Have you been asked to provide a Florida Certificate of Status (COS), also known as a Certificate of Good Standing, for your business? If you have or are planning on starting a business in Florida, you may be wondering what a Certificate of Status is and why you might need one.
A COS is a legal document that proves that a certain business entity exists and is authorized to conduct business within the state. It provides evidence that the company is in compliance with state law.
Certificates of Status and may be referred to as Certificates of Existence, Status Certificates, or Certificates of Authorization. In Florida, a Certificate of Status is issued by the State of Florida Division of Corporations.
You may be unsure if your business qualifies for a COS or how to get one. ZenBusiness can help keep you in good standing through its worry-free compliance services. For a good idea of everything else you need to know about how to get a Florida Certificate of Status, read our guide below.
What does a Certificate of Status confirm?
A COS is a legal document that confirms that a business exists and is authorized to operate in the State of Florida. This means that a business has:
- Registered as a corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), or another approved business entity
- Completed and filed annual reports
- Paid franchise taxes and other required state fees
The state of Florida Certificate of Status contains the following information:
- Certification date
- Signature of the Florida Secretary of State
- State-issued authenticity code
- Seal of the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations
- Name of business
- Date of legal business formation
- Confirmation of good standing
- Authorization to transact business
Why might a business need a Florida Certificate of Status?
It’s not mandatory for businesses to keep a COS at all times, but some business processes may require one for legal validation.
If your business was formed in Florida, then it’s domestic (in-state) to Florida but foreign (out-of-state) to other states. You’ll likely be required to provide a COS from Florida to get authorization to conduct business as a foreign entity.
Certain kinds of business entities are also required to keep businesses and personal finances separate. Therefore, you may need to open a business bank account. Before you can open an account, however, the bank may want to see a COS for your business.
Check out this list of other common processes that may require a COS:
- Securing funding
- Buying business insurance
- Selling/transferring part or all of the business
- Renewing certain permits and licenses
What Florida entities can obtain a COS?
To obtain a Certificate of Status from the state of Florida, you must register the business with the Florida Division of Corporations (DOC). Entities such as LLCs and corporations can apply for a COS once they’ve registered as an entity. Florida requires the following business entities to register:
- Non-profit corporations
- Limited partnerships
- Fictitious name registrations
The DOC doesn’t require informal entities like sole proprietorships or general partnerships to register unless they’re operating under a name other than the legal name of the owner(s).
How to get a Florida Certificate of Status
Not sure how to access your Florida COS? To learn how to obtain a Florida COS, see the steps below.
Check to make sure your business is in compliance
To qualify for a Certificate of Status, businesses in Florida must satisfy state compliance requirements. This means that your business must stay up to date on various taxes, licenses, and reports. You can obtain a Certificate of Compliance from the Florida Department of Revenue. It’s important to properly manage your records and deadlines so you can avoid expensive fines and increased liability.
Licenses and Permits
States generally have their own licensing regulations for businesses to follow. Your business may be subject to federal, state, and local licensing. Check for your specific licensing requirements with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, then file for any missing licenses or permits.
Many Florida businesses aren’t required to pay state income taxes. However, corporations registered in Florida must file corporate income tax returns except when exempt. The Florida Department of Revenue imposes other taxes that you should familiarize yourself with.
For-profit corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships, and liability limited partnerships are required to file annual reports. The DOS website provides instructions on how to file an annual report. If you’d prefer to focus on running your business, ZenBusiness can easily and accurately file your annual report for you.
Go to Florida’s business website to request a Certificate of Status
Since you’ve made sure your business is in compliance with the state’s requirements, you can now order a Certificate of Status from the DOS. Locate your 6- or 12-digit business number from your state notice or by searching the DOS records. Then, enter the number in the indicated field. You’ll need to provide your email address to receive the digital Certificate of Status copy. You can pay for your order with a credit card, debit card, or prepaid Sunbiz e-file account. Fees range from $8.75 to $10, depending on the type of entity.
Alternatively, you can request a Certificate of Status by mail. In writing, include the following information:
- Your entity’s name
- The Florida document or registration number
- The type of document
- The date the document was filed with the Division of Corporations
- Payment in the form of a check or money order, payable to the Florida Department of State.
Address your request to the Certification Section at the DOS.
Make sure your Certificate of Status will be valid for its intended use
The validity of your COS depends on the state of formation of the entity making the request. A COS doesn’t necessarily expire, as in Florida, and is valid for as long as your business remains in compliance. Many banks, investors, and other parties may impose their own guidelines for Certificate of Status validity. Most will require that the COS be no older than 60 days. You’ll also need to check an individual state’s dating requirements if you’re registering as a foreign entity.
Send to the requesting party
If you’ve confirmed your business’s compliance and received either a digital or printed copy of your Certificate of Status, you’re nearly done. Once you’ve confirmed that your COS is valid, you can forward a copy to the requesting party or entity.
Compliance may not be simple to keep up with, especially when considering all the other aspects that make a business go round. At ZenBusiness, we understand that your business needs don’t stop after the business has been registered. ZenBusiness can help keep you in good standing with our worry free compliance service. With this service, we not only help keep your business in compliance, but we can also secure a Florida Certificate of Status for you if you need one; you just pay the state fees. And, if you don’t have worry free compliance but still need a COS, our Certificate of Good Standing service can help.
Florida Certificate of Status FAQs
How much does a Florida Certificate of Status cost?
Depending on the type of business entity, a Florida COS costs between $8.75 and $10 as of 2021.
How long will it take to get my Florida Certificate of Status?
If you order your COS online, you’ll receive the PDF as soon as your payment processes. Requests by mail are subject to normal postal and office processing times.
Can I expedite a Florida COS request?
The DOS doesn’t offer expedited services.
Is a COS required to stay compliant in Florida?
Businesses formed in Florida aren’t required to obtain a COS. Foreign entities that wish to do business in Florida are required to obtain a valid Certificate of Status from their state of formation.