Apply For A Business License Athens, Georgia

Do I need a business license to operate a small business in Athens, GA?

Absolutely! A business license, which is called a Business Occupational Tax Certificate in Athens-Clarke County, is required for anyone operating a small business in Athens. You must apply for a business license even if the business is only changing ownership.

How do I begin the process to obtain a business license in Athens?

First, you must verify that your business is located in Athens, GA and zoned correctly.  To do this, contact the Athens-Clark County Planning Department by calling (706) 613-3515. Even if a business previously resided in the same location, you must obtain approval through the Planning Department before applying for a business license.

What documents do I need to obtain a business license for my small business?

At the minimum, you must complete a Business Occupation Tax Application and the Athens-Clark County, Georgia Finance Department Affidavit Verifying Residency Status of an Applicant as required by the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (hereafter referred to as the Residency Affidavit). These applications can be obtained here (Athens Georgia Business License) or by calling the Finance Department at (706) 613-3050.

If you are planning to operate your business from your home, you must first fill out a Home Occupation Application, which can be obtained here (Athens Georgia Business License). You can also get a copy by visiting the Planning Department at 120 W. Dougherty St. (706-613-3515). You must turn this form into the Planning Department with a $5 fee (only cash or check is accepted). You will receive a Home Occupation Approval form from the Planning Department and you must submit this form to the Finance Department with the rest of your business license paperwork.

If your business will involve the service of food or drink, you must obtain a food permit from the Environmental Health Service before seeking your business license. You can obtain this form by visiting Environmental Health Services, located at 189 Paradise Boulevard. (706-583-2658).

If your business is a grocery store or a convenience store, you will have to obtain a permit from the Department of Agriculture before applying for your small business license. For more information on this, contact the Department of Agriculture at (706) 546-3576.


If you are a professional (someone who needs an additional state license to practice), you must include a copy of your Georgia State license in your business license application packet.

If your business is a massage parlor, involves adult entertainment, or will sell alcohol, other licenses or permits may apply. For more information on this, contact the Finance Department at (706) 613-3515.

If your business involves street vending, you will need a Merchant Assigned Location Permit. For more information on this, contact the Central Services Department at (706) 613-3530.

If you business requires a taxi permit, a wrecking permit, or a driving permit, a copy of the permit must be submitted with your business license application. For more information about these permits, please contact the Police Department at (706) 613-3330.

For more information on additional permits, taxes, and fees that may apply to your new business, please see the New Business Start-up Information document, found here (Athens Georgia Business License).

What do I need to complete the Business Occupation Tax Application and the Residency Affidavit?

For the Business Occupation Tax Application, you will need to know information such as the name of your business, its location, the nature of your business, your tax ID number, your State Sales Tax ID number (if applicable), the number of employees, and name and address of the owner. The Residency Affidavit is a document you must sign verifying that you are legally able to obtain a business license in the state of Georgia. This document must be signed in the presence of a notary public. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may need to provide additional documents. Please see the Residency Affidavit for more information.

How much does it cost to apply for a business license in Athens, GA?

The cost of your business license is based on how many people you employ. A worksheet to determine your fee can be found on the the Business Occupation Tax Application. If you are a professional, you may choose to pay a flat fee of $400 instead of the amount of money determined by the process described in the paragraph above.

Where can I find more information about obtaining a small business license in Athens, GA?

Additional information about applying for a small business license can be found in the following documents (all located here (Athens Georgia Business License)): Athens-Clark County Code of Ordinances Section 6-1, General Information for Business Occupation Tax and the New Business Start-up Information. You can also call the Finance Department (Athens Georgia Finance Dept.) at (706) 613-3040 or visit them at 375 Satula Avenue, Athens, GA  30601.

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