Starting an LLC in Georgia
A Georgia Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure formed to protect your personal assets (home, car, bank account) in the event your business is sued.
A Georgia LLC can be used to operate a business, or an LLC can be used to acquire and hold assets (such as real estate, vehicles, boats, or aircraft).
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1. Georgia LLC Name
The first thing to do is make sure your desired Georgia LLC name is unique and available for use.
Your LLC name needs to be “distinguishable upon the record” (unique) among all the existing businesses registered with the Georgia Secretary of State.
Search your Georgia LLC business name here:
Georgia Corporations Division: Business Search
Limited Liability Company Designator
Your LLC’s business name must end with a proper designator. Georgia law allows for the following:
- LLC (most common)
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Liability Co.
- Ltd. Liability Company
- Ltd. Liability Co.
Note: Under Georgia law, your LLC’s business name can’t exceed 80 characters (including spaces and punctuation).
2. Georgia Registered Agent
All LLCs in Georgia need to designate a Georgia Registered Agent. A Registered Agent is a person (or company) that agrees to receive Service of Process (a fancy word for legal mail) in the event your LLC gets sued.
The address that a Registered Agent uses must be a street address located in Georgia. The state does not allow for the use of PO Boxes. If your Registered Agent will be a person, that person must be a resident of Georgia.
Who can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in Georgia?
You have 3 options:
- You can be your own Registered Agent
- A friend or relative can be the LLC’s Registered Agent
- You can hire a Registered Agent Service
Professional Registered Agent Service in Georgia
We recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year). Northwest has been in the business for over 20 years and they have great customer service. Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded to your online account.
3. Articles of Organization
The Georgia Articles of Organization is the form you’ll file to create your LLC.
Georgia LLC filing fee: $100 if filing online or $110 if filing by mail. The fee will be paid to the Georgia Secretary of State.
(See Georgia LLC Cost to learn more about fees)
Filing methods: You can file by mail or online. We recommend filing online as it’s easier and the approval time is faster.
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE
Suite 313, West Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334
Important: If filing by mail, you must send 2 copies of the Articles of Organization. Only 1 copy of the Transmittal Form is needed though. Disregard this if you are filing online.
Online LLC filing: Georgia Secretary of State: Corporations Division
Georgia LLC approval times: 15 business days (plus mail time) if you file by mail, or 7-10 business days if you use online filing.
Note: Filing times may take longer due to the current global situation and government delays. Please see how long does it take to get an LLC in Georgia.
What you get back: You’ll receive a receipt, a stamped and approved copy of your Articles of Organization, and a Certificate of Organization (which has a state seal and can be used when opening a business bank account).
- If you file by mail, these documents are returned by mail.
- If you file online, these documents are returned by email.
Expedited filing: Faster processing times are available for both filing by mail and filing online.
- 2 options for online expediting: $100 extra for 2-day processing or $250 extra for same-day processing.
- 1 option for mail expediting: $100 extra for 2-day processing. You don’t need an expedited form for this. Just include the extra amount in your check or money order.
4. LLC Operating Agreement
You will need to draft a Georgia LLC Operating Agreement. The document is kept “internally”, meaning, you don’t need to send it to the Georgia Corporations Division, or any other agency. You’ll just keep it with your corporate records at your home or office address.
An LLC Operating Agreement is essentially an agreement between the owners (called “members”) of an LLC. It spells out who owns the business, how much each person owns, how profits are split, how taxes are paid, and more.
Even if your LLC has 1 Member (called a Single-Member LLC), it’s still best practice to have an Operating Agreement. This helps keep the liability protection granted by the Limited Liability Company.
Georgia LLC Operating Agreement template: We provide free Georgia Operating Agreement templates for LLCs that you can download here: Georgia LLC Operating Agreement.
5. Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)
A Federal Tax ID Number (also known as an EIN) is like a “social security number” for your LLC. The EIN is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and it helps identify your company for reporting and tax purposes.
A Georgia EIN for an LLC is also used for opening a business bank account and handling employee payroll (if applicable).
