A Georgia corporation is a legal business entity that separates the assets of the founding individuals and shareholders from the company’s debts and liabilities. Incorporating your company is a way to provide a barrier between yourself and your business in order to protect your assets.
Corporations are the oldest legal business entity in the United States and have been a chief element of the business culture in this country. Dating back to early 18th century, the corporation has been a way for companies to raise capital and promote growth.
Corporations, and most legal business entities, are created at the state level and governed by state statutes. Corporations formed in Georgia are no exception. To incorporate your company, you must adhere to Georgia law and follow the necessary steps to initiate and maintain your corporation.
Incorporating your company is a big step. While the incorporation process in Georgia is relatively simple, it is important to consider which business entity is right for your company. Some of the benefits of forming a corporation include being more attractive to investors, the added prestige of incorporation, and limited liability. However, corporations require substantially more ongoing maintenance than an LLC. Making the best decision for your company will require thinking about your future business goals and what you are planning to accomplish now.
Once the Georgia Secretary of State has processed the formation documents, a Certificate of Incorporation will be mailed to the incorporator. This typically occurs around 12 business days after the filing (or 3 days if you pay the $100 expedite fee).
To keep your corporation in good standing with the Georgia Secretary of State, you must submit an initial Annual Registration (often abbreviated as “AR” on the Secretary of State website) within 90 days of incorporating. In addition to this document, you must also submit a $50 fee. The filing must be submitted online via the Georgia Secretary of State website.
After your file the initial Annual Registration document, the subsequent filings are due between January 1 and April 1.
You can incorporate your company yourself, or your can hire us to help. Georgia Registered Agent LLC provides quality, organized, and efficient incorporation service. Your business success is our business success and there’s nothing we love more than entrepreneurs thriving on their journey towards achievement.
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Some people want to complete the incorporation process on their own. Maybe you want to save start up costs or maybe you want to better understand the corporate journey. Either, way doing it yourself is an option. If that’s the route you choose, you can always just hire us as your registered agent.
With us as your registered agent, we provide you with PDFs of important formation documents and helpful filing tips to get you started.
- Articles of Incorporation Submitted by Expert Filers
- Transmittal Information Form 231 Submitted & Filed
- 1-Day Processing
- One Complete Year of Registered Agent Service
- Initial Annual Registration Submitted
- Annual Registration Notifications and Reminders
- Secure Client Portal for Accessing Documents
- Bylaws, Shareholder Certificates & Initial Resolutions
- Friendly and Helpful Support from Our Expert Staff
If you want your corporation formed in 3 days, you can expedite service for an additional $100 fee.
We get this question all the time. How do we keep our prices low and offer free business documents when our competitors charge between $50 and $75 per document?
Well, here’s the deal: We’ve been where you are. Those first years and initial big steps can be kind of scary. We want to make it a little bit easier. We’re not in it to swindle, scam, or mislead. We want everyone to have a fair chance. Our prices are transparent and our services are simple, straightforward, and easy to use.
To incorporate your company in Georgia on your own, you must file the Articles of Incorporation and the Transmittal Information Form. There is a $100 initial filing fee. The documents, and this fee, can be submitted online, in person, or via mail. Once the paperwork is processed, the Georgia Secretary of State will issue a Certificate of Incorporation to the filing incorporator.
After the corporation is a legal business entity, there are several steps required to affirm its validity. These include: adopting bylaws, holding an initial meeting, keeping meeting minutes, and electing a board of directors.
Your corporation name must include a term that identifies it as an incorporated company. For example, the name must include one of the following words (or an abbreviation of the word): corporation, incorporated, company, or limited. The name of your corporation must be different from any other legal business entity name on record with the Georgia Secretary of State.
All companies incorporated in Georgia must appoint a registered agent. A registered agent is an entity that is selected to receive service of process or other legal correspondence on behalf of the corporation. The only requirement a registered agent must fulfill is they have a physical street address in Georgia. This means that, technically, if you live in Georgia, you can serve as your own registered agent. However, if you do, you must provide your personal address on the Articles of Incorporation which will be made public record once they are filed with the Georgia Secretary of State.
If you don’t have a physical address in Georgia, or want to keep your personal details private, you can hire a registered agent to provide their address on the Articles of Incorporation instead of yours. This is something we can help with. We provide registered agent service for a flat fee of $49 a year.
It is a good idea to draft the bylaws for your corporation before your paperwork is processed. That way, everyone involved is on the same page. Corporate bylaws are the document that outlines who the initial shareholders are, what they have contributed in exchange for stock in the company, the duties and voting rights of each shareholder, and how many shareholders the corporation can have. The bylaws also list the administrative positions and their current corporate officers including the president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary.
Why are bylaws important?
Corporate bylaws are important because they provide official and succinct information about the ownership of the corporation. While it is not necessary that you file this document with any state division in Georgia, they are what the Court will use to make any rulings if your corporation ends up in any litigation.
