How to Start a Georgia LLC: Step by Step

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Home to the world’s busiest airport (making international trade a breeze), great universities, and a diverse and thriving culture, if you want to start an LLC, Georgia is a fantastic place! As if that’s not enough, Georgia is quickly becoming a popular hub for tech startups and innovators.

Many large corporations such as Coca-Cola, already call Georgia home, and you’ll want to as well after reading this how to blog post and learning how to start a Georgia LLC.

Let’s dive in!

Form Your LLC 

To understand how to start a business in GA, you need to understand entity formation.  Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and Corporations are the most popular business types. We’ll focus on forming an LLC in this post, but it’s important to know what a corporation is as well.

Business formation is important because it sets your small business apart as a professional company and not just a hobby.

Corporation

A corporation is a legal entity that is completely separate from those who own and operate it. A corporation’s debts and taxes are separate from its owners, thereby offering the greatest personal liability protection of all business structures. The two most common types of corporations are C and S corporations.

Limited Liability Company

LLCs are the most popular business structure, blending the aspects of corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships into a simple and flexible business entity. Like corporations, LLC formation protects the owner’s personal assets and also shields them from personal liability similar to a corporation. They also possess the “pass-through” tax benefits of a partnership.

There are two types of LLCs. LLC run by just own person (single-member LLC) and LLCs run by multiple people (multi-member LLCs)

Starting Georgia LLC can be difficult and confusing, especially as a first time business owner. But with a company like Inc Authority in your corner, you’ll not only have your LLC formed for you, but you’ll also get expert guidance beyond business formation, so you never have to wonder or worry about what to do next!

What About DBAs?

DBAs (which stands for “doing business as”) grant business owners the ability to conduct business under an assumed name. A DBA (or fictitious business name) is an authorization by the state for your business to operate under an assumed name. 

For sole proprietors and owners of LLCs, DBAs offer an affordable way to gain legal recognition for the secondary name of your choice.

  • Sole proprietors: For sole proprietors starting a new business, DBAs are a budget-conscious way to gain legal status and work under a creative company name.
  • LLC owners: If the name on your LLC paperwork and your business name differ, DBAs offer the opportunity to operate as an LLC under a different legal name.

A DBA provides privileges like the ability to open a bank account, create enforceable contracts and establish federal employer tax status (getting an EIN). It’s possible to file multiple DBAs, allowing a single LLC to operate different businesses under the same legal umbrella. If you’re starting a business or expanding your LLC in Georgia, get the proper legal recognition early on to start off on the right legal footing. 

Our entity-setup service is 100% free.
We’ll waive our service charges, labor costs, and overhead. You only pay the state fees and postage, which are mandatory regardless of who incorporates for you. Start now for free!

Georgia State Filing Fee

The cost to form a Georgia limited liability company (LLC) is $50 per member (minimum of $300 and a maximum of $3,000). You pay this LLC filing fee to the Georgia Secretary of State alongside your LLC’s Articles of Organization.

You also might want to file what most states call a Certificate of Good Standing. This certificate is used to say that a company is authorized and incorporated to conduct business in a certain state. It demonstrates two important things:

  1. The company has been in existence from the time of incorporation; and
  2. That no action is currently being undertaken in order to remove the company from the register.

You can order by fax, mail, email, phone, in person, or online, but we recommend online.

Create a Business Name

Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your business entity. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Georgia naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.

The following are the Georgia LLC naming guidelines:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company,” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • Your name include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
  • Your name must be distinguishable from any other Georgia limited liability company, limited liability partnership, limited partnership, or corporation.

For a complete list of naming rules in Georgia, you can read the Georgia naming guidelines.

Using an Assumed Name

You don’t have to use your LLC’s official legal name registered in your Articles of Organization when you do business out in the real world. Instead, you can use an assumed name, also called a fictitious business name, “DBA” (short for doing business as), or trade name.

To do so in Georgia, you must register your assumed name with the Georgia Secretary of State. You register by filing an Application for Registration of Assumed Name (ss-4230). You may register online or by postal mail.

Registering a Business in GA

Let’s take a look at how to register a business in GA, including payables such as the cost, government fees, and so on.

File an Articles of Organization

To register your LLC, Georgia requires you to file Form CD 030, your Georgia Articles of Organization (or Certificate of Organization) with the Georgia Corporations Division. You can apply online or by mail. The articles must include:

  • The LLC’s name
  • A name consent if the LLC’s name is similar to an existing name in GA
  • An additional designation for the LLC’s name–applicable to certain types of LLCs, such as professional LLCs, series LLC, banks, and others
  • The name and address of the LLC’s registered agent
  • The end month of the LLC’s fiscal year—usually December
  • The effective date of the articles, if not effective upon filing
  • Whether the LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed
  • The number of LLC members on the date of filing
  • The LLC’s duration, if not perpetual
  • The address of the LLC’s principal office
  • Say if LLC is a non-profit LLC, professional LLC, or series LLC
  • Check box if LLC is an obligated member entity–members will be personally liable for LLC’s debts (rare)
  • Check box if LLC is prohibited from doing business in GA, and
  • The signature of a member, organizer, or other authorized person.

The articles may be filed online or by postal mail. The Georgia filing fee is $100. Thankfully, this is not an annual registration fee. You only pay it once.

Transmittal Information Form must also be filed with the Georgia Corporations Division (a division of the Georgia Secretary of State). The Transmittal form is required by law to legally set up your business.

