An LLC is one of the best business structures to elect when starting a business in Georgia as it protects its members from legal accountability for any business or debts conducted by the LLC. Georgia LLC formation can be intimidating for new entrepreneurs due to the paperwork and legal requirements, however, it does not have to be.
There are formation services that can be appointed to handle the process for you, but it is not a legal requirement. Below you will find a 5 step walkthrough on all the main aspects of forming a Georgia LLC.
Step 1: Choosing a Name for your Georgia LLC
Before anything else, an LLC name must be chosen. Georgia state regulations dictate that:
- The term “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation thereof must be part of the name.
- The name may not exceed 80 characters. This includes spaces and punctuation.
- The name may not be similar or identical to another registered name. The Georgia state database can be checked for verification.
- The name may not include words that imply it is a government agency or a professional service like a bank.
Name reservations can be requested for up to 30 days. As with most states, the filing can be done online at a fee of $25 and will take approximately 7 days to process.
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent
It is mandatory for a Georgia LLC to appoint a registered agent. The appointed individual or business entity will receive legal notices and tax filings amongst other documents on behalf of the LLC. When choosing a registered agent there are a few rules to consider:
- The registered agent must be a Georgia resident.
- They must always be available during regular business hours.
- A foreign company must have the authority to do business in Georgia.
- They must have a Georgia physical address.
You can appoint yourself as a registered agent however it is not advisable. Hiring a registered agent service means having the flexibility to travel and ensuring paperwork is received and actioned in a timely manner.
Step 3: File Formation Paperwork
An LLC can only be registered by filing Articles of Organization (Form CD-030) with the Georgia State Department through the mail or by submitting it online. The Articles are usually processed within 7 business days and cost $100. For an additional $100, the process can be sped up to a 24-hour turnaround time.
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
The Operating Agreement will detail how the business will be managed on a day-to-day basis. It will also specify details such as members’ shares, how profits are divided, and any other important rules, regulations, and processes to run the LLC successfully.
Without an agreement in place, the LLC runs the risk of exposing itself to lengthy court battles should any disputes arise between members. The more comprehensive the agreement, the more secure the business and members’ interests are.
Step 5: Obtain an EIN and Licenses
An EIN is obtained from the IRS and enables the LLC to apply for taxes, hire employees, open business bank accounts as well as apply for loans or credit. An EIN shows that the business is professional and some vendors might even require an EIN number before doing business with the LLC. It is free to obtain and can be done online via the IRS website.
Certain businesses like those selling alcohol will need a special liquor permit. To check whether your LLC requires a special permit, the official Georgia Professional Licensing Boards Division website has all the relevant information on licensing and permits.
Now that Georgia LLC has been established, it is time to finetune some other aspects in order to start trading like opening a business bank account and business credit card. Keeping personal and business finances is crucial for the proper financial management of the LLC and filing taxes.
Lastly, remember to file an annual registration. This can be done online and costs $50. It is a state requirement and failure to do so will result in the Georgia LLC automatically being dissolved. The submission dates are between January 1st and April 1st of each year.
Suggested Video on Georgia LLC Formation: