How to Start an LLC in Georgia

Written by: Mary Gerardine

Last updated:

Georgia LLC is one of the most simple, cost-effective, and quick business structures to form. Even so, navigating the formation process can seem daunting without clear guidance and an actionable plan.

In this How to Start an LLC in Georgia guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to form your LLC, from the steps you’ll need to take to get started to maintaining your structure.

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Georgia LLC

In order to form an LLC in Georgia, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Name Your Georgia LLC
  2. Pick a Georgia Registered Agent
  3. Submit the Certificate of Formation
  4. Create a Georgia LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN
  6. File Your BOI Report

In the sections below, we’ve broken down each of these steps in more detail.

Step 1: Name Your Georgia LLC

The first thing you’ll need to do before getting started is picking the right name for your LLC. This is important because your business’s name will need to represent your brand accurately, as well as be as memorable as possible.

In Georgia, all LLC names need to abide by the following statutory guidelines in order to be accepted by the Secretary of State:

  • Must be distinguishable from the names of all other LLCs, LPs, and corporations under the Georgia Secretary of State’s records. The following changes are considered “not distinguishable” from a name that’s already in use by a business entity registered in Georgia:
    • &” and “And”  (e.g., “AB LLC” and “A&B LLC”)
    • Punctuation  (e.g., “ABC LLC” and “A.B.C. LLC”)
    • Plural (e.g., “Child Care Center LLC” and “Children Care Center LLC”)
    • Suffix (e.g., “Creative Design LLC” and “Creative Design Ltd”)
  • There are certain restricted names in Georgia that you’ll need to obtain specific approval in order to use, including:
    • Insurance words: Such as “assurance”, “insurance”, and “surety”, which you must obtain the written approval of the Office of Commissioner of Insurance to use
    • Banking words: Such as “bank”, “banker”, or “bankruptcy”, which all require the written permission of the Department of Banking and Finance
    • Education words: Such as “college” or “university”, which require the written approval of the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission

These requirements for LLC names are discussed in greater detail in Georgia’s official Naming Guidelines.

Keep in mind that even though picking an LLC name in itself has no cost, there are certain fees that can be associated with the overall process.

Reserve an LLC Name

If you’re not yet ready to launch your business and still need a little more time, you can choose to reserve your desired LLC name for later by submitting a Name Reservation Request with the Secretary of State.

This costs $35 when filed using the paper form and $25 when submitted online through the Georgia Corporations Division website. Regardless of how you submit this request, it will keep anyone from being able to take the name you plan to use for 30 days.

If you need any longer than this, you can choose to renew your name reservation for another 30 days by repaying the relevant filing fee.

Note: Be sure to perform a Business Search for your desired name on the Georgia Corporations Division website before paying for a reservation request to ensure you don’t waste your money.

Register a DBA Name

Another potential cost associated with naming your LLC is a “doing business as” name — or “trade name” as it’s known in Georgia. This is essentially a nickname that you can choose to register for your business to operate under, particularly if you’re not content with your LLC’s legal name.

To register a DBA name for your Georgia LLC, you’re required to submit a county-specific application with your local Clerk of the Superior Court — this typically costs anywhere from $150 to $200.

You’ll also likely be required to publish the registration of your LLC’s DBA name in a local newspaper once a week for two weeks in a row.

Note: Be sure to use the Superior Court Clerks of Georgia website to obtain the contact information of the Clerk of the Superior Court in your local county and find out more about this process.

Buy a Domain Name

Finally, you’ll want to focus on securing a good domain name (which is your website’s address) for your business. For this, try to focus on choosing one that’s easy for customers to remember, relevant to your business, and accurately reflects your brand.

After confirming the domain name you want to use is actually available, you can purchase it through a trusted registrar.

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Step 2: Pick a Registered Agent

The next step you’ll need to take toward forming your LLC is to pick a registered agent.

This is an individual or business entity that accepts legal correspondence on behalf of your business, such as service of process, notice of lawsuits, and official government communications; you’re required to continuously maintain one as long as your LLC is active.

Your registered agent can be an individual or business entity, but will need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • If an individual, must be at least 18 years of age and a resident of Georgia
  • If a business entity, must be authorized to operate within the state
  • The RA’s business office address must be the same as its registered office address
  • Must have a physical address in Georgia (i.e., it cannot be a mailing address/PO box)

Did you know? You can choose to act as your own registered agent if you’re looking to save money; this is generally not recommended, however, as you’re much more likely to suffer fines and penalties due to non-compliance than if you just hire a professional service.

On top of this, you’ll lose any anonymity your LLC would have given you since your name, address, and contact information will be publicly available.

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Step 3: Submit Your Articles of Organization

In Georgia, the Articles of Organization is the filing document that you’ll need to submit with the Corporations Division in order to officially register your LLC (this is also referred to as the Certificate of Formation in other states).

To submit this form you can either use Form CD 030 or draft the document yourself. Regardless of how you choose to file, it must be accompanied by a Transmittal Form and the relevant filing fee — which is $100 for a domestic business entity and $225 for a foreign entity.

In the sections below, we’ve explored the most common ways of submitting your LLC’s formation document in more detail.

Online Filings

The quickest and easiest way to submit your LLC’s Articles of Organization is online through the Georgia Corporations Division website.

Mail Filings

Alternatively, you’re also able to file your Articles of Organization by mailing (or delivering in-person) Form CD 030 along with your completed Transmittal Form to the following address:

Corporations Division
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE
Suite 313 West Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334

Your submission should be accompanied with a check/money order for the relevant filing fee. Be aware that paper applications will also carry an additional $10 service charge that must be paid.

