The Atlanta business registration process differs in its requirements based on the type and size of the business. A small business in Atlanta, Georgia, is defined as one that is independently owned and operated. It must have 300 or fewer employees and less than $30 million in receipts every year.

How to Start a Business in Georgia

Starting a business in Georgia is convenient as long as you have the right resources and know where to find them. Before you jump into starting a business, there are a few important things you will want to research first:

  • Required business licenses and permits
  • Business registration requirements
  • Tax rules and structures for Georgia small businesses
  • Labor laws as they apply to Georgia

Advantages of Starting a Business in Georgia

There are many advantages to starting a business in Georgia. Georgia's rules and practices make it a great place for small business owners to open up. Currently, there are approximately 806,990 businesses registered in Georgia. Additional reasons you might consider starting a small business in Georgia include:

  • Georgia is ranked No. 1 for aerospace manufacturing.
  • Georgia is ranked No. 1 in the United States as the best state for business.
  • Georgia is ranked No. 5 in the United States for women-owned businesses.
  • Georgia is ranked No. 9 in the United States for best economies.

Atlanta, Georgia, also has many top ratings:

  • Atlanta is ranked No. 3 for United States startups.
  • Atlanta is ranked No. 2 for next top tech towns.
  • Atlanta is ranked as the third fastest growing women-owned businesses in the United States.
  • Atlanta is ranked No. 18 as one of the top cities for starting a small business.

Apply for a Business License in Atlanta, GA

Many new business owners wonder if, and when, they need to register their small business. Atlanta requires that all businesses, even small ones, have a business license with a business tax registration certificate. It is important that you register for a new license with each new business as business licenses in Georgia are not transferable.

There are also some business changes that require you to apply for a new license. For example, if you are changing owners or opening additional locations, you will need to apply for a new license.

Additionally, even if your main office is not in Georgia, but you are conducting business in Georgia, you will need to register your business with the state. You must also pay Georgia taxes on any income from the state.

Depending on the type of business and the products/services sold, there may be additional licenses or permits you have to obtain. Just a few types of businesses that require additional businesses licenses include:

  • Food and drink businesses
  • Adult entertainment businesses
  • Hotel or motel businesses
  • Alcoholic beverage businesses
  • Adult or child care services
  • Massage salons

Georgia has a business license tax manual that has a full list of businesses that require additional licensing.

Deadline for Payment of Annual Business License

Once you obtain a business license in Georgia, it is important to renew it every year. Georgia business licenses expire each year on Dec. 31. The renewal deadline is Feb. 15 and all associated fees must be paid by April 1 of the year.

Cost of Applying for a Small Business License

The cost of applying for a small business license in Georgia is $75. This fee is nonrefundable and must accompany the application packet. The cost of the actual license will depend on many factors including the projected income and the number of employees. You can find additional information about payment from the instruction manual or on the Atlanta business website. You can also reach out to the Atlanta Business Tax Division for questions about tax payments.

How Long Does It Take to Apply for a Business License?

The length of time it takes to apply for a business license will depend on the method you choose to apply. If you visit the office in person before 4 p.m., you can expect to complete the application that same day. If you mail in the application, you can expect the process to take three to five weeks.

All small businesses in Georgia must be registered. If you need help with Atlanta business registration, you can post your legal job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.