Did you know that 18 Fortune 500 and 32 Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered in Georgia?
AFLAC, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, and UPS call Georgia home thanks to quality talent, tax incentives, and robust infrastructures like the world’s most traveled airport (Atlanta) and the fastest-growing seaport in the nation (Savannah).
Starting your limited liability company (LLC) in Georgia makes perfect sense. And if you’re already exploring the company formation process, you’re also wondering which costs you’ll incur.
We’ve got you covered on state filing fees, business license costs, and professional service expenses, among other things.
It’s also a flexible option for growth-oriented businesses as the operational liability is lower than c-corporations.
1) Formation cost: $100 to $225
To start the company formation process, you’ll need to file your Articles of Organization with the Georgia Secretary of State.
It’s the official legal document that forms your company and allows it to do business there when approved.
Keep in mind that there are two different types of LLCs:
- Domestic LLCs — for companies that are headquartered in Georgia. Cost: $100 filing fee.
- Foreign LLCs — for businesses headquartered in another state but willing to do business in Georgia. Cost: $225 filing fee.
Payments are accepted by credit cards for online submissions and checks, money orders for paper-based submissions.
If you want to file your application by mail or in person at the Georgia Corporations Division office in Atlanta, you can. But it comes with an additional $10 fee. Plus, you’ll need to complete a transmittal form.
Expedited service (optional)
If you’re in a rush and need your LLC formation application looked at ASAP, Georgia offers the following expedited processing:
- Two business days: $100
- Same business day for submissions before noon: $250
- 1 hour: $1,000
The above fees are paid on top of other state filing fees.
2) Registered Agent: $49 and up
You’ll need to appoint your registered agent when you file your Articles of Organization. Soundly, there’s no separate fee for designation.
But there’s a small fee involved if you need to make changes to your registered agent details later on:
- Resignation of registered agent — $0 for online filing, $10 for paper filing.
- Registered agent’s change of address — $5 per entity with a $20 minimum fee (+$10 for paper filing).
Your registered agent is responsible for receiving service of process and other essential documents for your small business. You can be your registered agent, or you may want to hire a professional service.
Why choose a professional service as your registered agent?
Many single-member LLCs start in the business owner’s home, which becomes the company’s principal business address. And that erodes your personal privacy.
But more importantly, when you’re your own registered agent, that means you’ll need to be present at your home during regular business hours to receive crucial legal or corporate correspondence.
The situation can make it impossible to take vacations and can become a significant inconvenience.
And foreign LLCs may have little choice since Georgia requires all registered agents to have a physical street address in the state (P.O. boxes aren’t allowed). Thus, professional registered agent services are likely required for most foreign LLCs who lack a local presence.
Regardless of whether need or choice drives you to use a professional, it will cost a few hundred dollars a year, depending on the service package you select.
3) Trade name registration $150 (optional)
In Georgia, these nicknames or aliases are known as trade names, but they are also called assumed or doing business as (DBA) names.
Trade names make sense for businesses with generic business names like “Georgia Lovely Brands, LLC” that sells designer handbags. In that case, it may want to use the trade name “Hotlanta Handbags.”
And if your business offers multiple products, using trade names may help you with marketing.
For example, suppose your LLC’s legal name is Southeast Coastal Properties and has short-term and long-term rental properties.
You may want to use Southeast Vacation Rentals and Southeast Family Home Rentals to distinguish between the two.
In Georgia, trade names aren’t registered with the Secretary of State. Instead, they’re registered locally with the county’s Clerk of the Superior Court.
- For domestic LLCs — Register in the county where the business is headquartered.
- For foreign LLCs — Register in the county where most of your business is conducted.
Each county has its filing fees, so costs vary but are usually between $150 and $200.
For example, in Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, trade name registration is $171.
4) Name reservation: $25 (optional)
Suppose you’ve come up with the perfect name for your new business venture but still need to iron out some details before you’re ready to file your Georgia Articles of Organization. In that case, you can reserve the business name for 30 days with the Secretary of State.
The name reservation fee is $25.
And if you need additional time, you can renew the reservation for another 30 days by paying another $25 fee.
5) Certified document copies: costs vary
You need certified documents when applying for a bank loan or obtaining insurance. And unfortunately, they aren’t free. Costs of certified copies of documents in Georgia are:
- Less than 25 pages — $10
- More than 25 pages — $10 + $0.10 per additional page
6) Business permits and licenses
Georgia is one of several states that doesn’t require businesses to have general business licenses to operate for most locations, except for Atlanta.
In Atlanta, all local businesses must obtain a general business license from the city authorities to operate out of this city.
The costs include:
- $75 non-refundable processing fee
- Per employee fees
- Any extra payments for necessary zoning permits or occupational licenses
If you’re operating from another location in Georgia, you may not need a general business license (though it’s always worth re-checking with a local city authority!).
However, Georgia law may require you to have a specialty (occupational) license depending on your industry.
Fees vary. For example, if you operate a distillery, you’ll need a distiller’s license that costs $1,000.
7) Taxes that LLCs need to pay in Georgia
Although all LLCs will have to deal with federal taxes, you need to know what state taxes your Georgia LLC will pay. It largely depends on your type of business and your location.
We’ll discuss the most notable state taxes.
Sales tax rates
If you sell taxable goods or services, you’ll need to collect sales tax from your customers.
The state sales tax rate is 4%, and local jurisdictions can add their rates on top of this.
For example, Fulton County (excluding Atlanta city limits) has a 7.75% sales tax rate while Atlanta’s rate is 8.9%.
When the time comes to hire employees, there are specific state employment taxes you’ll need to pay, such as unemployment insurance tax.
Most new employers pay a 2.7% tax rate on the first $9,500 of each employee’s pay each year. Your tax rate can be adjusted each year based on your experience using the unemployment system.
Your LLC will likely not have to pay state corporate income taxes, sometimes called franchise taxes, as long as you don’t file taxes as a c-corporation.
8) Annual Fee: $50
Yes, Georgia requires LLCs to file annual registration reports each year between January 1 and April 1. Don’t forget to do this because failing to file an annual report can cause your company to be dissolved and lose the right to do business in the state.
Annual reports keep company contact information and registered agent details updated and cost $50 if filed online and $60 if filed by paper.
Conclusion: How much does an LLC cost in Georgia?
The initial cost to form your LLC in Georgia is $100 to file your Articles of Organization. Your annual report costs $50, and you can file up to three years at once to save some money.
A few other fees you may encounter in your first year include:
- Trade name registration —$150-$200
- Name reservation — $25
- Registered agent professional service — $100-$200
- Specialty permits/licenses — $25-$1,000
Likewise, your annual bill will go up if you opt to use a professional registered agent service or an LLC formation service.