Note: If you choose to draft your Articles of Organization yourself, you must do so in accordance with the guidelines outlined in GA Code § 14-11-204 (2022).

Step 4: Create a Georgia LLC Operating Agreement

Once this is completed, the next step you’ll need to take is to create an operating agreement.

This is an internal document that clearly outlines the ownership and management structure of your company in order to reduce potential future conflict.

While this document isn’t legally mandated in Georgia, all LLCs are recommended to have one as it can help maintain both: smooth operations and your LLC’s corporate veil between your business and personal finances.

A number of companies provide drafting services for operating agreements online, typically for a fee of around a few hundred dollars. However, it’s quite easy to sort this out by yourself if you want to save money, and you can even find a number of free templates online to help with this.

Step 5: Get an EIN

Even though it’s not a legal requirement (unless your LLC has employees or multiple members), all Georgia LLCs should apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

This is a free, nine-digit number used by the IRS to identify your business and keep track of its tax reporting — much like a Social Security Number (SSN) for individuals.

You’ll need an EIN to be able to:

  • Hire employees
  • Open a business bank account
  • Apply for some business licenses/permits
  • Establish a line of credit

On top of this, using an EIN instead of a Social Security Number (SSN) helps to protect your personal information and safeguard your anonymity as the business owner of your LLC.

You can quickly apply for an EIN for your LLC online through the IRS website. You’re also able to submit a paper application using Form SS-4 either via fax to (855) 641-6935, or by mailing it to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Note: Don’t worry if you don’t already have an SSN, it’s not necessary to have one in order to apply for an EIN — instead, you can just leave Section 7b of the application blank and call the IRS on (267) 941-1099.

Step 6: File a BOI Report

Starting January 2024, the vast majority of LLC owners will be required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

This is part of an initiative by the U.S. government to stop individuals and entities engaging in illegal or unethical activities from being able to conceal this using “opaque ownership structures”, like shell companies, to hide their true identities.

Existing LLCs will be able to file this report anytime between January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, while new LLCs will have up to 90 days after the date they were initially formed to do so (30 days for LLCs formed after the start of 2025).

Keep in mind that failure to file your LLC’s BOI report on time can result in exorbitantly high fines (i.e., $591 per day) or even jail time (up to two years).

Note: Not every LLC owner is required to file a BOI report. For example, companies with more than 20 full-time employees, accounting firms, and banks are exempt. For a full list of filing exemptions, you can have a look at FinCEN’s website.

How to Maintain Your Georgia LLC

In order to keep operating legally in the state of Georgia, you’ll need to file an annual registration with the Secretary of State each year.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to complete this step, as we’ve detailed all the information you’ll need to know in the sections below.

File an Annual Registration

To keep your Georgia LLC in good standing, you must file an Annual Registration with the Secretary of State’s Georgia Corporations Division by April 1 each year. The cost for filing online is $50, while mail submissions cost $60.

You can complete your annual registration online via the Georgia Corporation Division website, which also provides further guidance on the filing process. This annual filing updates the state with your LLC’s current information, such as its business name, registered agent, and address.

If you miss the April 1 deadline, you’ll be charged a $25 late fee. Failure to pay this penalty could result in your LLC facing civil penalties or administrative dissolution by the Georgia Secretary of State.

Georgia vs Other States

The state of Georgia is well renowned for its pro-business policies, tax benefits, and streamlined regulations — making the LLC formation process easier and faster than a lot of other states.

On top of this, Georgia boasts a sophisticated network of transportation and infrastructure for LLCs to take advantage of, including the world’s busiest airport (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport) and a major seaport (Port of Savannah). This allows for efficient and cost-effective movement of goods and materials.

Regardless, keep in mind that the best state to form your LLC is almost always the state that you will be operating in; this is because otherwise you’ll likely be required to register as a foreign LLC in your home state, meaning that you’ll need to pay registration and maintenance fees twice.

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Georgia Secretary of State Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Corporations Division – Georgia Secretary of State
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE, Suite 313 West Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Contact Information:

Email: Office of Secretary of State Corporations Division
OR
soscontact@sos.ga.gov
Phone: (404) 065-2817

How to Start an LLC in Georgia FAQ

How much does an LLC cost in Georgia?

In Georgia, forming a domestic limited liability company costs $100 for the initial filing fee if submitted online, and $110 if filed by mail ($225 for foreign entities). Additional costs include a $50 annual registration fee, as well as fees for name reservation and hiring a registered agent service if needed.

For a more detailed breakdown of all these expenses, check out our Georgia LLC Cost guide.

How long does it take for an LLC to be approved in Georgia?

The approval time for an LLC in Georgia varies depending on the filing method. Online filings typically take five to seven business days online, while mail submissions may take up to two weeks. Expedited filings are also available for an additional fee.

We cover the process of getting a Georgia LLC approved in our How to Start an LLC in Georgia guide.

Do LLCs pay taxes in Georgia?

Yes, while an LLC’s members (instead of the entity) must pay state income tax, this business structure that offers limited personal liability is also responsible for sales tax, withholding tax for employees, and the annual registration fee in Georgia.

Your LLC may also owe additional state-level taxes depending on its business structure and the specific activities it engages in.

Do I need a business license in Georgia for my LLC?

While it will ultimately depend on the type of business activities you engage in and the locality within Georgia you operate from, it’s likely that the person filing for your LLC will need to obtain some form of business license for it to operate legally.

For more tips on getting started, check out our How to Start an LLC guide.

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