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Setting up an LLC for your business can be an effective way to separate your personal and business finances and affairs. In Georgia, the process is relatively simple and affordable compared to other states. Using Georgia’s online system, you can easily walk yourself through the LLC formation process from start to finish.
To establish your own Georgia LLC, follow these steps:
8 steps to start an LLC in Georgia
1. Choose a name for your LLC
When choosing a name for your business, consider something that is marketable, and reflects the products or services you provide. Your LLC name also must be unique from any other business in Georgia. As you brainstorm LLC names, keep in mind that using certain words may be off limits or require permission.
For example, written permission from Georgia’s office of commissioner of insurance is required if you plan to use the following words in your LLC name:
In addition, you need approval from the Georgia department of banking and finance to use these words in your name:
- Banking company.
- Banking house.
- Credit union.
- Savings & loans.
- Trust company.
You also need to file extra paperwork with the Georgia nonpublic postsecondary education commission if you want to use the words ‘college’ or “university” in your business name.
Using Georgia’s name search tool, you can see if your desired name is available. If you find that the name is already in use, you can distinguish it from an already-existing name by:
- Changing the sequence of words within the name.
- Adding or removing words.
- Creatively spelling words.
Adding or removing “and” or the ampersand symbol (&), “an,” or “inc” does not differentiate it. Adding or removing punctuation or using derivatives or suffixes to a word also does not distinguish it.
Check that your name is marketable by searching for the domain name and social media handle versions of it. Also, ensure it’s not federally protected against infringement by searching for it using the United States patent and trademark office’s trademark electronic search system (TESS).
Once you’ve selected an LLC name that meets all the requirements, you can either use it to establish your business or reserve it for 30 days. Name reservations come with a $25 fee if you’re filing online or a $35 fee for paper filing. Visit the Georgia online services page, create a user account and select “name reservation,” then follow the prompts to complete and pay for your reservation.
2. Select a registered agent
A registered agent is a person or entity that receives important legal and government correspondence for a company. In Georgia, a registered agent must:
- Have a physical address (not a P.O. box).
- Be available at that address to receive correspondence during all regular business hours. If the registered agent is a person, that person should not leave the address for paid time off, sick leave, client meetings or business travel during regular business hours.
- Be 18 years of age or older (if a person).
- Be able and willing to receive business correspondence, then notify a responsible party within the LLC who can address it in a timely manner.
- Not be the business entity itself. However, you can appoint a person or a third-party business that has the authority to operate within the state of Georgia.
Many LLCs find difficulty fulfilling these requirements internally, so they often outsource the task to a registered agent service provider. Some outsource the task to the LLC’s lawyer, though this comes with the same difficulties as appointing an internal owner, officer or manager. The lawyer also would not be able to leave the office to attend to a client’s needs during regular business hours.
Businesses that outsource this duty to a registered agent service provider enjoy the following benefits:
- Privacy: Using a registered agent service means you can list that third party’s address, instead of your own personal address, as your business’s registered agent address. This keeps your private home address off public registered agent databases.
- Flexibility: Individuals within the LLC can leave the office without concern that essential correspondence will arrive in their absence. Even when LLC personnel are not in the office, a registered agent service provider is always available during regular business hours to receive such correspondence on the LLC’s behalf.
- Discretion: By sending legal correspondence to a third-party service provider, the LLC reduces the risk that embarrassing notices, such as those announcing the LLC is being sued, getting delivered to the company’s office in front of customers or employees.
- Document management: A registered agent service provider offers features that help LLCs stay on top of essential business filings and deadlines. For example, it may offer a calendar of annual paperwork filing due dates and alert stakeholders if a key document needs to be addressed promptly.
Hiring a registered agent service provider costs anywhere from $0 to $300 per year, depending on the provider and its plan features. Read our best registered agent service guide to choose the best fit for your business needs.
3. File your articles of organization
Now that you’ve done all the prep work, you’re ready to submit your LLC’s articles of organization. This step legally creates your LLC and is completed using the Georgia corporation division’s section of the secretary of state’s website. The system will walk you through the entire process.
To file your articles of organization, you will need the following information:
- Your LLC’s name (or its name reservation number) and mailing address.
- Your name and address.
- Your LLC’s (or your) email address.
- Information on your LLC’s designated registered agent, including its name and address.
- The name and addresses of all your LLC’s organizers (members).
- Your payment information, such as a credit card, check or money order to cover the $100 filing fee.
If you want to customize any of the tenants in this document, you need to prepare the language before you begin the application process. We advise doing so with the help of a business lawyer.
It is most cost-effective to file your articles of organization online. Filing by mail or in person comes with an extra $10 in filing fees. To file online, visit the Georgia secretary of state online services page. Create an account and sign in. Once you’ve logged in, click “create or register a business,” then “domestic limited liability company.” Use the information you’ve prepared to fill out the form as prompted. When appropriate, pay using a credit or debit card.
Once your paperwork is processed, the state of Georgia will send you your official certificate of formation. Its standard processing time is about seven days, but you can expedite the process by paying an additional fee. For $100, your paperwork can be processed in two business days. For same-day turnaround, file by noon and pay an additional fee of $250. The standard processing time for a customized tenant is 10 to 14 days, but the fees are the same.
