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Florida Corporation Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Corporation in Florida

To start a Florida corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Division of Corporations and pay a $70 filing fee. While this filing creates your business, it’s really just the first step to launching your Florida corporation. The complete steps to incorporating in Florida are as follows:

  1. File Florida Articles of Incorporation
  2. Pay the Florida Division of Corporations $70
  3. Wait to receive confirmation of your approval
  4. Get a federal tax ID (EIN) for the corporation
  5. Create Florida corporate bylaws
  6. Take these documents to the bank and get a Florida corporate bank account
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Florida Articles of Incorporation free download. When you're done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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Documents & Forms

How to File Florida Articles of Incorporation

To form a Florida corporation, you file the Articles of Incorporation in the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new corporation
Step 2 Decide what address you’d like to list publicly
Step 3 Decide how many shares of stock to authorize
Step 4 Decide if you will publicly list the directors and officers
Step 5 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 6 List your corporation’s purpose (if it’s a professional corporation)
Step 7 Choose an incorporator to sign and submit your Articles
Step 8 Decide when you’d like your corporation to start
Step 9 File online and pay $70 with a credit card (fastest) or mail 2 copies to the Department of State, Division of Corporations, PO Box 6327, Tallahassee FL 32314 with a check or money order for $70

How Long Does it Take to Start a Florida Corporation

2

Fastest 2 days

File your Articles yourself online. In 2 days, you’ll receive confirmation of your approval in your email.

2

Almost Fastest (and some might say better) 2 days

Opt for both fast and easy when you hire Northwest to form your Florida corporation. Just answer a few brief questions about your business, sit back, and let our Corporate Guides file everything correctly the first time.

3-5

Not Too Shabby 3-5 days

Print and mail your Articles of Incorporation and receive confirmation of your approval by mail in a few days.

What is the Cost of a Florida Corporation?

The Division of Corporations charges $70 in filing fees to submit your Articles of Incorporation.

Hire Northwest and your total, out-the-door cost is $295. That includes state filing fees, a full year of registered agent service and all the documents you need to open a corporate bank account.

How Much Does a Corporation in Florida Cost Each Year?

$150. This is the filing fee for the mandatory Florida Annual Report.

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What is a Florida Annual Report?

Your Florida Annual Report is a form you submit to the Division of Corporations each year to update or confirm your Florida corporation’s contact and ownership information. The report and $150 fee are due May 1st each year. Forget to file? You’ll be hit with a FOUR HUNDRED DOLLAR late fee. Yikes.

No worries though—when you hire Northwest as your registered agent, we’ll send you report reminders to help ensure you stay in compliance (and avoid extravagant late fees). Or, avoid this annoying report entirely and hire us to file your Florida Annual Report for you each year.

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What are the Taxes for a Florida Corporation?

Florida has a corporate net income tax with a flat rate of 5.5%. The first $50K of income is exempt.

Have an S corporation? Florida is one of the few states that doesn’t have a personal net income tax, typically eliminating your state-level income tax obligations (not that you won’t have other taxes, but no state income tax is a pretty nice perk).

The state sales tax rate is 6%. Florida counties can tack on additional sales taxes of up to 2%, making the average total sales tax rate 6.774%.

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Is a Registered Agent Required for a Florida Corporation?

Absolutely. You’ll have to list a Florida registered agent in your Articles of Incorporation and confirm that you’ve maintained a registered agent every year on your Annual Report. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire someone though. You could appoint yourself as your own registered agent—although this comes with a few substantial drawbacks. You’d have to put your name and the address where you’ll be available in your all-too-public business documents, like your Articles of Incorporation. Say goodbye to privacy and hello to junk mail. Even more annoying? You’ll have to actually BE available at the address you listed during regular business hours to accept any service of process. Not out wooing investors. Not locked away in meetings.

A better option? Hire Northwest Registered Agent. Our address will go on your docs, so you can better maintain your privacy. We’ll also be available to accept, scan and send you any legal notifications the same day.

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Florida Corporation Versus Florida LLC:

Generally speaking, costs are pretty comparable for both business entities. State filing fees for starting a corporation are a bit less than an LLC: $70 vs $125. When it comes to Annual Reports, LLCs have a slight edge: $138.75 vs $150 for corporations. All in all, there’s not a huge difference in fees. Because there’s no personal income tax in Florida, LLCs are fairly popular (no corporate or personal income tax!) However, most corporations that file the S corp election don’t have to pay state-level corporate or personal income taxes either.

