Florida Business Name Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
Even with the help of business services through the Secretary of State, registering a business has financial consequences. Always discuss business setup with a business attorney.
How to search for Florida business names
Florida’s government uses the Florida Department of State in place of the Florida secretary of state. It has a separate website called Sunbiz.org for searching and registering new businesses and filing documents related to the business.
Florida gives you several options to check for business names, though the search you need is the business entity search. The search tool defaults to “Entity Name.” If you need to search for a Florida trademark name, click the “Trademark Name” or “Trademark Owner Name” links to search.
To search for a business name on Sunbiz.org:
- Step 1: Navigate to the Department of State’s Sunbiz.org search tool.
- Step 2: Enter the business name you need to search.
- Step 3: Click the “Search Now” button.
If the system does not return results, the name is most likely available. If the system returns results, it will return exact and similar names.
How to register a business name in Florida
Instead of requiring a business to create an account, Florida uses different filing tools for the various types of entities. It also requires you to have a document number to locate a filing. Be sure to write down and save the document number and print out the filing when it is completed.
- To file a new limited liability company, navigate to Sunbiz’s LLC page. Tick the box that states you read the disclaimer, then click the “Start New Filing” button.
- To file a new for-profit corporation, navigate to Sunbiz’s Corporation filing page. Tick the box that states you read the disclaimer, then click the “Start New Filing” button.
- To file a new nonprofit corporation, navigate to Sunbiz’s Nonprofit Corporation filing page. Tick the box that states you read the disclaimer, then click the “Start New Filing” button.
- To file a new limited liability partnership or limited liability limited partnership, navigate to Sunbiz’s partnership filing page. Tick the box that states you read the disclaimer, then click the “Start New Filing” button.
- Follow the instructions on the respective page to register the business.
Florida trademark/DBA name search
Florida trademarks only protect the trademarked property within the State of Florida. Search for trademarks using the same search tool as for a company name. If a business owner wishes to determine whether a business name or logo has been trademarked at the federal level, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Check if the domain name is available
Before a business registers its name, the business owner should take additional steps to ensure that the name is available for domain and social media use. While the domain name and social media accounts or pages do not have to have the same name as the business, it is better for marketing purposes. If another person or entity is already using the name, a prospective business owner can choose another name to register at the state level or use a different name that describes the business for the domain name and social media accounts.
Once a prospective business owner determines a business name is available, he should check for domain name availability at any of the registry sites like GoDaddy. If the name is available, register it as soon as possible.
If a domain name is not available
If the name with the dot-com extension is in use, do not use another extension like a dot-net extension.
Because the names will be too similar, which is allowed for domains, you could end up losing customers to a competitor as they will go to the dot-com site instead of your business’s dot-net site.
Check if the social media name is available
Adding social media accounts allows you to market for next to nothing, if not for free. The best option is to have a social media page or account with the same business name. However, social media sites do not require businesses to have different names. To keep customers from going to a competitor, enter the business name in the search box.
If a business is already using the business name, choose a name that describes the business. For example, a business named ABC Widgets might use Florida’s ABC Widgets.
Naming considerations for Florida business entities
Florida requires every business name to have the proper naming convention for the type of entity a business chooses. Names cannot imply that a company is a state or federal agency.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
Sole proprietorships do not have to register with Sunbiz.org under Florida law. However, if a sole proprietor wishes to do business under a fictitious name (‘doing business as’ or DBA name), it must register the fictitious name.
General partnerships are not required to register. However, if the partnership decides to register, it can file a partnership registration statement with the Department of State. The registration statement includes:
- The partnership name.
- The street address of the chief executive and principal offices of the partnership.
- The names and mailing addresses for all partners.
- Alternatively, the partners can provide the name and street address of an agent maintained by the partnership. The agent must have the names and contact information for all of the partners.
- The partnership’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
- The partner’s name and recorded document number or the agent named, if not a partner.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
Limited liability companies must include one of the following phrases, words, or abbreviations in the Florida LLC name:
- Limited liability company.
Florida statutes recognize two types of limited partnerships: The limited partnership and the limited liability limited partnership.
A limited partnership must include “limited partnership,” “L.P.” or “LP” in its name. A limited liability limited partnership must include “limited liability limited partnership,” “LLLP” or “L.L.L.P.” in its name.
A corporation, whether profit or nonprofit, must include one of these words or abbreviations in its business entity name:
How are business licenses obtained in Florida?
Review the regulations for cities and counties to learn more about Florida business licenses. In some cases, a business might need a business license for the city and another business license for the county.
Does my business need a Federal Employer Identification Number?
Yes. A prospective business owner can apply for the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), or we can obtain the FEIN for you. Though a sole proprietor is not required to have a FEIN, we recommend that you do.
Does my business need a registered agent?
If the business is not a sole proprietorship or non-registered partnership, it needs a registered agent. The registered agent must be a Florida corporation or individual. The agent must also be in the office during all regular business hours – generally from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
What does a registered agent do?
A registered agent makes itself available to accept services of process, documents from the Department of State, and other legal documents. It ensures that the business owner or CEO receives the documents in a timely manner.
Does my business have to file an annual report?
Yes. Every registered business must file an annual report. If the annual report is late, the Department of State charges a $400 late fee. If the business does not submit the annual report prior to the third Friday in September, the Department of State administratively dissolves the corporation.
Why was my filing rejected?
All businesses must meet the minimum requirements in their filings. If a business does not meet the requirements, the Department of State rejects the filing. Visit the Department of State’s website to enter your tracking number and PIN to submit a correct filing.
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