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How to Get a Business License in Georgia
Written by: Coralee Bechteler
Coralee is a business writer with experience in administrative services, education, and software testing.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Updated on May 2, 2023
How to Get a Business License in Georgia
- Why are business licenses required in Georgia?
- Which agency issues business licenses in Georgia?
- Steps to Get a Georgia Business License
- Types of Business Licenses
One of the most important elements of starting a business in Georgia is making sure you have all the requisite licenses and permits. The requirements vary by state, some of which have as many as 300 different licenses and permits.
This article is too short to list them all, but it’s crucial that you’re aware of which ones your business needs and that you follow the steps for application and put your business on the road to success.
In Georgia, businesses need certain licenses and permits to legally operate as a business. The regulatory hurdles required vary depending on the type of business, its location, and the products and services offered.
To help you launch your new business, this article lays out the most commonly needed permits and licenses in Georgia— and details the steps required to acquire them.
Why are business licenses required in Georgia?
Business licenses and permits are issued to certify that a business and its products and services are safe for the public. This explains why food businesses, for instance, require more licenses than most other business types.
Which agency issues business licenses in Georgia?
In Georgia, the Department of Revenue issues the vast majority of licenses and permits, though some are issued by the Department of Human Services and the Licensing Boards Division. For instance, the state Department of Agriculture issues permits for food trucks, while the Department of Driver Services issues truck driver’s permits.
Some licenses and permits are issued by cities or counties. So if you live in Savannah, you’ll need to check with the city to see if licenses or permits are required for your business.
Before you apply, it’s important to know which state or local agency issues the license you need. Check the state’s guidelines here to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
Steps to Get a Georgia Business License
In Georgia, the steps for acquiring specific licenses and permits vary widely, so it’s important to be aware of what you need, and how to get it.
Determine the Types of Licenses That You Need
In Georgia, most cities and municipalities require a business to have at least a general business license from their local government’s Office of Revenue or Revenue Department.
The additional licenses your business needs to conduct business in Georgia will reflect the general type and nature of your business. For example, a convenience store seeking to sell tobacco products must first acquire the necessary licensure.
To safely run your business, it’s essential to review both state and city requirements and verify that your business is properly licensed.
Submit Your Business License Application
Many businesses in Georgia can apply for a business license using the state’s online service, Georgia Tax Center.
Additional licenses are filed with various state departments and local government departments of Georgia, so it’s best to double-check where to file a given form with both the State Department of Revenue, as well as your business’s corresponding local agency.
How much does a Georgia business license cost?
A Georgia seller’s permit won’t cost your business anything, but acquiring a business license from the local city government might mandate an accompanying fee. Additional business license fees vary in Georgia and depend on location and the application itself. For example, an alcohol license in Atlanta costs $5,000 a year.
In Georgia, and most US states, jumping through all the hoops to acquire the necessary licenses and permits can be exhausting. But if you want to operate your business, you’ll have to wade through all the red tape. So get started on these regulatory hurdles as early as possible and clear the way for your entrepreneurial journey to success.
How fast can I get a business license in Georgia?
Several business license applications are available online through the Georgia Tax Center service. Businesses applying for a license online can expect an email confirmation detailing their license details within just 15 minutes of submitting.
Processing times for additional licenses will vary depending on what business license you’re applying for, what city your business is located in, and if online applications are available. For example, Savannah doesn’t offer online filing, so license applications need to be mailed in. You can expect processing to take about two weeks.
Renew Your Licences When Needed
In Georgia, license renewal requirements vary. For example, seller’s permits maintain their validity with the state as long as the Department of Revenue is up to date on the correlating business’s information. Conversely, businesses with alcohol or tobacco licenses are required to renew their licenses annually.
Be sure to check with the state for renewal regulations and fees regarding the licenses your business needs to avoid unwanted penalties.
Types of Business Licenses
Your business may need local, state, and/or federal licenses and permits, depending on your type of business. Fees for these vary, but most costs are minimal.
Federal regulations associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific permits.
The most common permits and licenses include:
- Business operating licenses may be required by the city and the state to allow you to operate.
- Industry-specific licenses may be required, depending on your type of business. Businesses involved in construction, childcare, plumbing, electrical, food and liquor, insurance, finance, landscaping, and architecture all require licensing, for example. In some highly regulated industries, you may require licensing from a federal agency, such as the FDA or Department of Transportation.
- Zoning permits are issued by municipalities to ensure you’re operating in an area in which you’re allowed to operate.
- Building permits verify that the building you’re operating in is up to code. Home occupation permits, which some areas require, allow you to operate a business from your home.
- DBA permits allow you to do business under a name that is different from your legally registered business name.
- Sales tax permits allow you to sell products and collect sales tax.
- An employer identification number (EIN) is required if you plan to have employees, no matter what your business entity type.
- Health licenses and permits are required for certain businesses based on industry, and you will be required to maintain health and safety standards. Environmental permits are also required for certain industries in some locations.
- Fire permits certify that your business is up to fire safety codes. Depending on your location, this may be required for all businesses, while in other areas it’s required only if you work with flammable materials.
- Sign permits may be required for your location or other signage if there are rules about sign size and location.
Check with the state and local government offices for specific requirements for your location and industry.
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