Georgia Articles of Organization

You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, and 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.

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.

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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

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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 the 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 effective filing 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:

  • Your business email address
  • 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
  • Signature of your LLC’s authorized person

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. If you choose to file on a hard copy rather than online, you’ll need to add the state’s $10 paper filing surcharge.

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 filings that are still pending 60 days after the notice will be designated as abandoned.

Filing Options

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.

 Online

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.

By Mail

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

In Person

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 your filed Articles 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 feature 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.

Important Post-Formation Compliance Issues

Once you’ve successfully filed your Articles of Organization, your LLC is an official business entity in the state of Georgia. However, this doesn’t mean that your responsibilities have come to an end. There are several other steps you’ll need to take if you want to operate a compliant LLC for years to come.

Acquire a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

While an EIN isn’t a requirement for Georgia LLCs, we strongly recommend that every entrepreneur obtains one. An EIN enables your LLC to hire employees, open business bank accounts, file taxes, and take care of several other important aspects of LLC maintenance. Even if you operate a single-member LLC with no employees, you should still have an EIN for your business.

Set Up a Financial Infrastructure

One other crucial step is to solidify the financial aspects of your LLC, first by opening a business bank account. You must have separate bank accounts for your personal use and for business purposes, as this will help you keep your personal and business assets separate, a vitally important consideration for any entrepreneur. If you commingle these assets, you leave yourself wide open for lawsuits, as it would be easy for someone to claim that your business is simply an extension of your own personality and not a separate entity from you as a person.

The other portion of this step is to set up an accounting system. This can either mean that you hire an accountant to take care of your LLC’s bookkeeping, or you could acquire high-quality accounting software like QuickBooks. Either way, you need a reliable means of keeping detailed records for each financial transaction your LLC executes. This is another vital part of keeping your personal and business assets separated, and it will also be enormously helpful come tax time.

Acquire Licenses and Permits

The next step involves obtaining any industry-specific licenses and permits your LLC may need to operate in compliance with state laws. Depending on the nature of your LLC’s business, you may require several permits or you may be able to operate your LLC without any state-level licenses.

Thankfully, Georgia makes it very easy to figure out your business’ licensing needs. All you need to do is visit the state’s business licensing page and you’ll find the license and permit applications you require. Make sure to check with your county and locality as well, as there may also be licensing requirements for your business on these levels.

Obtain Business Insurance

This step isn’t a requirement, but it is a strong recommendation. The exact insurance policies your business needs will vary based on the type of products and services you offer, but most LLCs should at least have a general liability insurance policy to protect against common perils like slip-and-fall accidents. In some industries, you might need several different insurance policies to cover all of your financial bases, so do your research ahead of time to determine which types of insurance you should purchase.

File Your Annual Registrations

Each year, every LLC in Georgia must file an annual registration. This report includes some basic information about your business and keeps the state updated regarding any important changes to your LLC’s structure. The information you’ll need to file this report typically includes your LLC’s registered agent name and address, principal office address, business email address, authorizer name and title, and payment info.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Filing the Georgia LLC Articles of Organization

How long does it take Georgia to form an LLC?

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.

Should I file my own Articles of Organization, hire an attorney, or use an online service?

This question largely comes down to personal preferences, but we do have some general insights. The DIY route can be quite a bit of work, as you’ll need to complete each step of the formation process on your own with no assistance. As for hiring an attorney, this can be prohibitively expensive for new businesses, as a lawyer can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to form your LLC.

You can think of business services companies as a middle ground between these options. While most of these companies charge a fee to form your LLC, that fee will be significantly less expensive than an attorney’s fee. At the same time, you still aren’t going it alone. Instead, you have an experienced professional guiding you through the entire process.

What does Georgia require for LLC formations other than the Articles of Organization?

Unlike some states, Georgia doesn’t require any related filings other than your formation articles. Corporations in this state must publish proof of their incorporation in local newspapers, but LLCs are exempt from this requirement.

However, we still strongly recommend obtaining a federal tax ID number (EIN). An EIN allows your LLC to file taxes, hire employees, open business bank accounts, and more. Every LLC should have one, whether your state requires it or not.

How many small businesses are there in Georgia?

Today, Georgia has more than 1.1 million small businesses. Clearly, entrepreneurs in many different fields find Georgia to be a great place to own and operate a business entity.

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