You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Florida LLC, and you’re mentally prepared to make it happen. But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Articles of Organization.
With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Articles of Organization is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in Florida. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Florida LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.
But before you dive into the Articles of Organization, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.
Quick Note: If you’d like to have an online service file the Articles of Organization for you or simply need to save time, hire an LLC formation service. Two popular options are LegalZoom and ZenBusiness.
Choosing an LLC Name
Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Articles of Organization, and if the Department of State deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.
Make the state happy by following their LLC name requirements, which say your name must indicate its business type by including the words “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.,” or “LLC.” But following this rule won’t matter if your name is already taken. Perform a business name search to find out whether or not your name is available in Florida. And if it’s taken, you’ll need to find a way to make it distinguishable.
Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Articles of Organization to automatically register it. Many states offer an option to reserve a business name, but unfortunately, Florida does not.
Choosing a Florida Registered Agent
A registered agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. Don’t sit down to complete your Articles of Organization without first having confirmed a valid registered agent, as you’ll need to include the agent’s name, address, and signature on the document.
Your registered agent can be either an individual Florida resident (with a physical address in the state) or a corporation authorized to do business in Florida, like a registered agent service.
Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your registered agent in the future.
Preparing to File Your Florida Articles of Organization
Now for the main event: the Articles of Organization. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in Florida.
The Articles of Organization is important, it’s the fulcrum on which your LLC’s authorization balances, but don’t be intimidated! It’s actually pretty short and sweet. Collect this information beforehand and you’ll be finished in no time:
- LLC name
- Principal office address
- Mailing address
- Registered agent name, address, and signature
- Each member or manager’s name and address
- An effective date up to 90 days after the filing (optional)
If you’re filing a hard copy, you’ll also need to submit a cover letter including your name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.
Get your checkbook or credit card ready, because, like most government applications, the Articles of Organization comes with a fee – $125 to be exact. You can also request a certified copy for $30 and/or a certificate of status for $5.
When it comes to the actual filing process, you’ve got options. Depending on your processes and preferences, you can submit your application online, by mail, or in person.
If you want to start your LLC as soon as possible, consider the online option, as it’s the fastest of the three methods. Use the Department of State’s e-Filing portal to complete your electronic application.
Prefer a paper form? No problem. Download the hard copy application and complete it using a PDF editor or black ink. Include a check or money order (payable to “Florida Department of State”) and send your documents to:
New Filing Section
Division of Corporations
P.O. Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
After you’ve finished the paper application/cover letter and included your payment, you can also hand-deliver them to the Clifton Building at 2661 Executive Center Circle, Tallahassee, FL 32314.
Wondering when your form will be processed? You’re not alone. But the good news is that the Department of State anticipated your question. Since documents are processed in the order they’re received, wait times can vary. But the state provides a running table of current processing times for different filing types. Keep an eye on it to see when your Articles of Organization will be officially filed.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Florida), but what if your business is expanding to Florida from another state? Then don’t worry about the Articles of Organization, as it’s not the correct form for you.
Rather, your LLC will need to submit an Application for Authorization, a process called foreign qualification. The form itself is quite similar to the Articles of Organization; it even costs the same ($125) and includes a cover letter. Don’t try to conduct business in Florida without having first foreign qualified, or your business could face serious fines and penalties.
But after the Department of State has granted you authorization, you’re free to kick off business activities in Florida!
Want Help Filing Your Articles of Organization?
Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.
The good news is that you don’t need to file the Articles of Organization yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.
There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.
While each service has optional upgrades and perks packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the Florida Department of State. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization has been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.
There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents (like Annual Reports), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.
Which is the Best LLC Service?
All you need to do now is research every service extensively and make side-by-side comparisons for each option. Easy, right? Just kidding – we did all of that for you.
And from our meticulous research of reviewing and ranking the top LLC services, we’ve drawn the conclusion that IncFile and Northwest are your best overall options.
They might not have the brand recognition of LegalZoom, the industry giant, but both have amazing customer support, affordable prices, and include a year of registered agent service.