Start an LLC in Georgia

Last updated on: October 6, 2021

Any business starts with a good idea and a plan of how to bring this idea to life. Yet, to delve into the real business world and lawfully run some activities on a daily basis, you need to give your venture a legal form. Though your choice is not limited to LLCs, a limited liability company is a good choice for many types of activities and nicely matches smaller and growing businesses alike, mostly thanks to its flexibility at different levels. Think about launching a business in the state of Georgia and wonder how to create an LLC in Georgia? Whether you choose to complete the formation process by yourself or hire an LLC service, being aware of all formation stages is important anyway. So, keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about forming an LLC in Georgia. 

Forming an LLC in Georgia: Key Aspects to Consider

No matter the state you seek to register your business in, LLC formation embraces some key steps to set up a legal entity and file it with the state and after-formation requirements that you need to take into account. First, let’s take a look at the LLC filing process itself. 

Select a Company Name for Your Georgia LLC

Names differentiate people. You can’t be identified without a name in the community or society for any purpose. The same is true for businesses. Any type of business entity needs a name, and can’t be registered without a moniker. LLCs are not an exception in this concern. Yet, while sole proprietorships are automatically named after their owners, a limited liability company can be anything you name it. In other words, inventing a name for your Georgia LLC registration is solely about your imagination and creativity. At the same time, though, it is also subject to certain LLC naming requirements valid in Georgia and other US states:

  • First and foremost, the LLC company name should be unique, at least in the state of formation. It means that your LLC business name in Georgia can’t be similar to other already registered names in this state despite the fact that some other companies in other states are allowed to have this name. What brings secure name protection nationwide is a trademark, which needs to be registered separately; 
  • All LLC names in Georgia should contain a business entity identifier, i.e. such words as “Ltd.”, “Limited”, “Limited Liability Company”, “LLC”, etc.;
  • Any denominations referred to other business entities, financial, regulatory, or financial institutions, and academic or scientific degrees are not allowed unless you have separate permission for that. These are such words as “bank”, “trust”, “corporation”, “doctor”, “engineer”, etc.;
  • An LLC name can’t be longer than 80 characters that also covers spaces and punctuation marks. Overall, it’s better to give preference to shorter names that are easy to spell and memorize;
  • The company name should be catchy, distinguishable, recognizable, and should somehow relate to the area of your business activity. To create an original and memorable business name, get inspired with literature, art, science, and geography, or apply such simple yet efficient tricks as joining the parts of meaningful words into new fancy combinations. 

Georgia LLC Name Check

Inventing a name for your LLC, it’s recommended that you create a few versions since you don’t know which one appears to be unique. Once you have several name options at hand, you need to do a name search to make sure the name you want for your company is not occupied by some other LLC in this state. To do the check, simply use the Business Search tool on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website. If the search shows the chosen name is not unique, you won’t be allowed to use it for your business registration and need to modify it. Remember, that articles, suffixes, conjunctions, punctuation marks, plural and passive forms, symbols, or abbreviations won’t make your name version different from the already existing one. Yet, what does help to make a company name unique is juggling with synonyms and keywords, using acronyms and foreign words, using proper names, and introducing mixed word combinations. 

Georgia LLC Name Reservation

Once you churn out a unique business name that you really like, you need to protect it somehow from being possibly swiped by some other entity under registration. And there are two ways you can do it. You need either immediately file the Articles of Organization with the state or reserve the desired name if you are not quite ready to proceed with the filing process. Noteworthy, while other states offer name reservation periods from 60 to 120 days, in Georgia, you can put a business name on hold only for 30 days. You just need to pay $25 and place a Name Reservation Request form online or mail it along with a payment cheque to: 

Office of Secretary of State
Corporations Division, Name Reservation Request
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE, Suite 313 West Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334  

Reservation requests are processed within about 5 days for online forms and up to 7 days for paper forms accordingly. If needed, you can cut down the processing time to two days for $100 or 24 hours for $250. It makes sense if you plan to use the chosen name not only for legal but also for marketing purposes and make it a part of your brand. 

