Let loose your spirit of entrepreneurship by working on your business idea. This guide on how to form an LLC in Georgia intends to provide information that you can use for setting up your business. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a construct that protects your personal assets from liabilities of your business.
While business is the key use, your Georgia LLC can also come in handy for asset management. It is possible for an LLC to hold assets like real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, etc.
To apply for an LLC in Georgia, you’ll have to file Articles of Organization. The fee is $100 for filing, followed by $50 yearly for the annual report. Here are some of the steps and pointers you can use to form your Georgia LLC.
1. A Name For Your Georgia LLC
Got a good name in mind for your business? Well, now’s the time to think if you can legally use it. An attractive business name is even more important for companies that aim to face consumers. An attractive name is just better for marketing and business.
It’s useful to have a couple of alternative names available, in case your top choice is taken. A convenient way to check for names is to search the Georgia Corporation Division database for entity names. While you’re at it, also check the USPTO Website to ensure your chosen name doesn’t run afoul of any registered trademarks.
Georgia requires an LLC name to be ‘distinguishable on the records of the Secretary of State’. That means your chosen name can’t be the same as (or very similar to) existing entity names.
A somewhat unique aspect of Georgia LLC names is that they must not exceed 80 characters, including space and punctuation. You can read more about the naming standards on the SOS website.
Georgia LLC Name Designators
The name of your LLC must end with a proper designator. This is usually “Limited Liability Company” or its accepted variations. Common designators are:
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Company
Additionally, it is allowed to abbreviate Limited to Ltd. and Company to Co. So, designators like Ltd. Co., Limited Liability Co., and similar variations are acceptable.
Name Reservations For Your LLC In Georgia (Optional)
A name reservation enables you to simply reserve a name for your company without registering your LLC. Georgia allows name reservation to be valid for 30 days, however, it cannot be renewed.
You can include three names in your reservation request, arranged by priority. The state will check those names against records, and reserve the first available name. In case your first choice isn’t available, they’ll move to the second, and so on. Only one name will be reserved.
Georgia allows filing name reservations online or through mail. Filing online requires a fee of $25 and is a very convenient and quick option. To file through mail, you’ll need to fill the form and include a fee of $35. This one’s more expensive because there’s a $10 service charge for filing this request through paper.
Using A Fictitious Name For Your Business (Optional)
Using a fictitious name comes into play only once your LLC has been registered. A fictitious name may be used as a way to do business without using the registered name of your LLC. As such, your LLC will be doing business as (DBA) the fictitious name.
To use a fictitious name in Georgia, you’ll have to register the name with the Clerk of the Superior Court of the county where your LLC’s principal office is located.
2. Appoint A Registered Agent
Every Georgia LLC must have a registered agent. This is required for the ‘service of process’. That means, the registered agent will receive important communication on behalf of your LLC. These can be legal documents, lawsuits, subpoenas, summons, etc.
A registered agent must be a resident of Georgia with a street address in the state. Using a PO Box is not allowed. An entity (like another LLC) may function as the registered agent of an LLC. However, an LLC can’t be its own registered agent.
Many people choose a commercial registered agent for convenience as well as privacy. Having a commercial registered agent can make things easier. Additionally, since the details of the registered agent are included in public records, using a commercial agent adds a layer of privacy.
Anyways, the primary requirement is that the registered agent is a legal resident of Georgia with a valid street address. As long as this condition is met, you can appoint yourself, friends/family, or a commercial agent for the role.
3. Articles Of Organization For Georgia LLC And Transmittal Form
Setting up an LLC in Georgia requires filing the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. The required forms are Form CD 030 (Articles of Organization) and Form CD 231 (Transmittal Information Form).
It isn’t mandatory to use Form CD 030. You can simply type the necessary information on a white 8.5×11 inch paper. This information must include:
- The name of your LLC.
- Name and signature of organizer, member, manager, or an attorney-in-fact.