Common names: An EIN is also called: Federal Tax Number, Federal Employer Identification Number, FEIN, Federal Tax ID Number, EIN, and Employer Identification Number. They are all referring to the same thing.
Get LLC approval first: You should only apply for an EIN after your LLC is approved by the state of Georgia.
Cost: EINs are $0. Yup, they are free from the IRS. They can be obtained in 1 of 3 ways: by mail (using Form SS-4), by fax (the number is 855-641-6935), or via the online application (the fastest and preferred method).
Non-US resident/no SSN: if you are not a US citizen or you don’t have an SSN (social security number) or ITIN, you can still get an EIN from the IRS. You just can’t get it via the online application. Instead, you’ll need to mail or fax (we recommend faxing) Form SS-4 to the IRS and enter “Foreign” on line 7b. We have instructions here: How to get an EIN without SSN.
6. Georgia LLC Annual Report (Annual Registration)
All LLCs in Georgia must regularly file a Georgia Annual Report (called “Annual Registration“). This is due every year, regardless of income or activity in the business.
The first Annual Registration is due between January 1st and April 1st of the year after your LLC’s year of formation. Following payments are due between January 1st and April 1st every year. We recommend filing as early as possible to avoid any penalties or fines.
Annual Registration Fee: $50 per year.
Online filing: Although the Georgia LLC Annual Registration fee can be filed online or by mail, the state prefers online fillings as they are faster and more convenient.
File your Annual Registration online: Georgia Secretary of State: Corporations Division
- If you are not making changes, click “One Click Annual Registration With No Changes“
- If you are making changes, click “Annual Registration With Changes“
Penalty: There is a $25 late fee if you submit the Annual Registration Fee after April 1st. And continually ignoring this requirement is a bad idea. The state will administratively dissolve (shut down) your LLC.
What you’ll get back: Once you successfully submit your report online, you’ll be able to download a receipt in your eCorp dashboard. You will also receive an email from the state with your receipt.
7. Business Licenses and/or Permits
The Georgia business licenses and/or permits your LLC needs will depend on its location and the industry it is engaged in. To know more about these requirements, contact the city, town or county where your LLC is located and the government agencies that regulate your LLC’s industry.
Tip: Save time by hiring an expert. We recommend using IncFile ($99) to handle the business license research for you.
Our Georgia LLC Taxes lesson provides detailed descriptions of LLC Tax obligations and information on how to apply for a Georgia State Taxpayer ID Number.
Federal taxes: LLCs in Georgia (and all states for that matter) have “pass through ” taxation, meaning the income/losses from the LLC will usually be listed on a Schedule C, which is a part of your personal tax return (Form 1040) filed with the IRS.
Georgia State and local taxes: After your LLC is formed, you should register with the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR). You will also likely need to register your LLC for tax purposes with your local municipality (county, city, town, etc.).
9. LLC Bank Account
Keep your LLC’s liability protection: After your LLC is formed in Georgia, you’ll want to open a separate business checking account (in the name of the LLC).
Items needed to open an account: Bring your Certificate of Organization, EIN Confirmation from the IRS, and your Driver’s License or passport. Some banks require 2 forms of ID, so call ahead of time and double-check.
Benefits: Keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances is important for 2 reasons: First, it helps you avoid “commingling of assets”, which ensures your personal liability protection. And second, it’ll make keeping track of finances a lot easier for accounting and tax purposes.
Shop around (there are free accounts): Call a few banks in Georgia and take notes. A lot of banks charge monthly maintenance fees for LLC checking accounts, but there are a handful that do not.
Debit card: The bank will give you a debit card when you open the account.
Credit card: You can also get a business credit card to earn points, miles, and other rewards.
10. Business Phone Number
Instead of using your home telephone number or your cell phone, you can purchase an affordable “virtual business number” specifically for your Georgia LLC. You can set this virtual business phone up to forward to your cell phone, go through voice prompts, or configure it any way you’d like.
We recommend using Phone.com as they have the cheapest plans and their customer service is excellent.
