This guide on how to start an LLC in Georgia is going to make sure you’re ready to go and have your Georgia LLC be ready to rock on day 1. You can go through this entire guide or have Northwest Registered Agent help you do all this. They are the top LLC service we recommend and will help you with looking up your business name, operating agreement, filing your articles of organization and getting an EIN.
If you want to do it all on your own – keep reading on or just go there and they will help you get setup without the hassle.
Before we get started, I always like to talk about what the amazing state of Georgia is known for and did you know it’s peanuts and pecans? I would have thought it was oranges but no – that’s our friends in Florida.
So if you’re starting an orange production business you should do that in Florida but if you are opening a peanut stand or making the delicious pecan nut butter – bring it on. You’re in the right state of our union to succeed with Pecan Butter.
Before we jump into the fun stuff around whether you’re setting up a Limited Liability Company, Sole Proprietorship or just need help figuring out what type of business structure you’ll need – we need to talk about a few of the services to consider after you setup your Georgia LLC.
Once you get your Federal Employer Identification Number, you’ll need to setup a business bank account, consider some type of business insurance (depending on the type of business) and if you have a retail business – you’ll need to think about the business hours you’re setup for.
One other piece of advice to consider having business expense software that can track your business income along with making sure your personal assets and company bank account are not one in the same thing.
All right – enough of that – let’s get to it.
Name Your Georgia LLC
The name of your LLC should follow these simple rules
- Must contain the phrase “Limited Liability Company” or the abbreviation “LLC.”
- Cannot contain words that would be misleading to the public such as “FBI,” “Treasury,” or “Secret Service.”
- Cannot be the same as any other company name already on file with the Georgia Secretary of State.
- May not contain profanity or obscene words.
To check and see if your LLC business name is available, you can do a Business Name Search on the Georgia Secretary of State website. You can do that from this page: https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/BusinessSearch
This is the first step but I’d also argue that before you do this you’d also want to check with GoDaddy to determine if your business name has a website domain available. You’re going to file online for just about everything so as you consider other Georgia Businesses, I’d highly recommend making sure your business operates with the online ‘.com’ too.
So go get your business name checked out and let’s get moving onto the next step here.
Choose your registered agent
In order to form an LLC in Georgia, you must appoint a Registered Agent.
A Registered Agent is someone who agrees to receive legal papers on behalf of your LLC if it’s sued. The agent must have a physical address (no P.O. Boxes) in Georgia and be available during normal business hours.
You can appoint anyone you want as your LLC’s Registered Agent, including yourself. However, many business owners prefer to appoint a professional service because it provides additional privacy and protection.
If you want to serve as your own Registered Agent, here’s what you need to do:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Have a physical street address in Georgia (no P.O. boxes).
- Be available during normal business hours to receive legal papers if your LLC is sued.
There are law firms that act as a registered agent service that you can hire to be your registered agent but you need to locate them. I don’t have a directory of the law firms state by state that do this but I know they exist because that’s what I did in Oregon.
If you’re going to communicating with the Georgia Corporations Division, you’re going to need to have your Georgia LLC setup the right way and that’s going to require that you have a registered agent.
If you’re setting up a Foreign LLC there may be different rules for the LLC members but as you figure out which registered agent service makes the most sense for your business – make sure you’re getting the right registered agent service here.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to the next step in forming your Georgia LLC.
Prepare and File Articles of Organization
To form your LLC in Georgia, you must file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. Whether you’re setting up a Georgia Limited Liability Company and have multiple LLC owners – you’re going to need to file this. From what I can tell, this is Georgia law so follow this and make sure your Georgia Articles of Organization are submitted and filed for your business entity correctly.
The Articles of Organization is a simple, one-page document that provides basic information about your LLC, including its name and address, the names and addresses of its organizers, and the name and address of its Registered Agent.
You can find the Articles of Organization form (called the “Domestic Limited Liability Company Certificate of Formation”) on the Georgia Secretary of State website.
