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What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Georgia?

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Georgia?

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What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Georgia?

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.

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.

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.

Rockdale County – Businesses operating in commercial or industrial zones of unincorporated Rockdale County will need a commercial business license. Also, home-based businesses in the county will need to obtain a home occupation license.

Done for you license research

Take the guesswork out of figuring out what licenses and permits are required to start your business with license research packages from IncFile and LegalZoom.

For as little as $99, you can save a lot of time and know your business is in compliance with local, state, and federal requirements. 

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.

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 establishmentsdaycaressalvage yards, and many others require licensing.

Alcohol License

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. CorporationsLimited Liability CompaniesPartnerships, 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

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.

For some additional peace of mind, companies like IncFile can do the research and ensure you have all of the proper federal, state, and local licenses to start your business.


  • Greg Bouhl

    With over two decades as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, Greg Bouhl has worked with over 2,000 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Fed up with clients finding and acting on inaccurate and outdated information online, Greg launched StartUp101.com to be a trusted resource for people starting a business.

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Georgia?

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Georgia?

2 Responses

  1. What would be the steps needed for an online business in the state of Georgia? I have spoken to a economic person from Georgia revenue and was told doing business in a home with it being online I didn’t have to apply for a business license or EIN number that I would use my SSN. Some of the wholesalers ask for a sellers permit number, EIN, or business license. So I’m confused on what all needs to take place. You’re help would be very appreciated.

    1. Hi Rhonda – The steps to get started will be largely the same regardless of whether the business is online or brick-and-mortar. This resource – https://startup101.com/georgia/ should help outline things a bit.

      Regarding the business license, there isn’t a state business license in Georgia, but the rules in each town/city are going to be different. A business license isn’t always required for a home-based business, but some cities require one, or they may require an occupation permit to legally operate out of the home. Your best bet is to call your local city hall, economic development office, or chamber of commerce to see if licensing is required.

      You can use your social security number, if you register as a sole proprietorship or LLC as long as you don’t have employees or elect s corp taxation (LLC only). There is more info in the first link that explains explains the difference in entities.

      I’m not sure why this wasn’t mentioned in your call, but you will need to register for a sales tax number with the Department of Revenue – https://startup101.com/how-to-register-for-a-sales-tax-number-in-georgia/, since that is where your business is based and will be selling goods. Once you get that number, you will be able to get a sales tax certificate of exemption https://startup101.com/georgia-sales-tax-certificate-of-exemption/. This certificate allows you to purchase products to resell from your vendors and not pay sales tax, as the customer you sell to will pay sales tax.

      Making matters more complicated, but something you won’t have to worry about until you start selling a lot is that if you exceed a certain dollar amount or number of transactions to customers in a state, that state will require you to register and collect sales tax. Here is a good resource to help with being a remote seller – https://www.streamlinedsalestax.org/for-businesses/remote-seller-faqs/remote-seller-state-guidance.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions!


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