4. Obtain an employer identification number (EIN)
Once you have your certificate of formation, apply for an employer identification number (EIN). This number identifies your LLC, much like a Social Security number identifies a person. You’ll need an EIN to file taxes, open a business bank account and apply for business licenses. You’ll also need an EIN if you wish to apply for state grant opportunities for small businesses, though there aren’t many available in Georgia.
Applying for an EIN is free and takes about 15 minutes. The process is easiest and quickest online. You need the following information to apply:
- Your LLC’s name and business type.
- The name, Social Security number and phone number of your LLC’s responsible party (someone who manages the company’s finances and assets).
- Your LLC’s street address.
- The reason you are applying (i.e., “started a new business”).
- The products or services you offer.
- Whether you expect to hire employees and when their first wages were/will be issued.
- The business’s start date.
- The closing month of your LLC’s accounting year.
Once you submit the application, you will immediately receive your EIN via a printable confirmation page. Download and print the page, then file it with your other important business documents for future reference.
5. Register with the Georgia department of revenue
Some businesses are required to register with the Georgia department of revenue’s tax center. Businesses that collect sales tax or hire employees must also register with Georgia’s tax center. Additional LLCs that must register include those in the following industries:
- Adult entertainment.
- International fuel.
- Motor fuel distribution.
- Phone services.
- Public utilities.
- Timberland property.
- Railroad equipment.
- Transportation services.
- Coin-operated amusement machines.
To register with this center, provide your business name, EIN, street address and mailing address. You can access the application by visiting the Georgia tax center’s “register new business” page. Once you register, you will have access to your online account where you can pay taxes as necessary and register for more accounts as the need arises (if you hire employees, for example).
6. Open a business bank account
When you establish an LLC, do not mix your personal and business finances. This is known as “piercing the corporate veil” and could remove the limited liability protection that makes LLC business structures so attractive.
To keep your personal and business finances separate, consider opening a business checking account to process all your profits and expenses. Most banks and credit unions require your certificate of formation, articles of organization and EIN to open an account. Most also require an initial deposit, often around $100. Contact a local bank to find out the exact requirements for opening a business account and the amount of your mandatory initial deposit.
7. Obtain state business licenses and permits (as needed)
Some industries require licensing from the state. Examples of sectors and professionals that need a license include:
- Animal care.
- Athletics and entertainment.
- Building and contractors.
- Counseling and therapies.
- Environmental services.
- Funerals and cemeteries.
- Transportation and security.
- Some healthcare professions.
License application processes in Georgia usually come with a processing fee. For example, a veterinary technician license fee is $100, while an auction company license is $210 with a mandatory $150 contribution to the auctioneer recovery fund.
You can learn more about licensing requirements and fees by visiting Georgia’s licensing divisions website. Scroll down the page to see the list of industries that often require licenses or permits in Georgia. Click on your industry to learn more about licensing requirements.
In addition, you may need to apply for licenses in the county or city of your LLC’s operating location. Contact your local chamber of commerce office or the county or municipal government to find out who regulates and issues licenses locally. You can find contact information for your local chamber of commerce on Georgia’s chamber of commerce directory page.
8. File annual reports
In the state of Georgia, you need to submit a report every year. Otherwise, your LLC will be administratively dissolved and you will have to pay a $250 fee to have it reinstated. The annual filing’s purpose is to log changes or confirm no changes to your business or registered agent addresses. The annual report filing fee is $50, and you can file for up to three years in advance.
Your annual filings are due between January 1 and April 1 of each calendar year, starting with the year after you establish your LLC. So, if you formed your business at any point in 2023, your first annual filing is due between January 1, 2024 and April 1, 2024.
To file your annual report, visit the Georgia corporations division one-click annual registration page. On this page, first choose whether you want to file for the current year, two consecutive years (i.e., 2023 and 2024) or three consecutive years (i.e., 2023, 2024 and 2025) by selecting the corresponding box. Then, search by your business name using the “search business” search bar. From there, follow the prompts to update your information, pay your filing fee and submit your form.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
No, you cannot set up an LLC for free in Georgia. There is a minimum $100 filing fee to register your LLC. Other fees that may apply include reserving a business name for $25 to $35. Fees for hiring a registered agent range from $0 to $300 per year. And, depending on your business type or industry, you may be required to apply for business licenses or permits, which come with a wide range of pricing (usually $100 to $200 each).
There are LLC formation service providers that can help you start your LLC in Georgia and, in doing so, help you lower your costs. Some, for example, offer free registered agent services for one year if you form your LLC using their services. You can learn more about them by reading our best LLC services guide.
An LLC is a pass-through entity, meaning the business often does not pay taxes. Rather, the members pay taxes on their personal income tax returns based on their percentage of ownership in the business. However, if you elect to have your LLC taxed as a corporation rather than a pass-through entity, Georgia’s corporate tax rate is 5.75% of the LLC’s taxable net income. Additional tax may apply if you hire employees or collect sales tax.
Yes, you need a registered agent in Georgia. You can appoint an individual within your LLC to fill this role or outsource the responsibility to a registered agent service provider. If you choose to outsource the service, find the best provider for you by reading our best registered agent services guide.
Yes, Georgia LLCs need to file a yearly report with a $50 filing fee. If they do not, the LLC will be administratively dissolved. Annual reports are due between January 1 and April 1 of each year and you can prefile up to three years in advance.
To voluntarily dissolve a Georgia LLC, file an articles of dissolution with your Georgia corporations division account.