Georgia LLC Operating Agreement

An LLC operating agreement is not required in GA, but it is highly advisable. This is an internal document that establishes how your LLC will be run. It sets out the rights and responsibilities of the members and managers, including how the LLC will be managed. It can also help preserve your limited liability by showing that your LLC is truly a separate business entity. In the absence of an operating agreement, state LLC law will govern how your LLC operates.

Issues that should be defined by your LLC Operating Agreement include:

  • Member powers
  • Rules for meetings
  • Members’ voting rights
  • How your LLC will be managed
  • Guidelines for losses and profits
  • Buyout provisions

Once the operating agreement has been adopted, it will provide protection for the members of your LLC. When the members of your LLC have agreed on the terms of your operating agreement and have signed the document, you should keep the agreement in a secure location.

Inc Authority can remind you to do or do for you if you choose to have us handle the paperwork.

Georgia State Filing Fee:$100
Georgia State Filing Time:12 – 15 business days
Transmittal Information Form$100 (online) – $110 (mail)

Mail to:

Corporations Division 2
Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
SE, Suite 313 West Tower
Atlanta , GA 30334

Our entity-setup service is 100% free.
We’ll waive our service charges, labor costs, and overhead. You only pay the state fees and postage, which are mandatory regardless of who incorporates for you. Start now for free!

Get Your Employer Identification Number or EIN

The next step you’ll want to tackle is getting your EIN or Tax ID number (TIN). This number is like your business’s social security number, separating you from your business. This protects you from fraud and identity theft.

Additionally, an EIN is required by your bank to open a Business Checking Account, file tax returns, obtain payroll services and credit cards, and pay for any LLC cost that Georgia laws require.

To apply for your EIN, you’ll need to complete form SS-4, which can be found on the IRS website.

Assign a Registered Agent for your LLC in Georgia

There are an estimated 38 million home-based businesses in the U.S., so if you’re thinking about starting a business in your home, you’re definitely not alone.

But did you know that all businesses are required by law to have an address where they can accept service of legal documents (like a service of process) from the state or government agencies during normal business days and hours? Without an office, that would be your street address or P.O. box.

As you can imagine, that’s not always possible (or advisable) with a home-based or foreign-filed business. That’s where a registered agent comes in.

A registered agent is a responsible third-party in the same state as your business who receives official government notifications (usually tax forms and notice of lawsuits) on behalf of your LLC in GA.

Even if you aren’t planning on starting a home-based business or foreign LLC, having a registered agent is still advisable because it will:

  • Limit third party access to your personal information
  • Ensure that you never miss important documents
  • Protect the privacy of owners
  • Eliminate junk mail
  • Ensure you’re never served with legal papers in front of your clients
  • And more!

Setting up a Registered Agent Service

Every Georgia LLC must have an agent for service of process in the state. Registered Agents agree to accept legal papers on the LLC’s behalf if it is sued. The registered agent may be a GA resident or a business entity authorized to do business in GA. The registered agent must have a physical street address in GA.

Learn more about our registered agent services here.

Open a Business Bank Account

To keep your personal and business expenses separate and to stay in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you need to open a business bank account for your LLC or corporation.

Setting up a separate bank account for your company makes it easier to for you do business, manage a cash balance, complete, and file your income tax returns with the Georgia Department of Revenue, deduct business expenses for taxes, conduct proper accounting, and execute employee payroll. Bank accounts also provide better protection in the event of legal action.

Additionally, business bank accounts create historical relevance through the relationship established with the bank, and can create unrestricted access to long-term funding options, business credit cards, and other financial solutions

At Inc Authority, we make getting a business bank account easy. How so? Well, when you form your business with us, you gain access to a free Bank of America business checking account. So, don’t wait! Form your LLC in GA today!

Tax and Regulatory Requirements

Additional tax and regulatory requirements may apply to your Georgia LLC. These may include:

EIN: If your LLC has more than one member, it must obtain its own IRS Employee Identification Number (EIN), even if it has no employees. If you form a one-member LLC, you still need to obtain an EIN or elect to have it taxed as a corporation instead of a sole proprietorship (disregarded entity). You may obtain an EIN by completing an online EIN application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.

Business Licenses: Most Georgia businesses are required by law to have business licenses, which are issued by the local county clerk. The state may also require you to obtain a city business license as well. Check with the county and city clerks for the location of the LLC’s primary place of business. For state license information, check…

Department of Revenue: In some cases, for example if you will be selling goods and collecting sales tax, you will need to register with the Georgia Department of Revenue. GA also imposes a franchise tax and an excise tax on most LLCs. You can register online or complete a paper form (Application for Registration).

Annual Report

The state of Georgia requires every LLC to update its information EACH year. You can file the Annual Report online at the Georgia Secretary of State’s website for $50.

Annual reports are due on or before the first day of the fourth month following the LLC’s fiscal year closing. For example, if your LLC’s fiscal year closes on June 30, your annual report is due by October 1. If your fiscal year is the calendar year, the report is due by April 1. You can file this report online or by postal mail.

Start Your Georgia LLC

Forming a professional LLC or corporation in Georgia is an exciting opportunity, but like starting any business it can be overwhelming. Why not let the business experts at Inc Authority do all the heavy lifting for you?

We’ll form your LLC or corporation, run a business name check, get your EIN, and make sure you have all the licenses and permits needed to run your business. We can also advise you on the things you need to pay, such as LLC cost, GA state fees, and other payables.

Not to mention we offer a ton of free management and report tools to help make running your business as simple as possible. Please contact Inc Authority or visit our website today to get started!

Start now for free

Incorporating is the most powerful thing you can do to legitimize your business. And at IncAuthority.com, our setup LLC services are 100% free. Always. So, don’t wait. Form your free LLC today and enjoy the protection due to you and your business under the law.

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