Starting an LLC in Georgia: How-to Guide

Written by Melissa Pedigo – CPA, updated on

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.


6 Steps to Start an LLC in Georgia


Step 1: Start by choosing a business name for your LLC

Choosing a name for your LLC is the first step to forming your new company. And you need to make sure it follows Georgia law.

In Georgia, your LLC’s business name needs to:

  • Include Limited Liability Company, Limited Company, or an abbreviation like LLC or LC
  • Be unique and distinguishable from other registered entities
  • Avoid using words related to regulated industries like banking or insurance, unless authorized

Use the online search tool on the Secretary of State (SOS) website to see if your name is taken.

georgia business name search

Name reservations

If you have a good idea for a name but aren’t ready to submit the rest of your LLC paperwork, you can file a name reservation request to the Georgia SOS. There’s a $25 fee.

When doing so, you can submit up to three name choices in case some are unavailable. If approved, your name reservation is valid for 30 days. You’ll want to file the rest of your LLC paperwork before then.

If you’re still not ready, you can renew the reservation for an extra 30 days. An extra $25 fee applies.

Trade name

If you want, you can operate your business under a name different from the LLC’s legal name. This is a common tool known as a trade name, doing-business-as (DBA), or fictitious name.

Georgia law requires companies to register trade names with the local Clerk of Superior Court office.

Trade name registration costs differ among different counties in Georgia. In Atlanta’s Fulton County, the rate is $171.

Also, registering a trade name doesn’t provide quite the same legal protection as LLC incorporation. You may also want to trademark 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 that receives your official mail. This includes vital legal documents.

Georgia LLC registered agents must:

  • Have a physical address in Georgia (not a P.O. Box)
  • Be available during regular business hours

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.

You get help handling legal documents and important correspondence. Someone else sorts through your junk mail. And you get to keep your address out of the public record, protecting your privacy.

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. This filing officially establishes and registers your business in the state. It’s a big step toward opening a business.

Georgia provides a template you can use. And it only requires very basic information, including:

  • The LLC’s name
  • The effective date
  • Signature of the person filing the form

You’ll also need to have the LLC’s mailing address, the registered agent’s contact information, and member details. Georgia SOS also recommends consulting with a professional to see if you should add anything else.

You can file online through a streamlined process. You can also file by mail or in person. Make sure to include the state’s transmittal form if you do so.

The fees and processing times for filing the Articles of Organization are as follows:

Fees and timing for filing Articles of Organization in Georgia

Online

Mail

In-person

Standard filing fees

$100 $110

$110

Standard processing time

7 business days 15 business days

Varies

Expedited options

  • $100 to process in 2 business days
  • $250 to process on the same business day (if submitted before noon on a business day)
  • $100 to process in 2 business days
  • $250 to process on the same business day (if submitted before noon on a business day)
  • $1,000 to process in one hour between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. business days
  • $100 to process in 2 business days
  • $250 to process on the same business day (if submitted before noon on a business day)
  • $1,000 to process in one hour between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 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. Certified copies start at $20 in Georgia.

Some banks and financing options might require this document to open an account or work with your LLC.

Step 5: Create an LLC operating agreement

You’re almost to the finish line. 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 concerns. It’s an internal agreement between members.

An operating agreement often includes:

  • How to add or remove members
  • How to distribute profits or losses
  • Rights and duties of members and managers
  • Method for dissolving the LLC
  • Other procedures for handling disputes

To create your operating agreement, you can use an online template. Or you can consult with an attorney to customize one for around $1,000 or more. While the professional costs are higher, protecting your interests can be worth it.

You do not need to file an operating agreement with Georgia officials. Instead, you can keep it with your records and give every member a copy.

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 is a federal tax ID that’s like a Social Security number for businesses.

All LLCs with employees or more than one member must get an EIN. See the IRS rules for more details. You may also need an EIN for banking or state tax purposes.

Obtaining an EIN is free, and you can do so directly through the IRS, either online, by fax, mail, or phone for international applicants. Filing online can lead to getting an EIN immediately.

Costs to start an LLC in Georgia

The minimum cost to start an LLC in Georgia is $100 to file the Articles of Organization. Other Georgia LLC startup fees may include:

  • Name reservation: $25
  • Trade name/DBA: varies by county
  • Professional registered agent: $50 – $100 / annually
  • Certified document copies: $20+
  • Drafting operating agreement: $0 – $1,000
  • GRAND TOTAL: $100 – $1,245

Last steps

At this point, you’ve created your Georgia LLC and are almost ready to start doing business. Before you do, you’ll want to handle a few more details first.

Georgia tax registrations

Many LLCs need to register with the Georgia Department of Revenue. This applies if your business is subject to sales and use tax, needs an alcohol license, or engages in many other activities.

Head over to the Georgia Department of Revenue to see what your business might need.

Register a new business in Georgia registration page

For unemployment insurance tax, some businesses need to register with the Georgia Department of Labor. If you hire employees, this is a must. You can register quickly online and learn if you’re liable for unemployment insurance tax.

Local licenses and permits

Other needs can come from local authorities, including city and county officials. They may require your LLC to get certain licenses or permits before operating.

For example, all businesses operating within the City of Atlanta must get a Business License. Certain activities require an extra permit, such as alcohol sales and vending.

Fulton County also handles Business Licenses for unincorporated areas in the Fulton Industrial District.

Check with your local authorities to get what your LLC needs.

Business bank account

The last step to starting an LLC in Georgia is to open a business bank account. Having a separate bank account for your LLC helps to:

  • Establish separation of personal and business assets for legal protection
  • Avoid confusion in business recordkeeping
  • Create a sense of legitimacy for your business

If your LLC gets sued and you’ve combined personal and business finances, your personal assets may be at risk.

Now it’s time to get the ball rolling. Figure out if your name is available by turning to the Georgia SOS Business Search. Then select your registered agent and get your Articles of Organization ready.

Before you know it, you’ll be able to discover the thrill of being a business owner. Don’t forget to connect with local leaders through organizations like the Chamber of Commerce or the Georgia SBDC.

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Last updated: May 2024
Melissa Pedigo

Article by:

Melissa Pedigo

CPA

Melissa Pedigo is a US CPA with more than 20 years of experience. She’s worked at Big 4 firms, for the government, and internationally. Now a full-time writer, she enjoys translating complex financial and tax topics into plain English. When she’s not keeping current reading IRS rules or tax legislation, you’ll find her studying foreign languages or playing tennis.

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