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Starting a new business is an exciting — and sometimes daunting — time. You have an idea and are ready to run with it. You’ve done your market research, put together your business plan, and have the financing in place. However, the steps to form that business officially may feel like they are slowing you down. 

The good news for businesses starting up in Georgia is that creating an LLC is fairly simple. In the proper order, taking the right steps will get you through the red tape and ready to hit the ground running.

This guide will take you through all of the steps of how to form an LLC in the Peach State and get your business legally set up. We will explain each step and simplify the process. We’ll also show how can help you along the way. 

Our goal with this guide is to help you create your LLC quickly and efficiently so that you can get started on the real work and grow your business.

Legally forming your LLC in Georgia requires you to register your business with the Secretary of State. We can handle this for you, but in this article we’ll show you how the process works. It’s worth the extra time to make your company official and give your organization the official protections a Georgia LLC registration will provide.

To get started, you need to do a little research, find a name, and fill out some paperwork. Once officially established, some additional steps — like creating an operating agreement — will help solidify your business’s direction. 

Read on as we break it all down into five easy steps. Take them one at a time, and you will be set up to do business in no time.

An infographic that explains how to form an LLC in 5 Steps

Step 1: Name your Georgia LLC

Selecting a name for your LLC is a big decision. You want to pick a name that is unique and descriptive of what your business provides. 

Find the perfect name for your business

Enter a few keywords to get started.

Georgia also requires an LLC name to be distinguishable from other Georgia businesses for legal purposes. For example, the Secretary of State’s office will not accept the following as distinguishable:

  • A name that has “a,” “an,” or “the” as the only difference 
  • If the only difference is an entity type
  • A name where only punctuation makes it different
  • Plural forms or abbreviations of the same word
  • Names that only add a suffix
  • Names using a phonetic spelling as the only difference

Georgia also requires business names to contain a version of “LLC” in the name. Versions the state finds acceptable include:

You may also abbreviate the word “limited” as “ltd.” and the word “company” as “co.”

In addition to looking at what Georgia requires in your LLC name, there are some words it restricts. If you wish to include the words “insurance,” “assurance,” “surety,” “fidelity,” “reinsurance,” “reassurance,” “indemnity,” or any variation of “bank,” “bankruptcy,” “credit union,” “savings and loan,” “trust,” “college,” or “university,” you will need to submit a letter of approval from the appropriate agency. 

You will need to research potential names before selecting one. See our Georgia business name search page for help.

In Georgia, once you have selected the right name, you have the option to reserve your new business name while you follow the next few steps. Name reservations can be made through the Georgia Corporations Division online portal or by submitting the Name Reservation Request form to:

Office of Secretary of State, Corporations Division
Name Reservation Request
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE
Suite 313 West Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334

There is a nonrefundable reservation fee and an additional fee for making a request by paper instead of online. Applications are typically processed within five to seven business days. If you’d rather not deal with this process yourself, we have a business name reservation service that can handle it for you. As part of the service, we also check to see if your desired name is available.

Once a name reservation is approved, a reservation number is provided via email. The reservation is effective for 30 days or until your business is registered. You would then redeem (or list) your reservation number on your business formation application, which we discuss in step three. 

In addition to choosing a name for your business, you may decide to register a trade name — also known as a DBA (“Doing Business As”). A Georgia DBA is where the name the business operates under is different from the registered name. For example, you may register “Joe Smith, LLC” as “The Little Ice Cream Shop.” 

There are a few reasons an LLC might also choose to file a DBA:

  • Your LLC will operate several lines of business, and creating a parent LLC and individual DBAs for the businesses allows you only to file the legal entity once. 
  • You want your LLC to launch a new line of business that is separate.
  • Your company sells similar products to different audiences, and having separate names minimizes confusion.

To register a DBA, you follow three steps:

  • Research a name. Follow this step just as you would before registering your LLC.
  • Register your name. Unlike registering an LLC, you file your application with the county where your business primarily resides. To do this, you will file with the Clerk of Superior Court. Georgia counties are all guided by state laws, so the steps will be similar. You can search the state’s Superior Court listings by county to find your Superior Clerk and get the application. 
  • Publish notice. Once your application is approved, Georgia law requires you to publish notification of your new trade name in a newspaper within the county twice — once a week for two weeks. 

While it is possible for sole proprietorships and some partnerships to register a DBA instead of registering an LLC with the state, it’s important to know that DBAs do not provide the same legal protections as an LLC. 

When you’re coming up with a business name, it’s wise to consider whether you can secure a matching domain name so that your future website can be easily found online. We have a tool to help you do a preliminary domain name search, and our domain name registration service can help you secure the online name that will best serve your company. 