Draft an Operating Agreement

Straight off the reel, an Operating Agreement is not an obligatory document for creating an LLC in Georgia, yet, it’s an essential bylaw serving as a part of a supportive LLC framework. The document sets the rules for LLC management and daily operation as well as procedures of company profit distribution between the owners and procedures for owners’ interaction on some strategic and vital issues, as well as outline the voting rights of the company members. As such, an LLC Operating Agreement works to avert any internal conflicts and disagreements between the company owners, thus, functioning as an important management tool for multi-member LLCs and enhancing overall LLC credibility in the eyes of financial, crediting, and regulatory authorities. If you decide to raise business financing through credits and business loans, banks will require to provide an Operating Agreement along with other docs. Besides, it’s a helpful tool in settling and regulating lawsuits, should they arise. 

Since there is no fixed legal form for an Operating Agreement, you can write down your Georgia Operating Agreement by yourself using one of the numerous typical templates you can find online. However, if you want the document to perfectly match your individual business situation and scenario, you can hire an attorney to draft it for you. In this case, though, get ready to pay quite high hourly rates. Yet another alternative to the DIY method is delegating this task to an LLC service. Many advanced business formation services like ZenBusiness make a free Operating Agreement a part of their LLC packages. At a fraction of the price you’d pay for attorney services, you can have not only an Operating Agreement drafted but also an LLC formed. 

Assign a Registered Agent

A registered agent is a must-have component to launch an LLC in any state including Georgia. What is a Georgia registered agent? It’s a representative of your company for mailing communication with the state or regulatory authorities. It’s an entity designated by the LLC to handle letters, notifications, inquiries, or any other official documents sent by state or federal bodies to your company. A registered agent for an LLC in Georgia should be the state resident physically present in the location and available during business hours within workdays to personally receive the correspondence and other communications meant for your company. Upon document receipt, a registered agent should let you know about that. This way, you won’t miss any important notifications and keep up with the state requirements even if you are out of state. Besides, as the business grows, you’ll have more and more other tasks to tackle. So, it’s nice to have someone to regularly deal with piles of routine paperwork. 

When it comes to law requirements, an entity that can serve as an LLC registered agent in Georgia is either an individual or a legal person. Speaking of the latter, though it could be any legal person with a physical address in the state, it’s much more convenient to pick a registered agent service for this purpose. 

Registered Agent Service for a Georgia LLC

LLC formation services available in numbers on the modern legal market can make LLC filing a breeze for you. They not only work to match all LLC filing requirements but also make their formation bundles complete with many helpful add-ons, and registered agent service is one of the options nearly all LLC services have on their menus. Yet, while some formation providers sell it as an added service, others incorporate a whole year of free registered agent services in their LLC packages. If you’d ask us, our strong recommendation here is IncFile. This company has a lot to impress you with. While providing a registered agent for free, it will also form your LLC for free (which is at the cost of the state fee only). 

Individual As Georgia Registered Agent

Any adult individual can serve as a registered agent for an LLC in Georgia. You can appoint some of your friends or relatives for this function. However, a more reasonable choice would be an accountant, attorney, lawyer, or tax consultant that knows the LLC structure from within and can even give you some sort of advice from time to time. 

Submit Georgia Articles of Organization

To make your company eligible when applying for LLC in GA, you need to submit and register the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. This is what will finalize the formal and obligatory part of your Georgia LLC formation process. It’s a document containing common information about your LLC that will be your official certificate of formation when reviewed and approved by the state body. For the Secretary of State to accept your Articles of Organization, you need to pay a one-time filing fee, which is $100 in Georgia, and then send the document to the regulatory office by one of the following methods.

Online

Sign in with the electronic filing system of the Corporation Division and follow detailed online instructions to register your business in Georgia from wherever you are. 

By Mail or In Person

If you choose to submit a paper version, get ready to send or hand in two forms including the Articles of Organization and the Transmittal Information Form to the following address:

Office of Secretary of State
Corporations Division
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE, Suite 313 West Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Normally, formation docs are reviewed and approved within about a week depending on the overall workload of the Secretary of State. Yet, you have an option to cut down this time to two days at $100 in extra or have your papers processed the same day at $250 accordingly. 

Open a Business Bank Account

By forming an LLC, you legally separate from your business and let your business entity function on its own. To make it more than a formal feature, create a separate LLC bank account for your venture once the formation process is over. This way, you will draw a line between your personal and business assets, make it easier to account for the business turnovers and cash flows, and further maintain your company’s legal independence. To open a business bank account when commencing an LLC in Georgia, you need to have formation documents at hand along with an Operating Agreement and the company’s EIN.

