Florida law does not require general partnerships to register with the state or to obtain a state business license. General partnerships are not independent business entities, so each partner is individually responsible for any business-related activity in which the partnership may engage. Florida does provide general partnerships with the option to register with the state, however, and this registration can make it easier for a general partnership to present a business face to the public. State registration provides a public record of the general partnership's existence and allows the state to certify the partnership's standing if the partners are looking for a loan or engaging in other business that requires substantiation of business activity.
Register a fictitious business name with the Florida department of state. If you plan to operate the business under a name that is different from the names of the partners, you must obtain state permission. Go to the Florida Department of State website. Use the "Look up a Business Name" database link to check the availability of the name you want to use. Access the "Electronic Filing & Certification" section, and click on "Fictitious Name Registration" to file a name application online. Alternatively, download an "Application for Registration of a Fictitious Name" from the "Forms" section of the website and file by mail. As of 2012, the processing fee for a fictitious name registration is $50.
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File a general partnership registration form with the Florida Secretary of State. Go to the state website and use the online filing system or download a registration form from the "General Partnership Forms" section. The form requests name and contact information for the partners and the business. File the form with the state with the required filing fee. As of 2012, the basic filing fee is $50. If you want the state to return a certified copy of the registration, include an additional $52.50. If you want the state to send you an official certification of the partnership's status, include an extra $8.75. It is usually a good idea to request both documents if you plan to apply for loans, submit job bids or do anything else that requires the partnership to submit official paperwork certifying its existence.
Obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Go to the IRS website. Use the online EIN application form to obtain an immediate number assignment. Alternatively, download IRS Form SS-4 from the website and submit it by fax or mail.
Conduct basic business formation activities. Draft and sign a general partnership agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of partners. This document is not required but is considered the best practice. Open a bank account using your EIN and the state registration paperwork.
Register with the Florida Department of Revenue if you plan to sell products at retail that require sales tax or if you plan to hire employees. Go to the department website. Use the online registration system to submit basic business information. Alternatively, download the "Florida Business Tax Application" and instructions and mail in the registration.
Register with the Florida New Hire Reporting Center if you plan to hire employees. Go to the new hire reporting center website. Use the online registration system to submit a new hire report. Alternatively, download the new hire report from the website and submit it by mail.
Obtain any occupational licenses or permits required. Certain types of business require the operators to be licensed, such as barbers, lawyers and physical therapists. Go to the website for the state board of the involved occupation. Each board will have separate licensing requirements. Use the Florida Regulated Industries Guide to look up the requirements for your occupation.
Apply for local permits and licenses. Cities and counties in Florida have their own regulations regarding businesses. Check the city and county websites where your partnership is located for any filing requirements that pertain to your type of business. For example, most cities have building permit and health department permit requirements for certain types of business activity that impacts the public.
- Florida Small Business: Partnerships
- Florida Department of State: Division of Corporations - Electronic Filing & Certification
- Florida Department of State: Division of Corporations - General Partnership Forms
- Florida Department of State: Partnership Registration Statement
- Citizen Media Law Project: Forming a Partnership in Florida
- Florida Department of Revenue: Registration and Account Maintenance
- FindLaw: Checklist -- Starting a Partnership
- Citizen Media Law Project: Choosing and Checking the Availability of a Business Name
- Internal Revenue Service: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online
- SBA.gov: Starting & Managing a Business
- FindLaw: Write a Partnership Agreement
- State of Florida: Florida Regulated Industries Guide
Terry Masters has been writing for law firms, corporations and nonprofit organizations since 1995, specializing in business topics, personal finance, taxation, nonprofit issues, and general legal and marketing content creation for the Internet. Terry holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a minor in finance.