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Getting a Business License in Georgia

A large blue map of Georgia positioned behind a stack of white business documents.

Q: I’m going to start a wholesale and retail business in Georgia. What business licenses do I need?

Thank you to our Georgia customer for that great question! Though there’s no one-size-fits-all license required for Georgia businesses, all companies must obtain some sort of industry or profession-specific license or certification. On the local level, cities and counties may also require businesses to obtain general or specialized licenses or permits. Whatever license your Georgia company needs, we’ll show you how to acquire it here.

1. Georgia state licenses, permits and certifications

Georgia businesses are not required to get a single statewide business license, though most will need to register to pay taxes through the Georgia Department of Revenue. Some businesses offering what’s known as “professional services” will also need to obtain a specific license from one of the 42 licensing boards supported by the Professional Licensing Boards Division of the Secretary of State’s Office.

Which professions require state licenses?

Many business owners with “professional” occupations in Georgia must obtain authorization from a state licensing board. Such professions include (but are not limited to):

What is a Georgia sellers permit?

All businesses offering services or goods that require the payment of sales tax must register for a Sales and Use Tax number and certificate of registration—sometimes informally referred to as a “seller’s permit.” The certificate of registration must be displayed at the location for which it was issued. Unlike some licenses, there is no fee or renewal needed. The permit merely registers a business with the Georgia Department of Revenue.

2. Local-level business licenses in Georgia

Most communities in Georgia require some sort of license for a business to operate there. This can range from a general business license—such as is needed for all businesses within Atlanta’s city limits—to licenses and permits needed for specific business types. (For example, virtually all communities require a license to sell alcohol.) Reach out to your city or county government to determine which licenses or permits your business may require.

Are there any other local permits I might need?

In some areas, such as Savannah, a small business run out of a residential building will need a home occupation permit. Many communities also have restrictions in certain areas for environmental or zoning purposes, meaning businesses will need to acquire permits to operate in those locations. You can learn about your area’s rules for those permits by inquiring with your local zoning board or planning commission.

3. Georgia Resale Permit

If you buy or sell wholesale goods, you’ll probably want a resale permit, or what’s known in Georgia as a Georgia Sales Tax Certificate of Exemption. This form (when used properly) allows you to avoid paying sales tax on items sold in bulk and intended for resale.

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