The final draft of your corporate bylaws are typically made official during the initial shareholder meeting after the corporation has been formed. If, at any point, the bylaws shall require amending, the initial bylaws should outline that process.
Once you have chosen a name, selected a registered agent, and drafted your corporate bylaws, you are ready to start the incorporation process. Follow these steps to incorporate your company in Georgia.
In Georgia, to incorporate your company, you must complete the Articles of Incorporation.
What information is required on the Georgia Articles of Incorporation?
According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 14-2-202, the Articles of Incorporation must include the following information:
In addition to this required information, you can also include the name and address of the initial directors, the purpose of the corporation, or the par value of the authorized shares—but you don’t have to.
This document must be signed by an incorporator or an attorney in fact. The incorporator does not necessarily own any shares in the corporation and is not entitled to any shares based on being an incorporator. This signature is not required to be notarized.
The Transmittal Information Form is a business formation form that is required for all Georgia profit and nonprofit corporations.
What information is required on the Georgia Transmittal Information Form?
The Transmittal Information Form must include:
If you hire us to form your business, we automatically take care of providing this information and filing this form as well.
Both of these documents, and a filing fee of $100, must be submitted to the Georgia Secretary of State for approval.
What ways can I file the Articles of Organization and Transmittal Information Form, and what payment methods are accepted?
You can file these forms online, in-person, or via mail.
If you are filing in person, you can pay with card, check, or money order. The Georgia Secretary of State does not accept cash payments. If you are submitting the forms for filing via mail, you can pay with a check or money order made out to “Secretary of State.” Online filing fees must be paid with a card.
After the documents are submitted to the Georgia Secretary of State, the processing time is around 12 business days (or 3 days if you pay the $100 expedite fee). When the company is incorporated, the Secretary of State will issue a Certificate of Incorporation to the address of the incorporator.
Is there any way to keep my personal information off the public record in Georgia?
In Georgia, you are not required to list any personal information on the corporation formation documents. This means that if you hire a registered agent instead of serving as your own, all of your information stays private and off of public record.
All aspiring Georgia Corporations must send a Notice of Intent to Incorporate for publication. The publishing newspaper or journal must either be the county’s legal organ or a newspaper with a general circulation for which at least 60 percent of its subscriptions are paid.
The term “legal organ” is unique to Georgia and refers to a newspaper or journal that publishes public notice advertisements and has been selected by the Judge of Probate Court, Sheriff, and Clerk of Superior Court. To find out more about what publication is your county’s current legal organ, you can contact your county clerk, or do a quick internet search.
The Notice of Intent to Incorporate must be sent, along with a $40 publication fee, no later than the next business day after filing the Articles of Incorporate with the Georgia Secretary of State. For more information on formatting the Notice of Intent to Incorporate, please take a look at this example from the Georgia Secretary of State.
After you have filed the formation documents and sent the Notice of Intent to Incorporate, there are a few more steps to optimizing your corporation to succeed. You will need to obtain an EIN, hold an initial board meeting, adopt the bylaws, elect the board of directors, issue shareholder certificates, and open a business banking account.
An EIN is a unique nine digit number that is issued by the Internal Revenue System (IRS) for federal taxation purposes. Getting an EIN is very simple and can be completed entirely online. It’s also free, so there is no need to charge our customers for this. However, if you are attempting to incorporate in Georgia and you are not a US citizen, it is a little more difficult to get an EIN. This is something you may want to hire someone to help you with. For an additional fee, we can get an EIN for your corporation—just select “Tax ID without SSN” when you are checking out. Otherwise, just visit the IRS website to get an EIN today.
An Initial Board Meeting is the first meeting of all initial corporate directors. During this meeting, the drafted bylaws are officially put to a vote and agreed upon.
Typically the Articles of Incorporation outline an initial board of directors. During the initial meeting, these initial directors will elect the permanent directors. Typically, the duration of a director term is one year, and directors are up for election during the Annual Shareholder Meeting.
In addition to electing the board of directors, it is common for stock ownership certificates to be issued to shareholders during this time.
Opening a business bank account is one of the most important things you can do to solidify the separation of your personal assets from the debts and liabilities of your company.
What do I need to open a business bank account in Georgia?
Many business banking accounts require that you present your EIN and a copy of your bylaws to open an account. However, requirements differ between banks, so it is a good idea to speak with your selected establishment beforehand.
After you have filed the necessary documentation with the Georgia Secretary of State and completed all the formal steps of incorporating, you will need to complete your annual registration. The window to complete your annual registration begins on January 1 and ends on April 1.
You can completed the annual registration for your corporation in person, via mail, or online. However, the easiest and most common way to complete it is online.
To complete your annual registration in person or via mail, you must complete the annual registration form and pay the $25 filing fee. A PDF of the form is available at the Georgia Secretary of State website.
In order to complete the annual registration form, you must provide the following information:
If you do not file your annual registration before the April 1st deadline, there is a $25 late fee.
It is common for particular industries to require business licenses for operation in Georgia. It is a good idea to make sure you are in compliance at your city and county level before commencing business.