How to Incorporate a Business in Georgia
Your business is more than a name. It needs a legal structure that meets IRS guidelines. This article outlines the benefits of incorporating your business.
Incorporating a Business Entity in Georgia
Starting a business is an exciting endeavor. As you take on this new enterprise, it’s important to follow all regulations and legal processes and set yourself up for future success.
One of the first steps you will likely want to take is incorporating your company. To incorporate your business in Georgia, you need to file articles of incorporation with the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State.
Incorporation gives a business several privileges and makes it an independent business entity. Moreover, after filing articles of incorporation, the business will be able to benefit from any applicable loans, tax credits, deductions, and much more.
There are a number of different types of company formations to choose from, including business corporations, nonprofit corporations, and limited liability companies (otherwise known as LLCs).
Read on to learn more about the Georgia corporation registration process and what type of entity may be right for you.
What are the Steps to Incorporate in Georgia?
Incorporation in Georgia is a fairly simple process comprised of the following steps. Each step requires proper attention and time, as you are setting the future foundation of your venture.
Corporate Name Selection
First, you need to choose a name for your business that is unique and not used by any other firm in Georgia. Here are some important points you need to consider while finalizing the corporate name.
What are the Requirements for a Corporate Name?
- It must be not more than 80 characters long, including spaces and punctuations.
- It must end in one of the following abbreviations, LLC, Inc, Co, or Ltd.
- It is helpful if the name implies the main purpose of the organization
- The name should be distinguishable from the names of other registered business entities.
You may reserve a name for 30 days in the registry by applying on the Georgia Corporations Division website.
Preparation and Filing the Articles of Incorporation
To legally create your corporation, you need to file articles with the Georgia Secretary of State of Division. You can submit the articles online or mail them to the secretary’s office.
If you are filing them by mail, you need to create your articles on 8.5″ x 11″ paper following the filing procedures guide, one of the Georgia Business Resources provided by the state’s Corporations Divisions. You must include a transmittal information form when filing your articles by mail.
Please note that there is not an official fillable form or template Article of Incorporation provided by the state of Georgia. There are services that provide assistance in creating your Articles, or an experienced business attorney like those at Chouhan Law Firm can help.
Appoint a Registered Agent
Businesses need to appoint a registered agent for the service of processes in the state. This could be an individual or business that would receive the documents if the business is sued. They must be an individual or business that is authorized to do business activities in Georgia.
You can hire a registered agent service to protect your incorporated business. This should also include listing your first registered office.
Corporate Bylaws Preparation
You need to set the corporation’s bylaws, which are the rules you want your business to act upon. The preparation and creation of corporate bylaws are important as you can establish corporate operating rules and help show authorities and creditors like banks and IRS that your business is a legitimate entity.
To create extensive and actionable corporate bylaws, consult with a small business attorney in Atlanta, GA.
Appointment of Directors and Board Meetings
Depending on the type of business you form, you may need to appoint a Board of Directors.
The person who signed the articles (usually the incorporator) will appoint the directors who will be working until the first annual meeting of shareholders. The incorporator should hold the first meeting with all Board of Directors, appoint the workforce, negotiate bylaws, brainstorm or decide about the corporate bank, and adopt a stock certificate form and seal.
Plus, the incorporator should record all of the actions taken by each director in the corporate minutes. Furthermore, if the corporation is an S corporation, the directors will need to approve the S corporation status.
For some types of businesses, you have to issue stock to each shareholder in return for their financial contribution to the business.
It is usual for small businesses to issue paper stock certificates. It is necessary to note down all of these details, including the shareholder’s name, contact, and address, in the stock transfer ledger.
File Your Georgia Annual Registration
Once you are done with incorporation, you need to file your annual registration within the 90 days of incorporation. You can file the form online with the Secretary of State. You will need to add a list of three principal officers.
In order to remain in good standing and avoid dissolution, you should file a Georgia annual registration form by April 1 every year after the initial year.
Obtain an EIN
Lastly, you have to obtain a federal employer identification number by filling out the application form on the IRS website.
What are the Georgia Incorporation Laws?
According to Georgia corporation law, you can incorporate a corporation to serve any lawful and legal purpose. In Georgia, a corporation has all powers and privileges of a normal person to carry out its business activities.
The Georgia Corporations Division is the administrative filing agency that provides permissions to corporations. By incorporating your business in Georgia, you can proceed with any of the legal formalities and business activities in the corporation’s name. For example, the business can sue and can be sued, buy and sell assets, conduct business operations, file and pay corporate income tax and Georgia sales tax, and appoint a workforce.
Do I Need an Agent for Incorporating a Business in Georgia?
It can be useful to work with a Georgia registered agent to get your business incorporation filing approved by the Georgia Corporation Division Office, but it is not necessary.
It is a legal requirement for business entities to work with a registered agent in Georgia, but you can act as your own registered agent.
The registered office address of the agent’s office will be used to mail your business corporation documents. Your agent will also receive the documents on your behalf to deliver them to you carefully.
The registered agent must have a physical office in the state and be available during regular working hours to ensure that any mailed documents are received.
Working with a registered agent or a trusted business formation lawyer in Atlanta can ease the process of starting your business.
How Much Does it Cost to Incorporate in Georgia?
Incorporating a business in Georgia has an affordable filing fee of $50 for for-profit and professional business corporations and $30 for non-profit corporations.
The cost of the registered agent for incorporation of business in Georgia can cost you about $99 to $300 a year. It depends on the company type and the services offered by the registered agents.
If you want to form a Georgia LLC, Georgia Nonprofit, or Georgia corporation, consult with an experienced business attorney in Atlanta, GA.