If you operate a business in the Peach State and want to expand, you’re often required to get a Georgia Certificate of Existence, also known as a Certificate of Good Standing. You obtain a Georgia Certificate of Existence from the Secretary of State. This document certifies that your business is a registered company, operating in compliance with all applicable state laws. Before filing, it’s a good idea to double-check that your business is in compliance. This means being up-to-date on your taxes and annual reports, among other things.
Fortunately, ZenBusiness offers a worry-free compliance service, which can easily identify any areas your business may be falling short, offering convenient, inexpensive solutions.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Georgia Certificate of Existence
You don’t need a Certificate of Existence to conduct your daily business or to file taxes. This document only becomes necessary if you want to:
- Register your company to do business in another state.
- Secure a new line of credit or other funding.
- Open a new business bank account or corporate credit card.
- Purchase business insurance.
- Form a contract with the state or another business.
- Sell or transfer some or all of your company.
- Renew certain permits or licenses.
Outside investors may sometimes want to see a Georgia Certificate of Existence before investing. If any of these conditions apply to you, read on.
Certificates of Good Standing are only available to business entities such as corporations and limited liability company’s (LLCs), among others, which are registered under the laws of the State of Georgia. Operators of a sole proprietorship or freelancer workers operating in Georgia wouldn’t be eligible for a Certificate of Existence.
Go over your business records before filing. Are all your tax returns accurate and paid up? Have you filed all your annual reports with the Secretary of State? Are those reports complete and accurate? If your business requires licensure, such as attorneys or nurses employed by the business, are all licenses valid?
If you answer any of these questions “no,” work to ensure compliance before filing. Otherwise, you’ll just waste your business’s time and money. This can sometimes be a time-consuming or intimidating process. Don’t forget you can ask for help from ZenBusiness.
Log on to the Secretary of State’s website
The only way to obtain a Georgia Certificate of Existence currently is online. You must go to the Secretary of State’s portal. Before you log on, clear your browser cache and only have the website open in a single tab. Otherwise, your data may become corrupt or fail to process properly.
To open and access your Certificate of Existence, you’ll need a PDF reader. The website has a link to the official Adobe Reader, or you can use your favorite program instead.
When you’re ready, click continue.
Enter the business name
Type your company’s name into the text box. Spell the name exactly as it appears on your Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization. Misspellings will make locating the correct record difficult. The more complete your business name is, the fewer irrelevant results you’ll have to sift through.
You can also enter your company’s control number. The control number for your business should appear on the documents you received from the state after filing your formation documents. This may give more accurate results faster.
Only enter information into one field or the other. Then, click “Search Business.”
Find your business
The Secretary of State’s website should return a list of businesses. Look through the results to find your company. If you can’t find it, try doing the search again. Once you find your business, click on the name.
This next step is a bit tricky. After you click your business name, a record opens in a separate tab. Review the provided information and ensure it’s accurate. Address, name, and registered agent should all appear as they do on your Articles of Incorporation (or any filed amendments). Your business status, seen in the upper right corner of the screen, should be “Active/Compliance.”
If you see something other than “Active/Compliance,” refer to the second step. Your business is, for whatever reason, not in compliance. You must remedy this problem before proceeding.
If everything seems in order, click back to the search results page. At the bottom of the results page, click “Continue.”
Generate the certificate
You should now be at a separate screen listing the details of your business. Review them again, just to be safe. Click “Generate Certificate.”
Print your certificate
You’re now asked for your email address where a PDF file of your Certificate of Existence will be sent. Ensure it’s an email address you check regularly and have access to.
Once you fill out your certificate, you’re taken to the pay screen. The fee is $10 and can be paid with any major credit or debit card. Enter your payment information and click “Confirm.”
That’s it! Check the email you provided for your Certificate of Existence. You should soon receive a PDF file of your document. If you do not receive your document within the hour, check if any email filters prevented the file from arriving. Look in your spam and trash folders. If you use Gmail, the mail might have been mislabeled. Check Promotions, Social, or any other custom tabs or filters you use. If your document has gone missing, contact the Georgia Secretary of State.
Once you receive your Certificate of Existence, download and review it. Double-check that the information contained on your certificate matches the conditions of the entity requiring this document, and it’s valid for the purpose you need.
Send the certificate
Once you have your certificate, send it to the requesting entity. Fortunately, since your Certificate of Existence is an electronic file, you can create as many copies as you need. Although Certificates of Good Standing don’t have a set expiration date, most requesters have a specific time window they’ll deem the certificate sufficiently current for business verification.
If you’ve never done it before, getting a Georgia Certificate of Existence may seem intimidating. The steps outlined in this article should properly guide you through the process. Don’t forget that if you have any further questions, ZenBusiness is here for you.
Our worry-free services are designed to help first-time business owners navigate the paperwork inherent in owning a company. And, if you’d rather not deal with the above hassles of getting a Georgia Certificate of Existence yourself, you can get one through our Certificate of Good Standing service or our worry free compliance service.
Georgia Certificate of Existence FAQs
How much does a Georgia Certificate of Existence cost?
The filing fee is $10. Since you must file online, prepare to pay with a major credit or debit card.
How long will it take to get my Certificate of Existence?
Your Certificate of Existence should arrive as a PDF in your email within the hour.
Can I expedite a Certificate of Existence request?
Because the Secretary of State’s website returns your paperwork within the hour, there’s no reason to expedite your request.
Is a Certificate of Existence required to stay compliant in Georgia?
Georgia doesn’t require business operators to obtain a Certificate of Existence in order to maintain the business entity. However, you may need a Certificate of Existence to secure other things, such as business insurance or a bank loan, to stay compliant.