How to Start a Business in Georgia:
Georgia has excellent online portals to make registering a business and registering for taxes quick and easy. The fees for registering a business are low and consistent for all business types, and there is a one-stop portal for applying for any permits you may need.
Form your business.
Review Georgia formation options.
Georgia offers 5 ways of forming your business. Review these closely and pick the one that fits your business best.
Name your business.
When you have a business name in mind, your first step should be to search this name in the Georgia business database. You can change your search options to include exact matches, names with some of your keywords, or names that start with your keywords.
If you need help finding a business name, be sure to check out NameSnack's free business name generator.
Also search the United States Patent and Trademark Office's trademark database to see if your name idea has been trademarked.
Log in or create an account with the Secretary of State to access online services where you can reserve a business name.
Provide three name ideas for consideration, in order of your preference.
Pay a $25 reservation fee to reserve your name idea for 30 days.
Get an Employer Identification Number.
Nearly all businesses will need to register for federal taxes by applying for an Employer Identification Number.
Register your business in Georgia.
Businesses can be registered online with the Secretary of State. Sole proprietorships do not need to register in Georgia.
Log in and select "create or register a business."
Create a new domestic business.
Choose which type of business you would like to start.
Pay the $100 filing fee.
Obtain necessary permits and licenses.
When registering your business, you will receive a general business license. You may also need industry-specific licenses, which you can apply for online.
Individual professionals like nurses or accountants can apply for a "person" license account.
Businesses like barbershops and salons can apply for a business license account.
Register your business for taxes.
Register for sales and use tax.
Businesses that sell goods or render certain services will need to file for sales and use taxes. The Department of Revenue has outlined which businesses need to pay sales and use tax.
Register for sale and use tax with the Georgia Tax Center (GTC).
After registering, you can file for sales and use tax online.
Register for withholding tax.
Employers need to withhold tax from employee wages and pay it to the state.
Register for withholding tax with the Georgia Tax Center (GTC).
Once you have registered for withholding tax, you will receive a notice with information about which forms to file and how frequently they need to be filed.
Hire employees and report them to the state.
Have minors obtain a work permit.
If you employ a minor under the age of 16, they are required to have a work permit issued by their school.
Provide employees with healthcare coverage.
Under Georgia law, employers with more than 20 employees that offer healthcare plans are required to provide healthcare coverage for current and former employees if their healthcare plan is lost. This can be due to unemployment, reduced hours, or qualifying for Medicare.
Provide workers' compensation coverage.
Employers with three or more employees are required to provide workers' compensation coverage. This will cover an employee's medical bills in the event of a workplace injury.
Establish a drug-free workplace program.
Having a written drug-free workplace policy and drug-testing policies will qualify you for a discount on your workers' compensation policy.
Have employees complete form I-9.
Form I-9 verifies that an employee is allowed to work in the U.S. Employers keep this form on record instead of submitting it.
Display workplace posters.
The Department of Labor provides PDF versions of the posters you need to display. These include the:
- Unemployment Insurance for Employees poster.
- Unemployment Insurance for Employees Spanish poster.
- Employer Vacation poster.
- Employer Vacation Spanish poster.
- Equal Pay for Equal Work Act poster.
- Equal Pay for Equal Work Act Spanish poster.
- US DOL Wage and Hour Division COVID-19 posters.
Georgia Business Types:
A corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners (shareholders). The shareholders elect a board to make major decisions for the company, and the board hires officers to run the everyday operations of the business. Shareholders, board members, and officers have no personal liability for debts.
Corporations are subject to double taxation — the business pays income tax and shareholders pay tax on dividends from the corporation. S corporations are not double taxed; only shareholders are taxed according to their share percentage.
2. General Partnership.
A general partnership exists when two or more partners intend to start a business for profit. This entity does not need to register with the state, and co-owners are liable for all debt incurred by the business. While no formal documentation is required to start a general partnership, it is advised that a partnership agreement is drawn up to specify the roles of each partner.
Both partners are personally liable for the business. The actions of one partner leading to debts or liabilities are also incurred by the other partner(s). Each partner pays individual taxes for their share of profits and deductions, rather than corporate income tax.
3. Limited Partnership.
A limited partnership consists of general partners and limited partners. Limited partners can invest capital in the business but take no personal liability for debts. In Georgia, limited partners can manage the business, which is not the case in most other states. This makes Georgia an attractive state for those wanting to start a limited partnership.
In Georgia, limited partnerships have to register with the Secretary of State. Limited partners pay individual tax based on their distributive share of the profits. Limited partnerships can also elect to be taxed as corporations.
4. Limited Liability Company (LLC).
An LLC can be considered a cross between a corporation and a partnership because owners (members) have no personal liability and can elect to have members taxed as individuals. Members can either manage the business themselves, elect a few members to run the business, or hire a manager to run the business.
Members have no personal liability except for their investment in the business. LLCs are taxed as partnerships unless they elect to be taxed as corporations.
5. Sole Proprietorship.
A sole proprietorship consists of one person who, for legal purposes, is considered the same entity as the business. A sole proprietorship needs to register in the county that it operates in if a trade name is being used.
All debts incurred by the owner are the liability of the owner. The sole proprietorship's owner files individual tax returns rather than corporate income tax. Sole proprietorships are required to have a general business license.
How much does it cost to register a business in Georgia?
There is a $100 filing fee when registering a business in Georgia.
What permits do I need to start a business in Georgia?
You need a general business license to operate, but you may also need additional permits and licenses depending on your industry. You can register for various business licenses online.
Is Georgia a good place to start a business?
Yes. One attractive feature is that Georgia is one of few states to allow limited partners to manage their business. All business registrations can be done online, making it easy for any business owner to file the correct documents.
How do I obtain a business license in Georgia?
Your local chamber of commerce or development authority can give you advice on business licensing in your area. You can also visit Georgia's SOS First Stop Business Information Center for more details.
What are the top 10 places to start a business in Georgia?
- Garden City.
How much does it cost to start a business in Georgia?
To start off with, it will cost your business $100 to create a business entity and $25 to reserve your business name.