Here’s where you can get all the official docs that you need: https://georgia.gov/register-llc
The filing fee for the Articles of Organization is $100, and it must be paid by check or money order made payable to the “Secretary of State.”
Once you have your Articles of Organization completed, you can mail it to the following address:
Georgia Secretary of State
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Suite 315 West Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334
You can also hand-deliver your Articles of Organization to the Corporations Division office, or you can submit it online through the Georgia Secretary of State website.
If you file by mail, you should receive a filing confirmation within a few weeks. If you file online, you will receive an email confirmation immediately.
Once your Articles of Organization have been filed and accepted, your LLC is officially formed!
Now that you know how to start an LLC in Georgia, let’s move on to the next step.
Create an operating agreement
An Operating Agreement is not required in Georgia, but it’s a good idea to have one.
The Operating Agreement is an internal document that outlines the ownership and operating procedures of your LLC. It usually includes information such as:
the names and addresses of the members (and their percentage of ownership in the LLC)
the duties and responsibilities of the members and managers
how decisions will be made
what will happen if a member leaves the LLC
The Operating Agreement is not filed with the state, but it’s important to have one because it can help prevent disagreements among the members down the road.
If you’d like help creating an Operating Agreement, this is another place that Northwest Registered Agent can help you. They have a team that can help setup operating agreements that can include your business address and are one of the best solutions if you want help with a Georgia LLC operating agreement.
Get an EIN
The next step is to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This is a nine-digit number that is used to identify your business for tax purposes.
You can apply for an EIN online, by fax, or by mail.
If you apply online, you will receive your EIN immediately. If you apply by fax or mail, it will take about four weeks to receive your EIN.
There is no fee to apply for an EIN and the Internal Revenue Service will thank you for getting one setup.
Now that you have your EIN, you’re ready to open a business bank account or credit union and start operating your LLC!
Open A Business Bank Account
There are so many options when you’re looking for a business bank account. We recommend using Novo.co and they are helping small business owners make sure they have the right bank account setup. They make the process to get a business bank account setup so easy and it’s something that I’ve found to be incredibly easy for the business owner out there that just wants to move quickly.
File for a Business Credit Card
Once you have your business bank account setup, make sure you get a business credit card so that you can start building business credit. This will help you down the road when you’re looking for things like loans and lines of credit.
Get Small Business Insurance
I recommend that you checkout commercialinsurance.net to get a quote for your new business. You’re going to need this and if you’re in need of workers compensation insurance or just worried about your business bank accounts that would get emptied if there is ever an issue – go check it out.
It does depend on your business and what you’re doing but it’s important as your business grows to make sure you’re covered.
Get a Business License
Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you may need to apply for licenses or permits from the state, county, or city.
For example, if you’re starting a food-related business, you will need to obtain a food permit from the county health department.
If you’re starting a daycare, you will need to obtain a license from the state.
The best way to find out if you need any licenses or permits is to contact your county or city clerk’s office. They will be able to tell you what you need.
There are a lot of business licenses and permits, but these are some of the most common:
- Business license – A general business license is required in most states. You can usually obtain a general business license from your city or county clerk’s office.
- Sales tax permit – If you’re going to be selling products or services, you will need to obtain a sales tax permit. This will allow you to collect sales tax from your customers and remit it to the state.
Check with the Georgia Corporations Division and determine if you’re going need to setup a business license for your Georgia LLC.
File an Annual Report
All LLCs in Georgia are required to file an annual report with the state. The report is due on April 1st and must be filed with the Georgia Corporations Division.
The annual report includes information such as the names and addresses of the LLC’s members and managers, the registered agent’s name and address, and the LLC’s principal place of business.
The report must be signed by a member or manager of the LLC.
The filing fee for the annual report is $50.
Pay Annual Taxes
The state of Georgia does not have an annual tax for LLCs. However, you will still be required to pay federal income taxes and self-employment taxes.
The Georgia Sales Tax rate is 4% and you’ll need to collect it whether you’re a single member LLC, individual or business entity. It’s important to get business advice delivered straight for your Georgia LLC so make it happen.