You have big plans, but before your business can officially take off, you’ll need to make a bit of an investment.
And we’re not talking about renting office space or paying employees — before you sell a single product, there are startup costs associated with launching an LLC in Georgia.
Make sure that you consider all the possible costs associated with starting an LLC. To help you out, we’ve compiled the most common Georgia startup fees here.
Bare Minimum Cost to Start an LLC in Georgia
Optional: LLC Name Reservation Fee
- $25 for online forms, $35 for paper filings
Optional: LLC Formation Service
- $39 for an LLC service like ZenBusiness and $79 for LegalZoom
Required: Articles of Organization Fee
- $100 for online or $110 for mailed forms with optional expedited service ($100 for two-day and $250 for same-day)
Required: Initial Report Fee
- $50 to file online
Recommended ✔If you want to make sure your LLC is formed correctly, hire an LLC service. Below are the top two that will take care of all the legal paperwork:
If getting the most value out of an LLC service is your priority, choose ZenBusiness. They charge one of the lowest rates online and include all the most important features when starting a business. Read Review. If you're on a strict budget and prefer using the cheapest LLC service, choose IncFile. They will form an LLC for free (plus state filing fee) and give you great features along the way. Read Review.
If getting the most value out of an LLC service is your priority, choose ZenBusiness. They charge one of the lowest rates online and include all the most important features when starting a business. Read Review.
If you're on a strict budget and prefer using the cheapest LLC service, choose IncFile. They will form an LLC for free (plus state filing fee) and give you great features along the way. Read Review.
Overall Georgia LLC Formation Costs
LLC Name Reservation Fee
Reserving a business name in Georgia is completely optional. It can help if you have a great name that you think someone else might take, but it’s not a mandatory part of LLC formation. For a fee of $25, the Secretary of State will give you a 30-day hold on your name, during which no one else can use or reserve it. But if you’re ready to start your LLC right away, filing the Articles of Organization will lock in your name, so you can skip the name reservation step.
To clarify, most states don’t require name reservations, and they’re rarely necessary. If you’re concerned about someone else registering the name you want, you could opt to simply form your LLC instead of reserving the name.
Business Domain Name & Website
To properly brand your business, you’ll want to acquire the domain name so nobody else can use it. Search for and find the perfect one through GoDaddy for just $4.99.
Articles of Organization Fee
This is the big one, the most important form that you’ll file to start your Georgia LLC. You can’t officially register your business or start operating without first filing the Articles of Organization, but it’s going to cost you $100. If you’re itching to start your business, you can expedite the process for an additional $100 (two-day service) or $250 (same-day service). What’s nice is that this is the only time you’ll need to file the Articles of Organization — unless you start another LLC — so as long as it’s accepted, you won’t have to pay this fee again.
To file your Articles of Organization, you’ll need to inform the state of your LLC’s official business name, the effective date of your LLC formation, the date, your name, your title, and your signature.
If you would rather get some help for this step, you’re in luck! There are plenty of reputable LLC formation services that will prepare and file your Articles of Organization on your behalf. You have plenty of options for this service, but we prefer ZenBusiness. They offer great low rates and well-rounded services, and with our exclusive discount code, you can get 20% off!
Georgia LLC Formation Service
Starting an LLC can be a complicated and time-consuming process. If you want to spend less time on paperwork and more time planning your business, you might opt for an LLC service. These services take care of the registration process for you, so you don’t have to spend the time on research, paperwork, and filings.
Most of these services (like ZenBusiness or IncFile) offer basic LLC formation service like Articles of Organization filing, tax consultations, and phone/email support for a flat rate, with options to pay more for premium packages with premium services like Employer Identification Numbers, operating agreements, and expedited filing.
There are many different companies offering LLC formation services these days, and it can be tricky to tell which one is the right choice for your needs. We think ZenBusiness and IncFile are the two best LLC formation companies, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either of them to our families and friends.
Registered Agent Service
Appointing a registered agent is an important part of your LLC formation process. Your registered agent is responsible for handling sensitive legal and tax documents and keeping your business compliant with Georgia business law. In short, you need an agent you can trust.
While you can be the registered agent for your own LLC, this puts pressure on you to keep up with business filings and potential legal disputes. Sometimes it’s better to hand off that responsibility to a professional. A registered agent service ensures that your annual reports and other forms are filed efficiently, saving you from the penalties of delinquent filings and the stress of having to do it yourself.
