How to File Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Florida

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Florida is easy — and the first task is filing your Articles of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the nine steps required to file the Articles of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in Florida.

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Getting Started

To start a domestic nonprofit corporation in Florida, you must file the Not for Profit Articles of Incorporation. This guide covers each step you must take to fill out this document successfully and get on the right track to forming a Florida nonprofit.

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name
Step 2: Confirm Your Mailing Address(es)
Step 3: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose
Step 4: Outline Your Policy for Appointing Directors
Step 5: Name Your Initial Board of Directors
Step 6: Choose a Registered Agent
Step 7: Add Your Incorporator Information
Step 8: Provide Any Additional Attachments
Step 9: File Formation Documents

(Check out our other guides for a look at how to start a nonprofit organization or how to file articles of incorporation in other states.)

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

The first step to filling out the Florida Not-for-Profit Articles of Incorporation is to list your organization’s name in article one of the document. If you haven’t gone through the process of establishing a name for your organization, besides doing a Florida name search, here are the requirements for naming a nonprofit in Florida:

  • Your corporation’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Florida, including any reserved names.
  • Your corporation’s name must include “corporation,” “incorporated,” “Corp,” or “Inc.”
  • Your corporation’s name can’t include any words that imply it’s related to a government agency.
  • Your corporation’s name can’t include the word “company” or “Co.”

Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in Florida, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Florida.

Search the Availability of Your Name

After selecting potential names — ideally, at least four or five — it’s important to search for their availability in your state. You can do this by conducting the four recommended searches outlined below, or use our 501(c)(3) Lookup Table.

Florida Business Entity Search
To operate in Florida, a nonprofit corporation must have a unique name. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the Florida Business Entity Search tool.

Domain Name Search
We strongly recommend that you also check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL). Even if you don’t plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring that domain name. It’s a free search.

Federal Trademark Search
You can easily check if someone already trademarked your chosen nonprofit name by using the federal Trademark Electronic Search System. This is important even if you don’t plan to form your nonprofit right away.

Once you confirm that no one else already trademarked your chosen name, you can apply for a trademark for your nonprofit.

Web and Social Media Search
A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors as well as clients that will use your services. That makes it important to search the web and popular social media platforms for your desired name before registering it to ensure it’s available on all the platforms where you plan to promote your organization.

Step 2: Confirm Your Mailing Address(es)

In article two, enter the street address of your nonprofit’s principal office. If your organization’s mailing address is different from its street address, enter the mailing address as well.

Step 3: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose

In article three of the formation document, describe your nonprofit’s purpose for organizing. Its purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics to be eligible for 501(c)(3) status:

  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Literary
  • Testing for public safety
  • Fostering national/international amateur sports competition
  • Preventing cruelty to animals/children

Step 4: Outline Your Policy for Appointing Directors

In article four, describe the manner in which your organization will elect and appoint its board of directors.

Step 5: Name Your Initial Board of Directors

Florida requires you to name a minimum of three board directors on your Articles of Incorporation along with a mailing address for each. When listing your nonprofit’s initial board of directors, follow these requirements:

  • Don’t include any prefixes, such as “Mr.” or “Ms.”
  • If applicable, use titles of lineage.
  • If applicable, use designations like “M.D.” or “Ph.D.”

For a complete guide to forming your nonprofit’s board of directors, read our How to Develop a Board of Directors for a Nonprofit in Florida article.

Step 6: Choose a Registered Agent

registered agent is required to file the Articles of Incorporation in Florida. Either an individual or a business may fill this role. A registered agent’s responsibilities include accepting and forwarding service of process documents for the corporation as well as serving as a point of contact for the entity.

Your nonprofit corporation can’t serve as its own registered agent.

Complete article six by entering the name and street address of your chosen registered agent.

Note: Your registered agent must sign this formation document either physically or electronically before you file it with the state.

Recommended: Using an affordable registered agent service offers many benefits. For more information on choosing a registered agent service, read our full guide.

Step 7: Add Your Incorporator Information

The incorporator — the person who completes and submits the Articles of Incorporation — must sign the formation document and include their mailing address in article seven.

Step 8: Provide Any Additional Attachments

In order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you must include some additional statements in your Articles of Incorporation related to the distribution of assets upon dissolution.

Here’s what you need to know to correctly disclose this information:

Outline the Distribution of Assets Upon Dissolution

Describe how the nonprofit corporation’s assets will be distributed upon its dissolution. If additional space is needed, use an attachment.

To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, your nonprofit must distribute its assets upon dissolution to approved, tax-exempt purposes only. For more information about the requirements of dissolution and 501(c)(3) status, refer to the sixth section of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’) suggested language for corporations and associations.

Step 9: File Formation Documents

There are two ways to file your Articles of Incorporation in Florida: online or by mail.

File the Florida Articles of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With Florida SunBiz

File Online

– OR –

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Download Form

Fee: $70 ($35 filing fee + $35 registered agent designation)

Mailing Address:
Department of State, Division of Corporations
P.O. Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in Florida?

Filing your Not for Profit Articles of Incorporation in Florida requires a filing fee of $35 plus a $35 fee to designate your registered agent.

How do I find the Articles of Incorporation in Florida?

You can find the Articles of Incorporation for nonprofit corporations via the Florida Division of Corporations SunBiz website or print a physical copy.

How do I find nonprofits in Florida?

Use our handy Florida 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to find nonprofits in Florida. You can use this tool to see if your preferred nonprofit name is in use or not.

Florida Nonprofit Quick Links

IRS: Information for Charities and Nonprofits
IRS: Charity – Required Provisions for Organizing Documents
IRS: Form 990 Series for Tax-Exempt Organizations
IRS: Applying for Tax-Exempt Status
IRS: 501(c)(3) Compliance Guide
US Small Business Administration: Apply for Licenses and Permits
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Florida Division of Corporations: Forms
Florida Department of Revenue: New Business Start-Up Kit
Florida 501(c)(3) Lookup Table

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