The implementation of a new website by the Corporations Division of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office in early January has not gone smoothly and, as a result, service delays should be expected. The state upgraded their website to a new platform with the goal of providing enhanced features and services, such as expanding on-line filing capabilities and enabling customers to save and edit online filings, upload documents and correct deficiencies. Upgrading to a new platform has necessitated a “transition period” where millions of historical records are migrated to the new system. Unfortunately, this transition period has caused filing delays and problems obtaining filing evidence, copies of documents and Certificates of Good Standing. The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is working to address these problems and has had employees working weekends, but they cannot predict how long it will take to eliminate the backlog.
Due to the extensive delays, the Corporations Division is now listing the current processing times for all entity types on their website. They offer expedited and non-expedited filing services, and as of February 27th, were processing routine hard copy filings that had been submitted on February 4th. Routine online filings have different processing times based on the entity type. For-profit corporation filings have the longest turnaround time – currently, filings submitted on February 11th are being processed. Professional corporations have the quickest turnaround time; filings submitted on February 21st are currently being processed. Georgia does offer an expedited service for an additional fee. Filings submitted on an expedited basis are processed within 24 hours.
Deadline for 2013 Annual Registration Extended
The Secretary of State, recognizing that filing delays and problems are making it difficult to comply with annual reporting requirements, announced on February 25th that it would extend the deadline for the 2013 annual registration from April 1st to May 31st.
Document Retrieval Delays and Additional Steps Needed to Obtain Information
Turnaround times have also increased for requests for Certificates of Good Standing and certified copies. During the migration, there are two places to check for information on a business entity:
- The entity search link on the state’s website will provide information on filings made after the new website was rolled out and includes information that has been migrated to the new website.
- The “historical search” link will show information that has not yet been migrated to the new system.
Good Standing Certificates must now be ordered on the new website. If key information on a corporation, such as the filing of the company’s annual report, has not yet been migrated to the new system, the system will not generate a Good Standing Certificate for the entity, even though the company is, in fact, in good standing. In cases where a Good Standing Certificate cannot be obtained through the new system, Corporations Division employees must be contacted for assistance and it can be difficult to get a quick response due to high level of such requests.
Certified copies of filed documents, which were previously available instantly online, are currently not obtainable on the web and must be ordered over the counter. These requests are also understandably backlogged, as Secretary of State employees now must print and provide copies that were formerly available online. Even expedited requests are taking more than a week to be fulfilled.
The Corporations Division of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office clearly recognizes that the upgrade to the new platform has not gone smoothly and is taking steps to alleviate the problems where it can. Until the migration process has been completed, however, it is advisable to expect delays and allow extra time when filing or requesting corporate documents in Georgia.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.