Guide to Setting Up a Sole Proprietorship in Florida

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Guide to Setting Up a Sole Proprietorship in Florida

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

A sole proprietorship is one of the most simple ways to set up a business. Unlike other business entities, like limited liability companies or corporations, a sole proprietorship is not considered a distinct legal entity separate from its owner. Rather, states treat the individual owner and the business as the same, and so, the owner is personally responsible for the business's debts.

older-man-using-computer-in-office

Florida does not require you to register your sole proprietorship with the state as long as the business operates under your legal name. If you plan to run the business under a different name, such as a trade name, then you must register that name with the state.

Depending on the location of your business and what type of affairs you are engaged in, you may also have to obtain certain licenses or permits before you can legally operate in Florida. However, setting up a sole proprietorship in Florida can still be accomplished in just a few easy steps.

1. Choose a Business Name

A trade name, also known as a "doing business as" name, can be a useful tool for marketing or branding purposes. Again, you are not required to register your sole proprietorship in the state of Florida if you are planning on conducting business using your legal name. However, if you plan on using a trade name, continue to the next step to register your sole proprietorship and comply with state law.

2. Check the Availability of the Name

You must first check to see if the trade name you have chosen is available. You can check to see if your desired name is in use by going to the Florida Division of Corporation's website. If there is an existing business with the same, or very similar, name, you need to choose a different name.

3. Register the Trade Name

Once you have chosen an available trade name, you must file Florida's Trade Name Form and mail it to the Florida Department of State. Or you can file the form online. You must also pay the required filing fee.

4. Obtain an Employer Identification Number

If you wish to hire employees, you must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This unique, nine-digit number is used by the IRS to identify your business for federal tax purposes.

If you do not plan on hiring employees, you do not need to obtain an EIN. Instead, you can use your personal social security number for the same purposes. However, if you want to open a business bank account, some banks require you to have an EIN—even if you do not have employees.

5. Obtain the Necessary Permits and Licenses

Depending on the type of business you own and where you are located, Florida may require you to obtain certain permits or licenses. For example, you may need to apply for a local business tax receipt—Florida's version of a business license—depending on what county your business is located in.

If you would like help setting up a sole proprietorship in Florida, contact an online service provider who can help you get started.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.