You can also visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to see whether your business name is trademarked federally. If you’d like to register a trademark with the state of Georgia, you can file an Application for Registration Trademark or Service Mark online or by mail at the address listed above. You must also submit a nonrefundable filing fee. Note that the mark must already be in use in the state of Georgia before you can register it.

Step 2: Appoint a registered agent in Georgia

Georgia requires all LLCs to appoint and continuously maintain a registered agent for the business. A registered agent is a person or entity that will receive legal notices and official state correspondence for your business. This can include service of process, documents, or other official state communication on behalf of your Georgia business. Your registered agent must have a street address in Georgia where the agent is located. You are not allowed to use a P.O. box for an address. 

A registered agent in Georgia can be an individual or entity, a domestic or foreign profit corporation, a nonprofit corporation, or LLC. Many companies choose to use an attorney or a professional service company. You may also choose to be your own registered agent, but it may come with some risks, such as having your home address in the public record.

There are several benefits to using an outside registered agent service, and we’re here to help you. Using our registered agent service for Georgia will help ensure your business stays in compliance with the state. It also prevents your business from the potential awkwardness of being served legal notices in front of clients. 

Our experts will also help your business stay organized by accepting your legal documents and storing them on a dashboard you can use to view, download, or print when you need them. Using our registered agent service will give you the peace of mind to focus on growing your business instead of drowning in paperwork.

Step 3: File Georgia Articles of Organization

Now that you have a name and a registered agent, it’s time to prepare and file your Articles of Organization with the state of Georgia. Filing this paperwork and the Transmittal Information Form (a requirement) will legally bring your company into existence. Again, we can handle this for you with our business formation services, but we’ll show you the process here.

There are a few items required for the Articles of Organization:

  • The exact name of your LLC. It might seem simple, but it’s important to list the way you want to see it precisely.
  • The effective date. There are two options to choose from here. You can select the date on which you file the paperwork or at a delayed date. If you choose the delayed date, note that Georgia requires the date to be within 90 days of filing.
  • Signature. The Articles of Organization must be signed before submitting it. Valid signers can be either an organizer, member, manager, or attorney for your business.

Once this paperwork is complete, the Articles of Organization and Transmittal Information Form can be filed online or as paper documents. There’s a filing fee with an additional service fee if filing by paper. If your Articles of Organization are approved, the Secretary of State’s office will send your business a Certificate of Organization. Typically, this takes five to seven business days for online filings and up to 15 days for paper filings. 

If the state finds your filing incomplete, it will return the application to you with a notice of what you need to fix. If you correct the issue and return the application within 30 days, you can still use the initial date you submitted as your business formation date.

If you have us handle filing your Articles of Organization, once the state approves your LLC, your paperwork will be available from your ZenBusiness dashboard, where you can keep it and other important paperwork digitally organized.

Once you get your physical paperwork back from the state approving your new LLC, you’ll want to keep it in a safe location along with your other important documents, such as your operating agreement, member certificates, contracts, compliance checklists, transfer ledger, etc. We offer a customized business kit to help you keep these important documents organized and looking professional.

By now you’re realizing how often you’ll need to supply an address for your new business. That can be unsettling for some business owners, especially those running their business from home. In instances where you’re not required to give the registered agent address or official principal address for your business, a virtual business address can come in handy. 

With our virtual business address service, we supply you with a physical street address where you can have your mail sent without divulging your real address to more people than necessary.

Step 4: Create an operating agreement

Georgia does not require you to file an operating agreement for your LLC, but that does not mean you should skip this step. An operating agreement in Georgia is always advisable — even for sole proprietor LLCs — because it documents your organization’s financial and functional decision-making. Having an operating agreement will:

  • Clear the air. Disagreements between partners are inevitable when it comes to running a business. When you and your partners need to settle one, having your business arrangements in writing gives you something to refer to. It also gives you something to refer to other than an oral agreement that different participants might remember differently. 
  • Protect your business agreements in the eyes of the state. Your business is unique, but if you don’t have an operating agreement, your business will be subject to Georgia state law, which is designed to deal with every LLC that might be formed in the state. This might not be the best for your business.

Now that you know why you need an operating agreement, what do you need to include in it? It can contain anything you think needs to be documented, but at a minimum, you may want to cover:

  • Member voting rights, responsibilities, and powers
  • Member percentage of ownership and profits
  • Meetings
  • Buyout and buy-sell rules (make sure also to include procedures if a member passes away)

If you’re unsure as to how to start creating an operating agreement for your Georgia LLC, we offer a customizable template to help get you started.

Step 5: Apply for an EIN

Once your business is registered with Georgia, you may want to register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to receive your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Not every business entity is required to have an EIN. Sole proprietorships, for example, do not. However, there are several reasons to register for your EIN number regardless of your legal obligation: 

  • Business banking accounts. Most banks will require an EIN before you are allowed to open a business account.
  • Hiring. If you plan to hire employees, your EIN is necessary to track federal — and often state — taxes.
  • Keep your liability limited. Having an EIN helps you keep your business and personal finances separate.
  • Prevent fraud. When you work with vendors, you must provide an EIN or a Social Security number. Using the business’s EIN allows you to protect your personal information and shelter you from potential identity theft. 

