Georgia can be a good state for starting an LLC.
From its relatively low formation fees and generally pleasant weather to its talent pipeline fed from well-regarded public universities, the Peach State has a lot to offer.
And starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Georgia can be an excellent choice for those looking to establish a business structure that can limit their personal risk.
In this guide, we’ll examine the steps you’ll need to take in order to register an LLC in Georgia.
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6 Steps to start an LLC in Georgia
- Step 1: Start by choosing a business name for your LLC
- Step 2: Appoint a registered agent
- Step 3: File the Georgia LLC Articles of Organization
- Step 4: Get certified copies of your LLC formation documents
- Step 5: Create an LLC operating agreement
- Step 6: Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS
- Costs to form an LLC in Georgia
- Last steps
Step 1: Start by choosing a business name for your LLC
Choosing a name for your LLC is the first company formation step. In Georgia, as in many other states, your LLC’s business name needs to be distinguishable from other registered corporations, LLCs, and limited partnerships in the state.
To see if a business name is available in Georgia, you can use the online search tool on the Secretary of State (SOS) website. However, this database does not officially determine if a name is available. Instead, you can lock in your name when you register with the state.
If you have a good idea for a name but aren’t quite ready to submit the rest of your LLC paperwork, you can submit a name reservation request to the Georgia SOS for $25.
When doing so, you can submit up to three name choices in case some are taken already. If approved, your name reservation is valid for 30 days, so you’ll want to file the rest of your LLC paperwork by then.
If you’re still not ready, you can renew the reservation for an extra 30 days and pay an additional $25 fee.
Some businesses may use a trade name as an alternative to their legal LLC name. Georgia law generally requires companies that use a trade name, which is sometimes called a DBA or fictitious name, to register with the Clerk of Superior Court offices where they’re located.
Trade name registration costs differ slightly among different counties in Georgia. But to give you an example, the rate is $171 in Fulton County, where Atlanta is located.
Also, remember that registering a trade name typically doesn’t provide the same protection as LLC incorporation. Thus, you may also want to take legal steps like trademarking your trade name.
Step 2: Appoint a registered agent
After picking out a name for your LLC, you’ll need to designate a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or company with a street address in Georgia that receives your official mail and other types of communication.
Georgia limited liability companies need a registered agent located within the state who’s available at the designated address during regular business hours, whether a home address or an office. You can’t use a P.O. box.
You or another member of your LLC can be the registered agent. But many businesses choose to use a third party such as a lawyer or company that provides registered agent services.
Hiring another party doesn’t have to be expensive. You can expect to spend $50 to $100 per year. One benefit of hiring a registered agent is that you get someone to help handle legal documents and important correspondence so that an official notice from the state isn’t lost in the mail.
Step 3: File the Georgia LLC Articles of Organization
The next step to forming an LLC in Georgia is to file your Articles of Organization. While there are still some things you need to do after, this filing officially establishes and registers your business in the state.
Georgia provides a template you can use, but the state does recommend consulting with a professional such as an attorney to see if anything else should be added. For example, you may want to list the members of your LLC, especially if there’s more than one.
If you file by mail or in-person, be sure also to fill out and include the state’s transmittal form, which provides basic information such as the LLC’s mailing address, registered agent contact information, and member details. Or you can file online, which may be a more streamlined process.
The fees and processing times for the various ways to file Articles of Organization are as follows:
|Fees and timing for filing Articles of Organization in Georgia|
Standard filing fees
Standard processing time
|7 business days||15 business days|
Step 4: Get certified copies of your LLC formation documents
This is a vital step that's often overlooked.
Once the Secretary of State approves your Articles of Organization, you want to get certified copies for your business records. You may also need to provide certified copies to banks to open a business bank account or obtain financing.
Certified copies start at $20 in Georgia.
Step 5: Create an LLC operating agreement
After registering with the relevant departments in Georgia, you’re almost at the finish line. But, to set your LLC up for success, you should prepare an LLC operating agreement.
An LLC operating agreement is a binding contract that covers operational and financial areas like how members can be added or removed from the LLC and how profits will be distributed. In addition to helping solidify how your LLC should operate, having this agreement in place can also protect your operations from member disputes.
To create your operating agreement, you have flexibility, such as using online templates or consulting with an attorney to draft one.
Expect to spend a couple of hundred dollars for help through an online platform, and up to $1,000 if you turn to a lawyer. Keep in mind that while the costs of working with a professional may be more than creating an operating agreement yourself, it’s crucial to establish a proper one to protect your LLC.
Once you complete the operating agreement, you do not need to file it with officials in Georgia. Instead, you can keep it with your records.
Step 6: Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS
Depending on your type of operations, business owners may need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). An EIN, a federal tax ID, is required for LLCs with employees. But even some single-member LLCs need EINs.
You may want to obtain one to make it easier to open a business bank account for your new company. You may also need an EIN to register with the Georgia Department of Revenue and Department of Labor. Plus, if you don’t have an EIN, you’ll need to use your Social Security number for many business forms and tax filings. So, you may prefer to keep the business and personal information separate.
Costs to start an LLC in Georgia
- Name reservation: $25
- Trade name/DBA: varies by county
- Professional registered agent: $50 – $100 / annually
- Filing Articles of Organization: $100
- Certified document copies: $20+
- Drafting operating agreement: $0 – $1,000
- GRAND TOTAL: $195 – $1,245
In addition to registering with the Georgia SOS, you might need to register your LLC with the state’s Department of Revenue and Department of Labor.
For state tax, many businesses need to register with the Georgia Department of Revenue. For example, if you need to collect sales tax or have employees and need to withhold income tax.
Registering with the Georgia Department of Revenue for business tax can be done online. In as little as 15 minutes, you usually receive your corresponding tax number via email.
For unemployment insurance tax, businesses may need to separately register with the Georgia Department of Labor, even if they don’t have employees. Registration can quickly be done online, and you learn if you’re liable for unemployment insurance tax.
The last step to starting an LLC in Georgia is to open a business bank account.
Having a separate bank account for your LLC can be important for:
- Establishing the separation of personal and business assets for legal liability protection
- Avoiding confusion between personal finances and business finances
- Creating a sense of legitimacy for your business
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