Articles of Organization must be accompanied by the Transmittal Information Form, which includes more information like the registered agent, registered office, principal office mailing address, and more.
The ways to file these forms:
- Via mail
Filing the form online is the most convenient option. It’s also quicker and easier to manage. Filing the Articles of Organization online requires a $100 filing fee, which can be paid through Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover cards. Using Georgia’s ecorp system may require users to register for a (free) account to manage their transactions.
If you choose to file via mail, remember to include an extra copy of the Articles of Organization. This method requires a $110 filing fee (includes $10 paper filing service charge). This fee is payable to the Secretary of State. The mailing address for the form is:
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE
Suite 313, West Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334
Georgia LLC Approval Times
Once you’ve filed the Articles of Organization, you can expect approval depending on the method of submission. Generally, the following apply:
- Online submissions are approved within 7 business days.
- Forms filed by mail are approved within 12-15 business days.
As soon as the Articles of Organization Georgia are approved, your LLC comes into existence (assuming you’ve not requested a different effective date). On approval, you’ll receive a Certificate of Organization with the state seal and a stamped and approved copy of your Articles of Organization.
If you filed via mail, these documents will be sent via mail. In case you filed online, the documents are sent through email.
Expedited services are available to those who wish to speed up the approval timing when they apply for LLC in Georgia.
When filing online, the expedited services are:
- $100 for 2-day processing.
- $250 for same-day processing.
If filing via mail, expedited services are available at $100 for 2-day processing.
Please keep in mind, the expedited services are charged extra over the required fee for filing the Articles of Organization.
4. Create An Operating Agreement For Your LLC
An Operating Agreement is an ‘internal document’ for your Georgia LLC. It doesn’t have to be filed with any government agency. Nevertheless, it is a good practice to have an operating agreement as it displays that your LLC is being run properly.
Conventionally, an operating agreement provides a roadmap for the functioning of your LLC. This includes approach to taxation, distribution of profits/losses amongst members, ownership, and similar information.
While single-member LLCs may feel no need for such an agreement, creating one is still recommended.
5. Get A Federal Tax ID (EIN)
You should register for a Federal Tax ID only after the approval of the Articles of Organization. To get the EIN (Employer Identification Number), it’s necessary to file a form with the IRS. There is no filing fee for this form.
It is possible to file for the EIN Online. That’s the most convenient and fastest way. However, there are situations where it may not be possible to file online. In such cases, you’ll need to file Form SS-4. It’s possible to file this form via mail or fax.
In many cases, it may not be necessary to get an EIN. But it’s important to keep in mind that this serves something as an SSN for your LLC. Having an EIN is necessary for several aspects of running a business.
6. Georgia LLC Annual Registration
Every LLC in Georgia must file an Annual Registration (Annual Report). Filing for this registration is mandatory every year after the year of the LLC’s registration.
Annual Registration must be completed before April 1 every year. You will need to pay a filing fee of $50 when you submit this report. In case of delay in filing, the state will add a penalty of $25. Failure to submit the Annual Registration can result in the offending LLC getting dissolved.
The easiest way to file the Annual Report is online through the ecorp portal. It’s very quick if you don’t need to make changes to the existing information of your LLC. In case changes are needed, you can simply update the records when filing the registration.
7. Permits, Licenses, And Taxation
If you’re not well-versed with taxation requirements, it is worthwhile to consider hiring an accountant and/or lawyer for this purpose. Taxation can be complex and it is important to consider local, state, and federal taxes.
Depending on the specific business and location of your LLC, you may need to consider local licenses, permits, and taxes. These are dependent on the city, town, or county where your LLC is running its business.
Consider registering with the Georgia Department of Revenue. It’s important to stay up-to-date and compliant with the state’s taxation policies related to your industry.
For federal taxes, LLCs are usually treated as pass-through taxation. That means your profits/losses can be submitted along with your personal returns. Some LLCs find that taxation as a corporation is more efficient, and may choose to take that route.
This is why tax planning is important and deserves considerable attention.