting licenses and permits, making rules, selling shares, and following laws. By doing these things, businesses can get protection and tax benefits. But it's crucial to get help from a lawyer, accountant, or agent to follow all the rules and deadlines. It can be tough to form a corporation, but with the right help, businesses can set up a strong legal base for future success. 


What Are The Benefits Of Incorporating In Florida?

There are several benefits to incorporating in Florida, including limited liability protection for shareholders, potential tax benefits, and enhanced credibility with customers and vendors.

What Is Required To File Articles Of Incorporation In Florida? 

To file articles of incorporation in Florida, you must provide:

  • The corporation's name and purpose.
  • The number of authorized shares.
  • The names and addresses of directors and officers.

You must also pay a filing fee and submit the articles to the Florida Department of State.

What Ongoing Requirements Are There For Maintaining A Corporation's Legal Status In Florida? 

In Florida, corporations need to file annual reports and pay state taxes. Keep accurate stock ownership records and follow all relevant regulations and deadlines too.

Do I Need A Lawyer To Form A Corporation In Florida?

Hiring a lawyer to form a corporation in Florida is not legally required. Seeking professional advice to ensure compliance with legal and administrative requirements might help. An attorney can also help with drafting corporate bylaws and other important documents.

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