How to Keep Your Business Private in Florida
Business Privacy in Florida
The Florida Public Records Act
The Florida Public Records Act began in 1909 with the passage of Chapter 119 of the Florida State Statutes. The law requires that all records made or received by a public agency be made available to the public when requested.
These records include all business filings made with state, county and local agencies.
Known as the Sunshine Law, these statutes are not necessarily poor legislation, but it is important to realize that the law is not concerned with how to protect your privacy in Florida. The goal of the law is transparency in government. To protect your identity, business owners need a strategy that works within the law and achieves their goal of true privacy in Florida.
How the Public Records Law Affects Privacy in Florida
To protect your privacy in Florida, it is best to first understand how your privacy is violated.
When you file formation documents with the Division of Corporations, you must list a principal office address. This would be your place of business (or your home, if you work from there). Once filed, your address becomes public information.
Each year, you are required to file an annual report. Florida annual reports require a listed member name. If you are the sole owner of your company, that member is you. Once processed, your name becomes public information.
These documents are entered into the records of the Department of State, and they can be accessed in two ways: through an online business search, or in person at the DOS office. Anyone who knows the name of your company can easily retrieve, read, copy and print these documents whenever they want.
To protect your privacy in Florida, these documents must list something other than your personal information.
How Can I Keep My Information Out of the Public Record?
If you want to protect your identity, you need to hire a professional FL registered agent. If you hire us, we can file your formation documents and use our name and registered office on your filing. To protect your privacy in Florida, this is the first step. It removes your address from the Department of State records.
We can also help you keep your name off your annual report. This requires that you form two Florida limited liability companies. Each LLC will be listed as the owner of the other, so when the annual reports are filed, it is the companies that are listed as members, not you. This is a fully Private Florida LLC structure, and it will protect your identity if properly maintained.
Can I Form an Anonymous Florida LLC?
We can form an anonymous LLC for you with our Private Florida LLC structure. We form two LLCs instead of one. One LLC will be your business, and the other Florida LLC will be a fully legal holding company. With this structure, we keep your personal information out of the public record.
Unfortunately, you cannot do this yourself. It requires a registered office address to provide on your formation documents instead of your own principal office location.
Can I Form an Anonymous Florida Corporation?
No. There is no way to form a completely anonymous Florida corporation and protect your privacy.
Who Can Access the Public Records?
Anyone. They are completely open and anyone can access them at any time.
If My Formation Documents Have Already Been Filed, Can I Remove My Information From the Public Record?
No. Once your information is there, it cannot be removed, and you can no longer protect your identity in Florida.
If your privacy is critical to you, your best strategy is to dissolve your company and start over. Dissolution won’t remove the records already there, but it will prevent any further records from accumulating.
Do I Need a Registered Agent to Be Anonymous in Florida?
Yes. Your registered agent can list their location on certain documents as your principal address, which keeps your information private. If you are serious about wanting to protect your identity, you should select a reliable agent before making any filing with the Division of Corporations.