What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Georgia?
Starting a business in Georgia will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in Georgia.
Before applying for any licenses, the legal structure of the business will need to be established. Learn more about the differences between the sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Related: Comparison of Business Entities
Also see: Steps to Starting a Business in Georgia
Occupational Tax Certificate
There is no general state of Georgia business license, however, many cities require businesses to apply for an occupational tax certificate in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does. The cost of an occupational tax certificate will depend too on the gross receipts of the business and the number of employees.
Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements.
Atlanta – Businesses operating within the City limits of Atlanta must get a business license from the City of Atlanta.
In addition, several types of businesses are regulated in Atlanta, such as those that sell alcoholic beverages, bakeries, game rooms, health clubs, and more. Atlanta Regulatory Permits are available through the Department of Finance.
Columbus – The City of Columbus Finance Department requires all businesses operating in city limits to obtain a business license. Additionally, the Finance Department requires licenses for businesses selling alcoholic beverages, pawnbrokers, or precious metals dealers.
Savannah – All businesses operating in the City limits of Savannah must have a Business Tax Certificate, which is also known as a business license.
Sandy Springs – An Occupational Tax Certificate is required for each business operating in Sandy Springs within 30 days of starting.
Macon – All businesses operating in Macon-Bibb County must apply for an Occupational Tax Certificate. There are additional business license applications for businesses such as those that sell alcohol, pool halls, fortune tellers, massage therapists, and more.
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Building & Zoning Permits
Zoning – Depending on the location of the business, it’s important to verify whether the new business needs a Certificate of Occupancy or has specific zoning regulations to follow. Depending on city requirements, home-based businesses may need to apply for a home occupation permit.
Building Permit – A building permit may be needed from the city or county building and planning department if there is any construction or renovations to a facility.
Signage Permit – Some municipalities require a permit before adding signage.
Georgia Business Tax Number
Any business in Georgia selling tangible personal property and/or provides taxable services or contracts to provide services in the State of Georgia will need to register for a Georgia Sales Tax Number from the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Sales Tax Certificate of Exemption
Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Georgia Sales Tax Certificate of Exemption in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.
A variety of professionals in the state are regulated and need to register, such as interior designers, accountants, home inspectors, landscapers, plumbers, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing for regulated professions are available from the Georgia Secretary of State.
An alcohol privilege license is required for any establishment selling or serving alcoholic beverages. Check with your city’s alcohol board for more information about applying for the license.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN (or FEIN or Federal Employer Identification Number). The EIN is the business equivalent for a Social Security Number for an individual. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number.
There is no cost for an EIN, and it only takes a few minutes to get.
Trade Name Registration
While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for a Trade Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the business is located.
These are some of the most common business licenses, but there are far too many licenses and permit requirements for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, be sure to check with City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.