Not all registered agent services are equal, so you’ll need to be careful in choosing one. Fortunately, we’ve done some research for you, and we recommend Northwest Registered Agent. In addition to registered agent services, Northwest also handles LLC formation — and they’ll include a registered agent free for one year when you form your business with them. We think they’re the most reliable choice, but if you’d like to evaluate all your options, check out our Best Registered Agent Services guide.
If you have questions or concerns about the LLC formation process or if it’s the best business structure for you, sometimes it’s best not to take chances and consult an attorney. They’re not cheap, but they can provide essential business advice, professional filing assistance, and peace of mind.
Some attorneys offer free consultations (usually 30-60 minutes) but will charge by the hour after that. On average, business attorneys charge between $150-350 per hour. Some will offer a flat rate for setting up an LLC, which can range from $500-2,000.
Cost variations depend on the experience and location of the lawyer, and with the number of business lawyers out there, the decision can be overwhelming. But sites like Avvo provide attorney databases so you can find Georgia business lawyer rates, specialties, locations, and more, all in one place. Using a site like this will help ensure that you find the right fit for your LLC.
If you don’t want to go digging for your own attorney, we compiled the following list of highly rated business lawyers in Georgia. All of these attorneys are primarily focused on the business world, they all receive five-star ratings from clients, and they all have excellent Avvo ratings.
Foreign Qualification Fee
This only applies if your LLC was formed in another state and is now expanding into Georgia. Does this describe your business? If so, you need to file an “Application for Certificate of Authority” instead of the Articles of Organization.
All foreign business entities are required to foreign qualify in Georgia, or they could incur some pretty severe penalties. Avoid them by filing the Application for Authority online or by mail, which will set you back $225. It’s pricier than the Articles of Organization but similar in the respect that they’re both one-time filings. So, if your application is accepted, you won’t need to foreign qualify again.
LLC Annual Fees
The Georgia Secretary of State keeps their business records current and accurate by requiring all entities to file annual registrations between Jan. 1 and Apr. 1. Each of these registrations costs $50, so you can plan on paying that fee every year. Plus, you must file an initial registration within the first 90 days of registering your LLC. You can file your annual registrations on the Corporations Division eCorp page.
To file your registrations, you’ll need to include the following information: your LLC’s official business name, your name, your LLC’s email address, the name and address of your registered agent, and your LLC’s principal business address.
For more info on annual reports for Georgia LLCs, check out our full article on this topic!
By default, LLCs are considered “pass-through” entities by the federal government, meaning that they don’t file separate corporate tax returns. Additionally, Georgia doesn’t require a “franchise” or “privilege” tax from business entities. However, there are certain circumstances that would require your LLC to pay taxes.
For example, if you sell merchandise, you will owe a sales tax; if you purchase merchandise from out of state, you will owe a use tax; and if you maintain employees, you may have to pay withholding and unemployment taxes.
The only time that your LLC would have to file a corporate tax return is if you’ve set it up to be taxed like a corporation. In that case, the LLC would pay the 6% corporate income tax.
What if I Don’t Pay?
Looking at all these fees, you might be thinking: how can I pay less? While you might be tempted to look for loopholes or find a way around them, this could cause you bigger problems in the future.
Failure to file your annual registrations, maintain your registered agent, pay any necessary taxes, or keep up with other filings/fees can result in a status of “noncompliant.” For example, if you don’t file your annual registration on time, your LLC is considered noncompliant and will receive a notice of administrative dissolution. If you don’t file the registration and resolve any other outstanding forms/fees, the state will dissolve your LLC.
Plus, noncompliant businesses cannot obtain a Certificate of Existence from the Secretary of State. A Certificate of Existence is required for foreign qualifying in many states, applying for business loans, and other business transactions.
Planning Your Expenses
By now, your budget spreadsheet might be looking a little crowded, but have no fear! Most of these are one-time fees that you won’t have to worry about again. Plus, with all these on the books, there won’t be any surprise costs when you register an LLC in Georgia.
Soon, you’ll have these fees behind you and you’ll be forging ahead, growing your business and earning profits. As you do, make sure to keep up with the few recurring fees — like annual registrations and registered agent updates — so your business doesn’t fall out of good standing.
Key Steps for Starting a Georgia LLC
- The first step to forming a Georgia LLC is to come up with a good name for your business. You’ll want to make sure the name you want is still available and hasn’t already been claimed by another business, so you’ll need to search the state’s business database to verify its availability.
- Next, you’ll need to choose your registered agent. While you can legally serve as your own registered agent in Georgia, this role can actually be more of a hassle than you might expect. That’s why we always recommend hiring a reputable registered agent service that can handle the responsibility of this position on your behalf.
