- To run a business in Georgia, you need an operating license — also known as a business tax certificate or occupation tax certificate — issued by the city or county in which your business resides.
- Georgia does not require a state-regulated general business license other than a valid business tax certificate issued by your city or county for most businesses to operate.
- However, some industries require professional licenses to operate in Georgia.
- If you’re opening a new business, such as a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, partnership, or other business in Georgia, follow these tips to get a Georgia business license.
What Are the Pros to Starting a Business in Georgia?
Starting a small business in Georgia can be a great idea for a number of reasons.
- Inexpensive filing fees compared to other states.
- Fully online filing experience makes it easy to create an LLC or other business.
- No legal requirement for an operating agreement when filing an LLC (although you should probably have one).
- Large cities like Atlanta, Augusta, and Columbus offer both access to a wide customer base and potential employees
- No state requirement for a general business license (although some businesses will require special licenses or permits from the state or federal government to operate)
How Much Does a Business License Cost in Georgia?
The cost of a Georgia business license will depend on what type of business you run, as well as where your primary place of business is. Although Georgia does not have a state requirement for a general business license, each locality (city or county) issues operating licenses for businesses within their jurisdictions.
Beyond this city- or county-issued license to operate, you may need licenses for the following:
- Occupational tax certificate
- Building permits or zoning permits
- Alcohol license
- Food sales license
- Sales and use tax registration
- Professional license (e.g. lawyer, medical doctor, architect, etc.)
- Educational certification (e.g. continuing education for nurses, CPAs, etc.)
Check with your local government or business license office to find out specific fees.
What Are the Requirements to Get a Business License in Georgia?
The requirements to get a business license in Georgia depend on which county or city you plan to operate in. Business owners can find out more about the business license application in their particular municipality or county by contacting the Georgia Chamber of Commerce or by finding their local chamber of commerce.
As an example, to apply for a new business license, the City of Atlanta application requires:
- Notarized E-Verify affidavit
- Notarized SAVE affidavit
- Applicant’s government-issued photo ID
- Regulatory permits
Some businesses that choose to form under a certain business structure are required to register with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Corporations Division — including LLCs, corporations, and limited partnerships. However, filing with the Corporations Division does not mean that all licensing requirements are met. You may need a state license, federal license, professional license, or educational license. You can find additional information at the Georgia Secretary of State website.
You can register your new business at the Georgia Department of Revenue’s Georgia Tax Center website once you have your federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. They give you a state identification number as well.
How Long Does It Take to Process a Business License in Georgia?
Once you have paid the appropriate application fees, you should generally receive your business license within 30 days. The timeline will depend on the city or county where you apply.
Why a Business License Is Essential for Business Loans
Before you apply for small business loans, it’s important to make sure that you have the appropriate business licenses and permits in place. Lenders will want to confirm you’re following all local regulations and requirements before giving you a loan. Not having your business licenses in order can disqualify you quickly.
Why a Business License Is Essential for Business Credit
If you’re looking for business credit cards or a business line of credit, it’s also important to have your business licenses and permits in order. Not only is it illegal for you to operate without the proper license (meaning you could be arrested or your business could be shut down), but it can affect your business credit. Business credit bureaus will probably also confirm that you have all the appropriate licenses in place before they’ll set up your business profile.
Any potential lender will also try to ensure that you’re likely to pay back your loan, which they’ll do by checking your business credit. Find out how to establish business credit using our guide by Nav’s experts.
How to Maintain Your Georgia Licensing
Because general business licenses are issued by the municipality or county in which you live, you’ll have to check with your local issuing office to see how to maintain your business license in Georgia. In general, you should expect to file for licenses or permits annually and be prepared to pay a fee to do so.
Looking to grow your Georgia business? Nav can help you find the financing you need and are most likely to qualify for. Sign up with Nav to see your options.
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