How to Look Up an LLC in Florida? (Step by Step Guide)
If you are planning to name and establish an LLC in Florida, or you need to look for a particular company or service, you can search online and gain access to essential information about the entity.
With years of practice as a business consultant for limited liability companies and a thorough investigation of Florida business entities, I’ll provide an in-depth guide on how to look up a Florida LLC.
I consulted with legal advisors and attorneys to provide you with the necessary information about the subject.
- To look up a Florida LLC, visit the Division of Corporations' official website and use the Florida business entity search tool.
- You can search by entity name, registered agent, EIN, trademark name, street address, or ZIP code.
- Florida hosts over three million active business entities, with over 80% of them being LLCs.
- My experience has shown that you should follow the Florida naming requirements for LLCs if you want to reserve a specific name.
How to Look Up an LLC in Florida
There are several ways to look up an LLC in Florida.
1. Use the Florida Secretary of State Search Tool
To look up a Florida LLC, navigate through the Florida Department of State's Division of Corporations website and find the information you need.
Here is a step-by-step guide:
- Start by visiting the Florida Department of State's Division of Corporations website.
- Select "Search Records". Once you're on the website's homepage, locate the main menu and click on the "Search Records" option.
- On the search page, you can look for LLCs using different search criteria – name, filing number, registered agent’s name, trademark name, EIN, street address, or zip code .
- After deciding on the entity type and entering your desired search criteria, click the "Search" button. This action will initiate the search and reveal the results you've been waiting for.
If the LLC you're searching for exists in Florida, you'll be presented with a comprehensive list of results. These include the entity's name, mailing address, filing number, document number status, registered agent details, and date of formation.
Bonus Tip: Searching for a DBA Name
I once found myself in a situation where I only had a company's DBA name to go by. Initially, I thought I was at a dead end, but surprisingly, you can still find what you're looking for.
Simply visit the Fictitious Names section of the SunBiz.org website, where you can search for the entity using the owner's name, FEIN, or registration number.
a. Search by Name or Fictitious Name (DBA)
A Florida LLC name search will be the quickest and easiest option if you know the exact name of the LLC you are looking for. To search by name, enter the LLC's name in the search bar and click "Search."
If the LLC exists, you will see a list of results that includes the company's filing number, mailing address, document number, status, principal address, and date of formation.
"You can look for an LLC using its legal name, alternative name, or former name by using the "Name" search option. You can also use this option to conduct a partial name search."
- Delina Yasmeh, J.D./Tax LL.M, Distinguished Expert in Mergers & Acquisitions
For example, if you enter "ABC" into the Florida LLC name search field, you will see a list of results that includes any LLC with "ABC" in its name.
b. Search by Registered Agent Name
If you know the name of the LLC's registered agent, you can use this information to search. To complete this search, enter the Florida registered agent's name in the "Registered Agent" search field and click "Search."
Under the search bar, you will see a note giving instructions on entering the name. If you are searching for an individual, the order should be last name, first name, or Middle Initial. It is also acceptable to write partial names.
C. Search by the FEIN/EIN
The FEIN, or Federal Employer Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned to LLCs by the IRS. The EIN is also known as the SSN for businesses. To search by this number, enter the FEIN in the "FEIN/EIN" search field and click "Search."
2. Call the State
You can call the Florida Department of State to ask questions about the LLC you're interested in.
There was a time when I needed more details than what the online search provided, so I decided to call the Florida Department of State directly. Speaking to someone at the Division of Corporations was incredibly helpful. They answered all my questions about the LLC I was interested in.
The Division of Corporations phone number is 850-245-6000 and they operate from 8 am to 5 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
3. Send an Email
Another way to look up an LLC in Florida is to send an email to the Florida Department of State. Their email is CorpHelp@dos.myflorida.com.
4. Other Business Entity Search Alternatives
In addition to the primary method of using the Florida Department of State's Division of Corporations website for LLC searches, there are alternative strategies you can employ to uncover essential information about a business entity in Florida.