- The third step involves the preparation and filing of your Articles of Organization. You’ll need to fill out the paperwork and pay a $100 fee. Once the state processes this document, your LLC will be officially open for business!
- That’s not the end of the road for the startup process though, as you’ll also need to create an operating agreement for your LLC. There is no legal requirement for Georgia LLCs to have written operating agreements, but it’s still an extremely important element of any LLC. The operating agreement is an internal document that outlines how your LLC will operate, and there are several aspects of this document that can prevent messy ownership disputes down the line.
- You will also need to acquire a federal tax ID number (also known as an EIN, or employer identification number). This is essentially a Social Security number for your business, as it is a nine-digit code used to file taxes, hire employees, open business banking accounts, and more.
- Next, you’ll need to register for any relevant taxes with the Georgia Department of Revenue, and also obtain all licenses and permits that apply to your business type. Keep in mind that, depending on the nature of your business, you might require licenses from the federal, state, county, and municipal governments.
Once you’ve finished all of these steps, you’re ready to operate a compliant business entity with the state of Georgia!
Key Steps for Maintaining a Georgia LLC
After you’ve completed all of the items in the previous section, you’ll need to focus on maintaining your LLC. The first step in this process is to open a business bank account. This will help you keep your business and personal expenses entirely separate, and it will also help immensely with your accounting and taxation responsibilities.
You should also keep detailed records of every financial transaction that takes place with your LLC. This means maintaining a file of invoices for every purchase and sale you make, along with information regarding your employees or contractors and the work they perform for your business.
As we already mentioned, annual registrations are a key component of LLC maintenance in this state, and there are harsh financial penalties for delinquent registrations. Additionally, you might want to hold an annual meeting to discuss goals and priorities for your LLC, although this is an optional step.
The Top 3 Georgia LLC Services
If you want to hire a reputable LLC formation service to handle the heavy lifting on your behalf, these are the three companies we trust and rely on the most.
- ZenBusiness ($39) – ZenBusiness offers a well-rounded LLC formation package at a great low rate. Their standard LLC package includes a full year of registered agent service, an accounting assessment, and a customizable operating agreement. ZenBusiness also receives stellar customer feedback.
- IncFile (FREE) – That’s not a typo! IncFile really does form LLCs for free. Even better, they include 12 months of registered agent service in their free package. IncFile has a ton of experience and more than 500,000 satisfied customers, so they’re always a reliable choice.
- Northwest Registered Agent ($225) – Northwest offers a bit more of a premium service, but if you have the money, we think it’s worth it. Like ZenBusiness and IncFile, Northwest also includes a year of registered agent service with the purchase of any LLC formation package. They also offer the best customer support in this industry, with knowledgeable representatives who are familiar with the details of business formation processes in every state.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we wrap things up, let’s take a look at some of the most common questions we hear from readers regarding the LLC formation process in Georgia.
What are the state business tax rates in Georgia?
If your LLC is taxed like a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you’ll need to pay taxes on your business income at the state’s personal income tax rates (between 1% and 5.375%, depending on your income level). If your LLC is taxed like a corporation, you’re required to pay Georgia’s 6% corporate income tax on your business revenue.
How quickly does Georgia process LLC formations?
Georgia has different turnaround times depending on how you form your LLC. For online registrations, the process typically takes seven business days. Mailed filings usually take roughly 15 business days, while hand-delivered documents have variable turnaround times, according to the Secretary of State.
You can expedite your order for $100, which speeds things up to two business days. For an extra $250, they will process your formation the same day you file it, as long as you submit your documents before noon on a weekday.
How many small businesses are there in Georgia today?
The state of Georgia is home to more than 1 million small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that Georgia is a great place to own and operate a small business.
What are the top small business resources and websites in Georgia?
The University of Georgia chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start, as they offer a wide variety of tools and resources for Georgia LLCs. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Georgia District Office is another valuable resource, and the state’s small business resource page also has plenty of good info.
Should I form my LLC in Georgia, or choose a state like Delaware or Wyoming?
Some people like to form their LLCs in states with favorable legal settings. For instance, Delaware is often seen as the most business-friendly state, as it has an entire court system that’s dedicated solely to business matters. As for Wyoming, this state has some of the most generous anonymity laws for LLC ownership.
However, for most people, your best option is to simply form your business in your home state. Forming in a different state can be a tremendous hassle, and it can add some unnecessary complexity to tax issues as well.