How to Start an LLC in Georgia
To establish a limited liability company in Georgia, you must file GA LLC applications with the Georgia Corporations Division of the Office of the Secretary of State.
Follow the five steps outlined below to ensure that you properly create your LLC in Georgia. It is crucial to correctly submit all necessary paperwork online, from naming your LLC to filing it, as this will simplify the process of obtaining an LLC in Georgia.
Registering your business in Georgia is a crucial step in forming your LLC, as it places your new company in the public record and provides the state with the necessary information to communicate with and regulate your limited liability company.
However, before this step, you must select a registered agent in Georgia who will receive official correspondence and legal notices from the state. Once the necessary paperwork is filed, you will need to draft an operating agreement and obtain an EIN.
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1. Name Your Georgia LLC
To register your LLC in Georgia, you must first choose a name that complies with Georgia naming requirements.
Some of the most important requirements to keep in mind are:
- Your business name must contain the words Limited Liability Company, LLC, or L.L.C.
- Your name must be unique and cannot be the same as an existing business in the state. You can search for name availability on the Secretary of State's website or through this link.
- The business name cannot contain words that are used to name government agencies, such as State Department, CIA, FBI, Treasury, etc.
- Some restricted words like bank, lawyer, attorney, credit union, etc. may require additional documentation and licensure paperwork.
Here is a complete list of Georgia's LLC naming rules to follow.
Restricted LLC Names in Georgia
When naming your LLC, it's important to keep in mind that certain words are restricted and require approval from the appropriate agency before they can be used.
For example, if you want to use any of the following words in your business name, you'll need to obtain approval:
- Insurance words: insurance, assurance, surety, fidelity, reinsurance, reassurance, or indemnity require approval from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.
- Banking words: bank, banc, banque, banker, banking company, banking house, trust, credit union, bankruptcy, or trust company require written approval from the Department of Banking and Finance.
- Education words: college or university require approval from the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission.
2. Choose a Registered Agent
To operate as an LLC in Georgia, you are required to have a Georgia Registered Agent who is authorized to accept legal mail, also known as Service of Process, on behalf of your business.
The Registered Agent's address must be a physical street address within Georgia, as PO Boxes are not accepted. If an individual is chosen as the Registered Agent, they must be a resident of Georgia.
There are three options for choosing a Registered Agent in Georgia, which include serving as your own agent, appointing a friend or relative, or hiring a professional Registered Agent Service.
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3. File Your Georgia Articles of Organization
To ensure a smooth filing process for your LLC in Georgia, it's important to have all the necessary information ready beforehand.
Here's what you'll need:
- The name of your LLC (or a valid name reservation number if you've already reserved it).
- Your name and address.
- A valid email address.
- The mailing address of your principal office location.
- The name and address of your registered agent.
- The name and address of each organizer.
- Any provisions you want to add to your Articles of Organization (optional).
- A credit card to pay the $100 initial filing fee online. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover are accepted.
When you're ready, you can file your Articles of Organization online through the Secretary of State's website. Don't forget to create an account first and select "create or register a business."
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Receive a certificate from the state
Upon receipt of your articles of organization, the Secretary of State will begin the process of officially recognizing your LLC. After five to seven business days, your filing will be processed, and a certificate of organization will be mailed to your business address.
With this certificate, your LLC can then apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), business licenses, and a business bank account.
4. Create an Operating Agreement
While not mandatory for establishing your Georgia LLC, having an operating agreement can be highly beneficial.
This document serves several important purposes:
- It establishes the LLC's financial and operational decision-making processes
- It outlines internal procedures and assigns specific responsibilities
- It specifies how the owners' needs and interests will be addressed
5. Apply for an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is necessary for most Georgia LLCs. It serves as the LLC’s tax identification number, allowing it to establish its own bank accounts and manage employee payroll.
Although LLCs may be taxed on their members' personal tax returns, obtaining an EIN is mandatory if your LLC has employees or multiple members.
Having an EIN for your Georgia Limited Liability Company allows you to:
- Open a business bank account for your LLC
- File federal, state, and local tax returns for your LLC
- File Georgia income tax for your LLC
- Register for sales tax for your LLC
- Obtain business lines of credit or business loans for your LLC
- Get a business credit card for your LLC
- Apply for business licenses or permits for your LLC
- Handle payroll for your employees (if applicable) for your LLC.
6. File State Reports
In Georgia, LLCs are required to file an Annual Registration, which serves as the LLC's annual report. The purpose of the report is to inform the Georgia Corporations Division about any changes in the LLC's ownership or contact information.
The filing fee for the report is $50, which can be submitted online, while filing by mail or in person costs $60.
It's important to note that failure to file the Annual Registration can result in penalties or even the dissolution of your LLC.
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