They offer local phone numbers as well as 1-800 toll-free numbers. You can easily set up call forwarding, pre-recorded prompts, and get voicemail messages forwarded to your email.
Getting a separate business phone number for your Georgia LLC is also a good idea in order to keep your actual number private from those pesky “public record” websites.
Georgia State Agencies
Georgia Secretary of State
Georgia Department of Revenue
How to Form an LLC in Georgia FAQs
How much does it cost to get an LLC in Georgia?
It costs $100 to start an LLC in Georgia if you file online. This is the fee paid to the Georgia Secretary of State for filing LLC Articles of Organization.
That said, you may also need to pay for municipal or industry-specific licenses and permits, or get a state-level sales tax permit. The costs of business licenses and permits vary widely by municipality. Reach out to your local municipality if you have any questions about your LLC’s unique needs.
If you have an LLC formed in another state, but you want to conduct business in Georgia, you’ll need to register that out-of-state LLC in Georgia. This is known as a Foreign LLC registration.
You can find Foreign LLC fees on this page: Foreign LLC fees by state.
What is the benefit of an LLC in Georgia?
There are 2 main benefits of having an LLC in Georgia: personal asset protection and LLC pass-through taxation.
The first benefit of a Georgia LLC is protecting your personal assets. Meaning, if your business is sued, your personal assets – like your home, cars, and bank accounts – are protected.
This protection applies to all LLC owners (called LLC Members). It doesn’t matter if you have a Single-Member LLC or Multi-Member LLC. All of the LLC Members are protected from the business’s debts and liabilities.
With a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership, these types of informal business structures, the owners aren’t protected in the event of a lawsuit. For that reason, an LLC as a business entity is a much more common business structure than a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership.
Another benefit is LLC pass-through taxation.
This means the Georgia LLC itself doesn’t pay federal income taxes. Instead, the profits “pass through” to the LLC Members. And the Members report and pay the taxes on their personal tax return.
To learn more, please see How are LLCs taxed.
How long does it take for Georgia to approve an LLC?
How long it takes to approve an LLC in Georgia depends on how you file your Articles of Organization.
If you form a Georgia LLC online, it will be approved in 7-10 business days. And you can download your documents as soon as your filing is approved.
If you form your LLC by mail, it will take 15 business days (plus mail time) for the Georgia Secretary of State to process your filing. Then you’ll receive the approval documents back in the mail.
How do I start a single member LLC in Georgia?
You can learn how to start a Single-Member LLC in Georgia yourself by following the instructions in our Georgia LLC Articles of Organization guide. We break down the process for you step-by-step.
Do I need an EIN for my LLC?
Yes, you should still get an EIN for your Georgia business entity even if you don’t hire employees.
Even though it’s called an Employer Identification Number, it doesn’t mean you as a business owner has to have employees. Again, the EIN Number is just a way for the IRS to identify your business.
Note: If you are the only owner in your business, you are not considered an employee. You are simply the owner.
What is required to form an LLC in Georgia?
There are a few basic requirements for forming an LLC in Georgia, including submitting Articles of Organization, designating a Registered Agent, drafting an Operating Agreement, and getting an EIN from the IRS.
Articles of Organization
To form an LLC in Georgia you’ll first need to file Articles of Organization with the Georgia Corporations Division. The Articles of Organization is the paperwork that forms your LLC. The paperwork will require basic information, like your desired business name, your business address, and the contact information for your Registered Agent.
Georgia businesses, including LLCs, must also have a Registered Agent. And you designate your Registered Agent in your Articles of Organization. A Registered Agent is someone who receives legal mail – and important notices from the Secretary of State’s office – on behalf of your LLC.
Your LLC should also have an Operating Agreement. This internal document lists important information about how your LLC is run, the responsibilities of each Member, and how money is handled, among other things. Every LLC Member should have a copy of the LLC Operating Agreement.
Every Georgia business owner should get an EIN. LLCs should especially get them so they can be used to open a business bank account.
You can read more about Georgia LLC requirements using the lessons on our page – and get free step-by-step instructions on how to form an LLC in Georgia.