You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Georgia LLC, and you’re mentally prepared to make it happen. But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Articles of Organization.
With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Articles of Organization is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in Georgia. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Georgia LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.
But before you dive into the Articles of Organization, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.
Quick Note: If you’d like to have an online service file the Articles of Organization for you or simply need to save time, hire an LLC formation service. Two popular options are LegalZoom and ZenBusiness.
Choosing an LLC Name
Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Articles of Organization, and if the Secretary of State deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.
You may have come up with a perfect, creative name, but to be accepted by the Secretary of State, it must contain a term that signifies its business type, like “limited liability company,” “L.L.C.,” or “LLC,” and it cannot include any of the restricted words found here without permission from the designated department or office. On top of all that, your name must be distinguishable from every other name on record with the Secretary of State. You can perform a name search to find out if yours is already in use.
Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Articles of Organization to automatically register it. In the event that you’re not quite ready to file an LLC, you can place a 30-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.
Choosing a Georgia Registered Agent
A registered agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. Registered agent information is a mandatory part of the LLC formation documents; without it, your Articles of Organization will not be accepted, so touch base with your agent beforehand to get their consent and make any necessary arrangements.
Your registered agent will fall into one of two pools: individuals or business entities. If you choose an individual, that person must be a Georgia resident with a physical address in the state. And if you go with a business entity, like a registered agent service, it must be authorized to do business in the state.
Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your registered agent in the future.
Preparing to File Your Georgia Articles of Organization
Now for the main event: the Articles of Organization. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in Georgia.
Considering Articles of Organization’s immense importance in the LLC formation process, the documents involved are surprisingly short and simple. There are two forms involved for paper filings – the Transmittal Information Form and the Articles of Organization application – and if you gather the information for both beforehand, you’ll have them filed in no time.
Let’s start with the Articles of Organization application, which only requires three things:
- The LLC name
- The date
- A name and signature from an organizer, member, manager, or attorney-in-fact
Now for the Transmittal Information Form. Here’s what it requires:
- Name reservation number (if applicable)
- LLC name
- Name, mailing address, email address, and phone number of the filer
- Principal office mailing address
- Registered agent name, mailing address, and email address
- Names and addresses for each organizer
The third part of this filing isn’t a document, but a payment. The Articles of Organization carries a $100 fee, payable by check or credit card.
Standard processing time is 5-7 business days, although wait times can be longer during peak filing periods, usually December through January and the end of each subsequent quarter: March, June, and September. Need a faster turnaround? You can request two-day expedited processing for an additional $100 and same-day processing for $250.
Incomplete filings will be returned to the applicant with an explanation of which items are missing. If the application is corrected and returned within 30 days, the initial date will be used as the date of formation. Deficient filing still pending 60 days after the notice will be designated abandoned.
Gathered your information? Arranged your payment? It’s time to file, and you’ve got three different routes to complete the process. You can file online, by mail, or in person, and each option is equally valid.
Head over to the Secretary of State’s online filing system and select “Online Services.” You will need to create an account before proceeding to your filing. Once you’re logged in, click “Create and Register a Business” and you’ll be off and running.
Download the Articles of Organization and Transmittal Information Form and complete them in their entirety. Print each form on white, letter-sized paper, then mail two copies of the Articles of Organization, one copy of the Transmittal Information Form, and your payment to:
Office of Secretary of State Corporations Division
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE
Suite 313 West Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334
If you live in Atlanta, you may hand-deliver your materials to the same address instead, if you’d like.
No matter which method you use, the state will send you a Certificate of Organization by mail after your filing has been accepted.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Georgia), but what if your business is expanding to Georgia from another state? In this case, forget about filing the Articles of Organization, as it’s not the form you need.
Any LLC that was formed in another state and now wants to do business in Georgia must first foreign qualify. You can do so by filing an Application for Certificate of Authority either online or by submitting a paper form. You might be itching to start conducting business, but resist the urge until your LLC has foreign qualified! If it’s caught operating without authority, you could be in line for some serious fines and penalties.
After you’ve successfully foreign qualified and been authorized by the state, go ahead and kick off your business activities in Georgia.
Want Help Filing Your Articles of Organization?
Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.
The good news is that you don’t need to file the Articles of Organization yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.
There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.
While each service has optional upgrades and perks packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the Georgia Secretary of State. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization has been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.
There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents (like Annual Registrations), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.
Which is the Best LLC Service?
All you need to do now is research every service extensively and make side-by-side comparisons for each option. Easy, right? Just kidding – we did all of that for you.
And from our meticulous research of reviewing and ranking the top LLC services, we’ve drawn the conclusion that IncFile and Northwest are your best overall options.
They might not have the brand recognition of LegalZoom, the industry giant, but both have amazing customer support, affordable prices, and include a year of registered agent service.