What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Georgia?

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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.

Business License – There is no general state of Georgia business license, however many cities require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does.  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, alarm sales and installation companies and pawn brokers.   

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 licenses for businesses such as those that sell alcohol, pool halls, fortune tellers, massage therapists and more. 

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN or 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.

Learn how to apply for an EIN.

Georgia Business Tax Number – Any business in Georgia selling tangible personal property, 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.

Professional License – 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.

In addition to professional licenses from the Secretary of State, businesses in a variety of industries such as food establishments, daycares, salvage yards and many others require licensing.

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 a few of the most common business licenses, but there are way too many licenses and permits in Georgia for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, check with the City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.  Additionally, there are companies like IncFile or CorpNet that can do the research to ensure you have the proper federal, state and local licenses.