You can get your Georgia business’s EIN through the IRS website, by mail, or by fax, but if you’re unfond of dealing with that particular government agency, we can get it for you. Our EIN service is quick and eliminates the hassle.

Once you’ve secured an EIN, you’ll be able to open a business bank account. Having separate accounts for your business and your personal banking is critical for sorting out your finances at tax time and helps you avoid commingling funds. Commingling funds can not only make your taxes more difficult, but it could also be used against you if someone takes you to court to challenge whether you and your LLC are truly separate entities.

We have partnered with LendingClub to offer a discounted bank account for your new business. This allows for unlimited transactions, online banking, a debit card, and more. When you want to authorize others in your business to use the account, we offer a banking resolution template to simplify the process.

For further help managing your new business’s finances, try the ZenBusiness Money App. It can help you create invoices, receive payments, transfer money, and manage clients all in one place. 

How much does it cost to start an LLC in Georgia?

The cost to file your Articles of Organization in Georgia is $100, plus a $10 service fee if you file by paper instead of online. If you reserve your business name in advance of filing, you’ll pay an additional (plus for filing by paper instead of online). In total, you can expect to pay between $100 and $145 when starting an LLC in Georgia. 

Additionally, Georgia requires an annual registration from each of its businesses. Each annual registration must contain:

  • Name of the LLC or assigned control number
  • Name of the person filing the registration
  • Current email
  • Name and address of the registered agent
  • Mailing address for the principal (or main) office

The report must be filed between Jan. 1 and April 1 of each calendar year beginning the year after the business is registered. The filing fee is $50. Not filing the annual registration will subject your business to fines and, ultimately, your company’s dissolution. 

Of course, you can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a partner who has your back. Someone to help with the paperwork, your Operating Agreement, and track annual compliance can be invaluable.

We have business formation packages to help you. We can complete and file your formation paperwork, provide registered agent services, and provide Operating Agreement templates for your business. 

More robust packages will take on more of the paperwork that takes time away from your real goal — growing your business. Talk with one of our experts today to get started.

What are the benefits of an LLC in Georgia?

Many people start LLCs for a good reason. The legal structure it provides gives individual members protection from liability and taxes and is relatively inexpensive and straightforward.  

Register LLC in Georgia and benefit from:

  • Like a corporation, the business operations can continue even in the event of a member’s death. Ownership interests can be transferred from one member to another. 
  • An LLC owner or member risks only what they invested in the business and their remaining personal assets are not at risk.
  • Earnings will be distributed among the partners and taxed at their personal tax rates.

How is an LLC taxed in Georgia?

Taxes can be a business owner’s biggest headache. One of the benefits of an LLC is that you avoid paying income tax as a business. Earnings are distributed to the owners or members, and they pay taxes on their personal income. 

Federal taxes will be collected by the IRS and typically need to be paid quarterly. You can read more about federal taxes here. 

Georgia follows the federal approach and classifies LLCs as a sole proprietorship (for single-member LLCs) or a partnership (for multiple-member LLCs) for income tax and will not tax net worth unless the business has selected to be treated as a corporation. To get started with state taxes, you will need a State Tax Identification Number (STIN).

Income tax may not be the only tax your LLC will be required to pay, though. If you plan to sell goods or services, you will need to pay sales and use taxes (4% rate).

Some additional taxes to be aware of in Georgia include:

  • Film tax
  • Motor fuel tax
  • Alcohol and tobacco tax
  • State hotel-motel fee

    If you plan to hire employees, you will also need to be aware of additional taxes:

    • Withholding taxes. These are taxes withheld from your employee’s wages to pay to the state. You withhold taxes from wages, pension and annuity payments, and others.
    • Unemployment taxes. In Georgia, employers pay the whole cost of unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment insurance is temporary income for workers who find themselves, without it being their fault, unemployed. Employers pay quarterly at a rate calculated for their business.
    • Workers’ compensation insurance. If your business regularly employs three or more people (including part-time employees), you will need to pay workers’ compensation insurance. You can learn more about workers’ compensation by visiting the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.

    Georgia LLC FAQs

    • How much does it cost to start an LLC in Georgia?

      The state fees for forming a Georgia LLC range from $100 to $145, depending on factors such as your method of filing and whether you choose to reserve your business name. Note that fees change over time, so you should check the Georgia Secretary of State website for the most recent fee schedule.

    • What are the benefits of an LLC in Georgia?

