How to Get a Business License in Georgia

Learn the steps required to get a Georgia business license.

The Peach State is home to major corporations like Coca-Cola or The Home Depot. It also offers information about how to obtain a small business license. The Office of the Secretary of State’s Corporation Division manages Georgia’s First Stop Business Information Center.

This center aims to reduce administrative hurdles and provides a central clearinghouse that lists all licensing requirements and links to key contacts for federal, state, and local resources.

The state office also publishes a First Stop Business Guide to assist potential business owners in exploring licensing and regulatory issues. The University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center offers assistance to budding entrepreneurs and small businesses. It also provides information about government and private programs.

Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs offers an Economic Development Financing Packet that details federal, state, local, and private grants, loans, and tax incentives for new business. Here are some tips to help you get a Georgia small business license.

  • Business tax certificates. Business tax certificates (also known as business licenses) can be applied for in a specific county or city depending on the location of the business. A general business license is not required by Georgia. Your business can legally operate in Georgia if you have a valid tax certificate. To learn more about the local licensing authority, the state’s First Stop Business Guide suggests that new businesses contact their local Chamber of Commerce. The Secretary-of-State Elections Division’s website contains links to the relevant state and county offices. You must also register certain types of business structures such as limited liability companies, partnerships, and corporations with the Secretary of State’s Corporation Division. This can be done online, or by post. You may need to apply for a certificate d’occupation from the appropriate county or city zoning agency depending on the nature of your commercial venture.
  • Specialized licensing for industries and occupations that are regulated. Before you can start your own business, certain professions and industries require specialized state licenses. Contractors, dentists, and accountants are just a few examples. The Office of Secretary of State’s Professional Licensing Boards Division provides a list of licensed professions and regulatory bodies to assist you in exploring the licensing requirements. Online renewals of specialized licenses can be done via postal mail or online. You can also search the database to verify your licensing status for regulated professions. If necessary, you can also file online complaints.
  • Trade Name Registers. You must apply for a Trade Name Registry if you plan to operate a business under a false name or “doing businesses as” designation. If ABC Dental Associates, Inc. does business as Premier Dental Clinic, it will use a fictitious business name instead of its Georgia legal business name. You must register your trade name in such cases with the Clerk at Superior Court of the county in which your business is located. Your business must also publish your trade name in a paper that is used for printed sheriff.
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