To search for business entities in Florida, you must go to the SunBiz Secretary of State website. Look up a company's registration status or complaint history, as maintained by FDACS. The division of corporations is the official index of business entities and the website of business activities for the State of Florida. Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations.
If you're going to operate as a sole proprietor, you can skip this step and apply for business licenses on your behalf. Before you can apply for licenses on behalf of your company, you must create your company in the state of Florida. If you don't use your own name for the company, you'll need to apply for fictitious name registration. To form your business, you must choose a name that follows Florida guidelines for naming an LLC and then file your statutes with the Florida Department of State.
An LLC (limited liability company) is a type of business structure that determines financial and legal liabilities. The main issuer of business licenses is the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). This means that business gains and losses are transferred to the owner to be taxed as personal income, rather than corporate income. Licensing and permit requirements are highly dependent on the type of work you do and where you operate.
The State of Florida supports those who want to have a business there and created a portal that will guide you through the process of understanding which Florida agencies regulate your business and provide you with a checklist of the licenses, permits and registrations needed to start your business. If you have organized your business as an LLC (or corporation), you can also choose corporate federal tax treatment with the IRS, usually such as an S corporation or a C corporation. Almost every county in Florida requires businesses to obtain a business tax receipt before doing business in the county. Check if a person is licensed (or has applied for a license) as a private investigator, security officer, or recovery agent.
That's true even if you're a one-member company, in which case you'll form a single-member LLC in Florida. It's a popular business entity option, because it provides the liability protection of a corporation and is easy to operate.