Starting a Sole Proprietorship In Atlanta

For quite a long time, I've been doing business as "ithought" but people have always paid me in cash or checks made out to me. I recently received a check made out to "ithought", but when I tried to deposit the check into my personal checking account, my bank turned me away and told me that I needed to register my business and provide them with several pieces of information to be able to deposit the check. This took a while to take care of and what follows are what you'll need to do if your find yourself in a similar situation. Read the whole thing so that you can combine steps (like money order acquiring and form notarizing) and avoid time wasting things (like going to the bank several times, or waiting on hold).
  1. Pick a name for your business. If this is your name, you can skip the next step, but if you want to make up your own name, continue on
  2. Register your "Doing Business As" (DBA) name.
    • Print out this form:
    • Take it to a public notary and get it notarized. (You can try and do this at the Fulton County/City of Atlanta buildings down town but they will bounce you all over the place, and you're really just better off doing this at your bank or something ahead of time.)
    • Take this notarized form and $29.25 to:
      Clerk of Superior Court
      136 Pryor St SW
      Atlanta, GA 30303
      Note that you'll need to go through metal detectors to get in here, so no bicycle helmets or weapons allowed inside!
    • Then find Room TG200. To get here from the main courthouse entrance, take the hallway to the right, go down the escalator on your left, and take a left up a long ramp and go into the office on the left labeled something like "Real Estate Filing" which doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's ok! Wait in line, and be prepared to fill out a short form there that they will give you.
    • In a few weeks, you'll receive an official document in the mail, but the stamped copy of the notarized form that they hand back to you (this is what the $0.25 is for) is sufficient proof of having an official DBA name.
  3. Register your business with the City of Atlanta. This is not required for a checking account, but I didn't find this out until later. It's called a "Business Tax Registration" in some places and a "Business License" in other places, and I'm pretty sure it's a good idea to have.
    • Pick up a $75 money order or certified check. (Probably a good idea to do this at the bank when you get the name registration form notarized above.
    • Head to
      City of Atlanta Business Tax Division
      55 Trinity Avenue, SW
      Suite 1350
      Atlanta, Georgia 30335-0317
      Note that you'll need to go through metal detectors to get in here, so no bicycle helmets or weapons allowed inside! There is a "take a number" machine that apparently has been broken for a while, so just do what you need to do to talk to the person at the counter.
    • Ask them for a business registration form and fill it out, then have them verify that it looks ok.
    • The will tell you to go upstairs to the Zoning board. I'm pretty sure this was on the third floor, but they will tell you which one, and it's in a desk in the back corner of the room with a sign over it that says "Business Registration" or "Business License." They will fill out a part of your form, and send you back downstairs.
    • Once approved in the Business Tax Division office again, they'll send you to the cashier's office in the building atrium to pay, you'll take the receipt back to the Business Tax Division office, and at some point they will hand you your temporary business license. You'll get the official one in the mail in a few weeks.
  4. Get your federal EIN here and make sure to have it delivered to you online. Write down the number somewhere, and print a copy of the document they provide you with.
  5. Head to your bank with a printed copy of your EIN document, the stamped copy of your name registration, and a photo ID and they will take care of the rest.
And that's it! You'll be able to use the check made out to your business as your opening deposit. Some additional information about all of this is available at: Hopefully this will save you some time, but you may be waiting in line for a while at many or all of the places above, and some of them have odd hours. Note that many City of Atlanta facilities are closed on Fridays now due to city budget shortfalls.

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