So which one should you choose? It largely depends on how you want to run your business. Corporations and LLCs differ a bit in how they operate. Corporations are common choices for large or complex businesses (or those that hope to scale quickly). Why? Their formal internal structure makes it easy to manage lots of people and parts. Their long history is also beneficial—not only have they developed a sense of prestige and familiarity, but having a long legal history means there’s court precedence for any number of legal matters. This can be useful to help guide your corporation’s decisions in a confusing legal world. LLCs, on the other hand, are popular for small businesses because they don’t have all the formal requirements of a corporation. This can make an LLC easier to understand and operate, particularly for new business owners. Considering an LLC? Here’s information on starting an LLC in Florida.

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Do I Need a Tax ID Number (EIN) for a Florida Corporation?

Yes. The IRS requires corporations to get a federal tax ID (also called an EIN or FEIN) to use on federal tax filings. Your federal tax ID is actually pretty useful though—for a lot more than just taxes. Florida banking regulations are pretty strict, so to open a corporate bank account, you’ll almost certainly need your EIN. Your business may also be asked for your EIN when filing local taxes or applying for licenses or permits. You could hand over your personal SS# instead, but that just puts your personal info unnecessarily at risk. You can get an EIN for free if you fill out an application directly with the IRS. Want to save yourself some extra paperwork? Hire Northwest to get your EIN for you—just add on EIN service during checkout when you sign up for our services.

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Does a Florida Corporation Need a Business License?

Yes, Florida Statute §205.053 states that businesses must obtain a Local Business Tax Receipt before engaging in any business in Florida. The tax (formerly called an Occupational License) is administered on the county level. Tax costs vary based on the type of business and number of employees but are often under $100.

Does a Florida Corporation Need Bylaws?

The State of Florida doesn’t require you to submit bylaws to any department or agency. That said, bylaws are absolutely essential for organizing your Florida corporation.

There’s a lot to figure out when you first start your corporation. Who will be on the board of directors? How long will they be there? How will you replace them? How many directors are needed to pass a resolution? What about officers—who will they be? What responsibilities will they have? Will you have different classes of shares? Will they have different voting rights? These are all decisions you make and put in your corporate bylaws. And once your bylaws have been adopted, people outside your Florida corporation will want to see them as well. You often need bylaws to open a corporate bank account or even just to assure potential investors or partners that you are a legitimate business that has it all together.

Developing bylaws can be overwhelming—but Northwest has you covered. When you hire us to form your Florida corporation, we give you free corporate bylaws. We give you other free essential forms as well, from resolutions to meeting minute templates. We even have a form specifically for a resolution to open a corporate bank account (in case you encounter a particularly stodgy bank teller that insists upon a resolution granting you power to open an account). We’ve spent years refining and developing our forms to make it easier for our clients to do what they’re meant to do—run their businesses, not agonize over paperwork. Take a look at the free corporate forms we provide to help corporations form and maintain their businesses.

Florida Corporation Articles of Incorporation Requirements

Business Name

Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” or an abbreviation for one of these words. (Professional associations have different naming requirements and must include “Chartered,” “P.A.,“ or “Professional Association.”) Tip: Most businesses keep it short and sweet with “Corp” or “Inc.”

Principal Address

This is the main business office of your corporation and where you’ll receive mail (besides legal notifications). It must be a street address, so no PO boxes. Want to keep things simple with one address? When you hire Northwest as your registered agent, you can use our Florida address as your principal address.

Purpose

It sounds existential, but your “purpose” here is really just the business activities your corporation plans to engage in. This section is optional for most corporations. However, professional corporations (businesses providing state-licensed services, like doctors and lawyers) need to list a single specific service, such as “practicing medicine.” Tip: Most corporations are not professional corporations and are free to skip this section.

Authorized Shares

List the number of shares you want to create. You have to list at least one. Some or all of these shares can be distributed later on at your organizational meeting.

Directors and Officers

You can choose to list the names and addresses of directors and officers. This is entirely optional though, and any information included in your Articles of Incorporation will become part of the permanent public record of your Florida corporation.

Registered Agent Address

This is the Florida street address where your registered agent will be regularly available to accept legal notifications for your business. Tip: Hire Northwest and our address will go here (and you can avoid the data sellers and busybodies that come with publicly listing your own address).

Registered Agent

Include the name and signature of either an individual Florida resident (such as yourself) or a business that provides registered agent service (such as Northwest). Tip: Personally, we’re fans of Northwest.

Florida Incorporator

Your incorporator is the person who signs and submits your Articles to create your Florida corporation. It doesn’t have to be a director, officer, or anyone in your corporation—just someone you authorize to submit your Articles. Your incorporator must include their name, address and signature. Tip: We’ll be your incorporator when you hire Northwest.

Effective Date

Want to push off the start date for your corporation (for example, maybe the next tax period is just about to start)? You can list an effective date up to 90 days in the future. If you skip this section, your corporation’s start date will be the filing date. Tip: Most corporations skip this section.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®