Acquire an EIN for Your LLC

An EIN or an Employer Identification Number is a nine-digit identifier assigned to legal entities to make them distinguishable for the IRS service. Though LLCs initially don’t pay federal and state taxes, unless they are qualified as corporations for tax purposes, many of them still need an EIN if they are engaged in sales or hire employees. As mentioned below, banks require an EIN to open a business account. So, it’s recommended that you get one at the stage of your LLC formation.

It is the IRS that issues EINs and you can apply for your LLC EIN in one of three ways:

Online

Filing an online application is the quickest way since you can obtain your EIN the same day. Simply fill in an online form from 7 am to 10 pm on workdays. 

Mail

Filing a hard copy is also available by downloading the Form SS-4 from the IRS website, filling it, and sending it to:

Internal Revenue Service Operation
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999 

Yet, get ready that processing in case of mail application will take about a month. 

Fax

One more filing method is sending the Form SS-4 by fax to the number:

(855) 641-6935

This way, you’ll receive your EIN within four workdays. 

Forming an LLC in Georgia: Company Maintenance

When your business is legally formed, to keep it running lawfully and eligibly, you need to maintain it in good standing with the state, which in turn entangles meeting a few more regulatory requirements such as licensing, taxation, and annual filing. 

Business Licenses and Permits in Georgia

Each state calls for certain licenses and permits to operate the business on the state territory. Georgia is not an exception. Usually, licenses and special permissions are not a must for all types of activities and are only needed for some business spheres, products, and services. The business areas that require licensing in Georgia are daycare and medicare, food-related services, tobacco and alcohol distribution, agriculture. 

Notably, licenses are issued at the federal, state, and local levels. Since LLCs are created under the state statutes, the main permits your LLC will need in the state of Georgia are a business license and a seller’s permit if you plan to be engaged in commercial activities. Besides, you might need some special or professional permissions at a local level. So, to check what other types of licenses your business is exposed to in Georgia, visit the Secretary of State’s licensing page.

Filing Annual Reports

Similar to other US states, Georgia has obligatory reporting requirements for LLCs to maintain up-to-date records about all companies operating in the state. In Georgia, it’s called Annual Registration. It should be submitted up to April,1 annually and is subject to a $50 filing fee. To quickly fill in and submit this legal form, you’ll find a detailed filing guide on the Secretary of State’s website. You can apply your report either online or mail a hard copy to the following address:

Office of Secretary of State
Corporations Division
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE, Suite 313 West Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Tax Filing Requirements for Your Georgia LLC

US taxes are payable at the federal, state, and local levels. While corporations are taxable at all levels, LLCs boast flexible taxation, which is yet another big plus about this business structure

LLC Federal Taxes

Initially taxed as pass-through entities, Georgia LLCs don’t pay taxes at a federal level unless they are classified as C-Corps. It means all company incomes and losses are transferred to the tax returns of the LLC owners and are taxed at their individual tax rates. 

LLC State Taxes

State taxes for LLCs are payable under the same scheme as federal taxes. Yet, many states have specific tax payments levied to all businesses irrespective of their legal form. Yet, it won’t be the case in Georgia. 

LLC Additional Taxes

Some added taxes your business might be exposed to include Georgia Sales Tax and Use Tax if you are engaged in sales along with Unemployment and Withholding Taxes if you have hired employees. 

To learn more about taxes you’ll have to pay for doing business in Georgia, visit the Department of Revenue website or contact them directly via phone:

877-423-6711

Conclusion

Though the business formation process is quite feasible and there is nothing you can’t do on your own, setting up an LLC in Georgia will take you time, and you’ll have to get into routines one way or another. LLC services make a good alternative in this concern. One of the LLC websites you choose will not only file an LLC for you but also provide a registered agent and help keep the Georgia business register updated on a regular basis without adding too much to your Georgia LLC cost.

Senior Business Tax Writer, etc
Jean Wilson Murray
https://bestllcservices.co/
(323) 789-5289
Senior Business Tax Writer, etc
Jean Wilson Murray

In this IncFile vs ZenBusiness review, we're going to compare two of the most popular LLC formation services based on pricing, features, and drawing out differences and similarities to let you see which is most suitable for you and your business.

You can learn more about @Mike here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *