Starting a Business in Florida

Everything you need to follow the American Dream in the Sunshine State.
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Essential Steps When Starting a Small Business

Thinking of starting a business in Florida? We’ll walk you through everything you need to do and all the paperwork you’ll need to file—yes, there’s paperwork—to get your business up and running, including federal requirements and Florida’s state requirements for small businesses. Learn more about: 

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Filing a Business Entity

One of the first steps you need to take is to file your business entity with the state of Florida. This process makes your business an official legal entity, the first step towards opening your doors (be they physical or metaphorical). You must file with the Florida Division of Corporations. The state has different filing forms based on the structure of business you’re starting: 

Don’t know the difference between different business types yet? No sweat. That’s how most new entrepreneurs are. To figure out which formation is right for you, consult our overview of different business types

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Tax Registration

 

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

All employers who have employees must be assigned an EIN (or Employer Tax ID) from the Internal Revenue Service. 
Apply Online

 

Florida Tax Registration

Your business must also register within the state. For general information, visit the Florida Department of Revenue’s website.

Register

Business Licenses & Permits

 

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General Business Licenses

The state of Florida will require new businesses to acquire the necessary permits and licenses in order to operate within the state. The Florida Department of State can direct you to the agency where you’ll be able to apply for the business licenses pertaining to your industry. 

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Local Permits

In addition to meeting licensing and permit requirements on the state level, there may be additional requirements in your city, municipality, or county. Consult with your local governing body to see if there are additional requirements for your business.  Some of the most common required permits include:

  • Business License and/or Tax Permit
  • Building Permit
  • Health Permit
  • Occupational Permit
  • Zoning Permit
  • Signage Permit
  • Alarm Permit

Labor Laws in Florida

Department of Labor (DOL)

Resources to help you understand which DOL laws apply to your business. 

Learn More

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Employer Requirements

You’re almost there! The final step in setting up your business is to determine the federal and state employer requirements. 

Federal Requirements

  • Tax withholdings: View the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide for full requirements.
  • Tax records: The IRS requires businesses to retain records of employment taxes for at least 4 years. Learn more about the types of records small businesses are required to keep. 
  • Employee Eligibility Verification (Form I-9): Federal law requires employers to verify the employment eligibility for all employees hired after November 6, 1986. You can download Form I-9 and learn more about the process in the Instructions for Completing the I-9; Handbook for Employers. Proof of an employee’s eligibility to work must be obtained within 3 days of hire. This must be completed for citizens and non-citizens. For help navigating the I-9 form for non-citizens, you can consult the Small Business Guide to Immigration Regulations.  
  • Federal Income Tax Withholding (Form W-4): The W-4 form, which outlines tax withholdings, must be completed by every employee prior to or on their start dates. As the employer, you are responsible for submitting the W-4 to the IRS for verification.
  • Federal Wage and Tax Statement (Form W-2): Employers are required to report annual tax withholdings for each employee to the IRS. This is done using the W-2 form, which must be completed annually for each employee by January 31 for the preceding year. Copy A must be sent to the Social Security Administration (SSA). For full instructions on what you need to do, you can view the SSA’s Employer W-2 Filing Instructions and Information.
  • Form W-9: If you do business with a freelancer or independent third party, you must obtain a W-9. This is used for third parties who are responsible for filing their own taxes with the IRS.  

State Requirements for Florida

Additional Resources for Small Businesses in Florida

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