A crucial step in starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Georgia is acquiring all the licenses and permits required for your business. Depending on your industry and location, you may require licenses and permits at the federal, state, and local levels.
And without them, you could face major hurdles and penalties. This guide provides all you need to know to ensure you’re in full compliance in Georgia.
Which Department Issues Business Licenses and Permits?
In most states, many agencies and departments issue licenses and permits depending on the type of business. For example, in Georgia, the Department of Revenue issues most licenses, although the Professional Licensing Boards Division also issues a good number.
The revenue department issues sales tax permits. You can apply online at the Georgia Tax Center.
At the county and municipal levels, various departments issue licenses and permits. Check with your local governments for requirements.
Federally, different departments oversee different industries. As a result, licenses and permits are generally industry-specific, except for health permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For example, if you run a farm, the U.S. Department of Agriculture may require licenses and permits for your business.
You must register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives if your business sells fireworks. Most industries, however, do not require licensing at the federal level.
The Small Business Association (SBA) has put together a handy guide that details which licenses and permits are needed for various types of businesses.
Common Business Licenses and Permits
Here are some common licenses and permits you may need:
If a federal agency regulates your industry, you’ll need to be licensed by that agency. Some federal agencies that license businesses include:
- Department of Agriculture
- Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
- Department of Transportation
Some common licenses you may need at the state level include:
- Industry-specific licenses for certain professions and industries, such as construction, plumbing, electrical, childcare, food handling, liquor, architecture, and finance
- Health licenses and permits
- Doing business as (DBA) permits using a name other than your LLC.
- Sales tax permit
At the municipal or county level, you may need licenses or permits, including:
- Building and zoning permits
- Health licenses and permits
- Fire permits
- Sign permits
How to Obtain a Business License in Georgia
In Georgia, a general business license is not required.
- Unless you’re operating as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll need to register your business entity with the state, usually as an LLC or a corporation.
You can do so online with the Secretary of State.
- You’ll need to register for sales tax at the Georgia Tax Center if you sell goods or services.
- Other specific licenses can be applied for through specific departments. For example, if you have an electrical business in Georgia, you’ll need an electrical contractor’s license. You’ll need to apply with the Georgia State Board of Electrical Contractors.
- Check with your local governments for licenses and permits you may need locally.
How Much Does a Business License Cost in Georgia?
License and permit fees vary. A sales tax permit, for instance, costs nothing in Georgia, while forming an LLC costs $100.
Do Licenses and Permits Have to Be Renewed?
Some licenses and permits must be renewed annually. For example, a sales tax permit in Georgia does not have to be renewed. However, most professional licenses, such as electrical contractors, must be renewed annually.
Check with the issuing department for renewal requirements for other licenses and permits.
Obtaining licenses and permits is a critical step when starting an LLC in Georgia, so check with state and local government offices and fully comply with their requirements. If you operate without the proper licenses and permits, you could face steep fines or even the closure of your business.
If you’re unsure of state or local regulations and need help, consult a business attorney, as proper licensing is an absolute must.