- Search Engines: Beyond Google, consider using Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yandex for your search queries. These engines can sometimes offer different results or highlight information not immediately apparent on Google. Use specific search operators like "site:" to narrow down results to relevant business directories or news articles about the LLC.
- Social Media Platforms: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are invaluable for researching businesses. LinkedIn is particularly useful for professional and business-related searches, offering insights into the company's employees, their roles, and network connections. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can provide information on the company's branding, customer engagement, and latest news or updates.
- Industry-Specific Databases: Depending on the LLC's sector, there may be databases tailored to that industry. For example, Crunchbase and AngelList are excellent for startups and tech companies, providing details on funding rounds, key personnel, and company milestones. For restaurants, platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor offer customer reviews and operational insights.
- Local Business Directories: Websites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Chamber of Commerce, and local business associations often list LLCs and provide reviews, accreditation statuses, and contact information. These sources can reveal the company's standing in the local business community and any customer service issues.
- Public Records and Legal Databases: Platforms like PACER (for accessing U.S. federal court records) or local county court websites can provide legal filings that mention the LLC, offering insights into litigation history, trademarks, and patents. This information can be crucial for understanding the legal standing and intellectual property assets of a business.
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How to Check If A Business Name Is Trademarked in Florida
To check if a business name is trademarked in Florida, you can follow these steps, which include both federal and state-level searches:
1. Federal Trademark Check (Through the USPTO)
The USPTO manages federal trademark registrations. Start by visiting their official website. On the USPTO website, look for the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
This tool allows you to search the USPTO's database of registered trademarks and prior pending applications to find marks that may prevent registration due to a likelihood of confusion refusal.
Conduct a search for the business name you're interested in. Carefully review the search results for any trademarks that are identical or similar to the business name you want to use.
Note: Pay attention to the goods and services listed for each trademark to assess the likelihood of confusion.
2. State Trademark Check (Through the Florida Department of State)
Look for the trademark search tool on the Florida Department of State's website. This tool allows you to search for active and inactive trademarks registered in the state.
Enter the business name you're interested in to see if there are any state-registered trademarks that could conflict with your desired name.
Similar to the federal search, review the results for any trademarks that may be identical or similar to your desired business name. Consider the categories of goods and services for each trademark to determine the potential for conflict.
Reasons to Perform a Search
Performing a trademark search before using or registering a new business name, logo, or slogan is crucial for several reasons:
- Avoid legal issues: Identifying potential conflicts with existing trademarks can help you avoid costly legal disputes over trademark infringement.
- Ensure uniqueness: A search helps ensure that your brand is unique, reducing the risk of confusion with other brands in the market.
- Protect your brand: By ensuring your trademark is unique and registrable, you can secure legal protection that helps safeguard your brand identity and reputation.
- Save time and resources: Discovering a conflict after you've invested in marketing or product development can be costly. A preliminary search helps avoid such wasted expenditures.
- Strategic planning: Understanding the landscape of similar trademarks can inform your branding strategy and help you position your brand effectively.
- Compliance with registration requirements: A search can help ensure that your trademark application will not be rejected due to a likelihood of confusion with an existing trademark, speeding up the registration process.
- Market research: The search process can also provide valuable insights into your market, including trends and the positioning of competitors.
- Enhance Brand Value: A unique and legally protected trademark can significantly increase the value of your brand, making it a more attractive asset in the event of a business sale, merger, or acquisition.
What is Sunbiz in Florida?
SunBiz in Florida is the Division of Corporations and operates similarly to the Delaware Division of Corporations. The state division is where applications for Florida Foreign Qualifications are filed for approval or where Florida corporations are registered.
How Often Are the Records on SunBiz Updated?
Records on SunBiz are updated every day. After processing electronic filings, images will show up in three working days. Non-electronic filing images are available five business days after review.
Can I Look Partial Names on the Sunbiz Website?
You can look for partial names on the Sunbiz website. Similar terms will appear if you enter the name on the Divisions of Corporations database.