      Many people start LLCs for a good reason. The legal structure it provides gives individual members protection from liability and taxes and is relatively inexpensive and straightforward.

      Georgia LLCs also benefit from:

      • Like a corporation, the business operations can continue even in the event of a member’s death. Ownership interests can be transferred from one member to another.
      • An LLC member (owner) risks only what they invested in the business and their remaining personal assets are not usually at risk.
      • Earnings will be distributed among the members and taxed at their personal tax rates without first being taxed at the business level.
    • How is an LLC taxed in Georgia?

      Taxes can be a business owner’s biggest headache. One of the benefits of an LLC is that you avoid paying federal income tax as a business. Earnings are distributed to the members, and they pay taxes on their personal income.

      Federal taxes will be collected by the IRS and typically need to be paid quarterly. You can read more about federal taxes here.

      Georgia follows the federal approach and classifies LLCs as a sole proprietorship (for single-member LLCs) or a partnership (for multiple-member LLCs) for income tax and will not tax the business itself on profits unless the business has selected to be treated as a corporation. To get started with state taxes, you will need a State Tax Identification Number (STIN).

      Income tax may not be the only tax your LLC will be required to pay, though. If you plan to sell goods or services, you will need to pay sales and use taxes (4% rate).

      Some additional taxes to be aware of in Georgia include:

      • Film tax
      • Motor fuel tax
      • Alcohol and tobacco tax
      • State hotel-motel fee

      If you plan to hire employees, you will also need to be aware of additional taxes:

      • Withholding taxes. These are taxes withheld from your employee’s wages to pay to the state. You withhold taxes from wages, pension and annuity payments, and others.
      • Unemployment taxes. In Georgia, employers pay the whole cost of unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment insurance is temporary income for workers who find themselves, without it being their fault, unemployed. Employers pay quarterly at a rate calculated for their business.
      • Workers’ compensation insurance. If your business regularly employs three or more people (including part-time employees), you will need to pay workers’ compensation insurance. You can learn more about workers’ compensation by visiting the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
    • What is the processing time to form my Georgia LLC?

      The time depends on the way you file your paperwork. If you file your Articles of Organization online, it takes five to seven business days for the state to process. If you file with paper copies, it can take up to 15 days. Additionally, if you opt to reserve your business name, that application will take five to seven business days.

      Georgia also has options for expediting your filing for an additional fee. If you’re in a hurry to form your LLC and don’t want to jump through the state’s expedited filing processes, ZenBusiness can handle it for you with our faster filing speeds service.

    • Do I need to file an operating agreement with the state of Georgia?

      Georgia does not require an LLC to file an operating agreement. However, as discussed above, an operating agreement is still an important document to have, as it provides additional protection for you and your business.

    • What tax structure should I choose for my Georgia LLC?

      One of the benefits of setting your business up as an LLC is avoiding “double taxation,” meaning the business itself will not pay federal income tax. Instead, the members or owners pay personal taxes on their earnings. Because of this, most LLC owners will choose to follow traditional LLC structures.

      Some businesses choose to designate a corporate structure instead, usually because the business is a high-income earner. To do this, you will need to make the designation at the federal level, and then the state follows its approach. If you set your LLC up to be taxed under a corporate structure, the business pays corporate taxes, and after earnings are distributed, the members will also pay through their personal taxes.

    • Does Georgia allow a Series LLC?

      The state of Georgia does not, at this time, allow the formation of a Series LLC. Series LLCs are a relatively new concept where an umbrella LLC is formed with separate LLC “cells” under it. The law may change, so check back with Georgia from time to time if this is a concept that interests you.

    • Which licenses are required for an LLC in Georgia?

      While Georgia does not require a blanket business license, it does require licensing for many individual professions and businesses. You can visit the Secretary of State’s licensing page to search for Georgia licensing requirements, fill out a license application if needed, track your status, and more.

      Additionally, some local municipalities may require licensing. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the requirements in the location your business calls home. Other licenses can be federal or industry-specific. You’ll have to research which licenses and permits your business needs or hire a service to do this for you, such as our business license report.

    • How do I dissolve my Georgia LLC?

      If the time comes to dissolve your business, you must file a Certificate of Termination with the Secretary of State. The first step is to check and make sure your business is currently up to date in its registration. Once it is, the certificate can be submitted with no filing fee. Once the application is submitted, it typically takes two to eight business days to be processed. The termination date will be the date the application is received.

      Your Certificate of Termination must:

      • Include the name of the LLC.
      • State that known debts, liabilities, and obligations have been taken care of or provisions have been made.
      • State that no legal actions are pending against the LLC or that provisions have been made if there are.
    • How do I change ownership of an LLC in Georgia?

      While an LLC in Georgia does need to keep a current list of its officers with the state, which it does by filing an annual registration, it does not maintain a list of owners. The business itself maintains that list.

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