Registering your business name in Ohio is important because it ensures that your business name is unique and readily identifiable to your customers.
Additionally, registering your business name is a legal requirement for doing business in Ohio.
In this blog, we will provide you with an overview of Ohio business registration, the advantages and disadvantages of registering your business, and choosing a legal structure for your company.
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Ohio Secretary of State
When registering a business name in Ohio, the first thing you need to do is go to the Ohio Secretary of State website. This is the authority responsible for business registration in the state, and their website provides all relevant information and necessary forms.
The website offers online registration, or you can call (877) SOS-FILE for assistance.
Further below we explain the process required for each type of entity, however here’s a quick overview of the process.
Once you have completed the registration process, you’ll need to obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). This can be done by contacting the Internal Revenue Service. Simply visit the IRS website, search for “EIN,” and follow the instructions for the online application.
It’s important to conduct a business name search before registering your business to ensure the name you want is available. Use the Ohio Secretary of State Business Search tool to check the availability of your desired business name. If the name is available, you can proceed with the registration process.
Remember to follow all instructions and guidelines provided by the Ohio Secretary of State during the business name registration process.
To register your business name, you’ll first need to decide on the type of business structure or legal entity you want to form. Choosing the right structure for your business will depend on various factors, such as tax implications, personal liability, and management control.
Let’s go over your options, including Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Corporation, and Nonprofit Organizations.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business structure, in which you are the sole owner and operator.
To start a sole proprietorship in Ohio, you can use your legal name or file a trade name or fictitious name. Keep in mind that this structure does not offer protection for your personal assets in case of debt or legal liabilities.
A partnership involves two or more individuals who own and operate the business together. In Ohio, you can form a general partnership or a limited partnership.
General partnerships require no formal registration, while limited partnerships should file a Certificate of Limited Partnership with the Ohio Secretary of State.
Both types of partnerships can benefit from registering a trade or fictitious name. Partnerships don’t offer personal asset protection but can be a convenient option for simpler businesses.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
An LLC is a popular choice for business owners, offering the flexibility of a partnership structure with the advantage of limited liability protection.
To set up an LLC in Ohio, you’ll need to file Articles of Organization with the Ohio Secretary of State and pay the necessary filing fee. You’ll also need to obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes.
Corporations provide owners with limited liability protection and have a separate legal identity. You can choose between a C corporation or an S corporation, each with its taxation advantages.
To create a corporation in Ohio, file Articles of Incorporation with the Ohio Secretary of State, obtain an EIN, and comply with all other state and federal regulations.
To establish a nonprofit corporation, file Articles of Incorporation with the Ohio Secretary of State, obtain an EIN, and complete the required IRS applications for tax exemption.
Be sure to adhere to Ohio state regulations and IRS requirements throughout the nonprofit formation process.
Once you identify the right business structures for your needs you can start the process of registering a business name in Ohio. We advise you consult with a legal or financial professional if you have any uncertainties during this selection process.
How to Register a Business Name in Ohio
Ohio Business Gateway
What is the Ohio Business Gateway?
The Ohio Business Gateway offers an online platform that simplifies this process for registering a business name in Ohio.
To register your business, you’ll first need to ensure the name you’ve chosen is available in Ohio. The Guide to Name Availability provided by the Ohio Secretary of State can help you verify that your desired name is unique and distinguishable from other registered businesses in the state.
Once you’ve confirmed your business name is available, you can register it through the Ohio Business Gateway.
This platform allows you to create an account, submit your application, and pay any required fees online. Aside from registering your business name, you can also manage your Ohio state taxes, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance contributions on this platform.
While using the Ohio Business Gateway, be sure to explore the resources it offers to help you successfully start and manage your business. These resources include guides, forms, checklists, and tutorials on various business topics such as business formation, hiring employees, and tax compliance.
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships
For sole proprietorships in Ohio, you can operate under your legal name without registering. However, if you want to use a different business name, you’ll need to file a trade name (sometimes referred to as Doing Business As, or DBA) with the Ohio Secretary of State, which you can do online.
Partnerships, on the other hand, can either use the last names of the partners or register a DBA name with the Ohio Secretary of State. To ensure your desired name is available and not in use by another company in the state, you must register with the Secretary of State.
LLCs and Corporations
When starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation in Ohio, you’ll need to select and register a unique business name. Begin by checking the availability of your desired name through the Ohio Secretary of State online business filing portal.
After confirming your desired name is available, proceed to register your LLC or Corporation with the Ohio Secretary of State. This process typically involves filing Articles of Organization (for LLCs) or Articles of Incorporation (for Corporations), as well as obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes.
Remember to also designate a registered agent when registering your LLC or Corporation, as they will receive official papers and legal documents on behalf of your company.
Once you have successfully registered your business name in Ohio, you are legally allowed to conduct business in the state.
Checking Name Availability
Before registering your business name in Ohio, it’s essential to check whether the name is available. To do this, visit the Ohio Secretary of State Business Search page.
This search will reveal any conflicts with existing business names, trade names, limited liability company names, limited partnership names, and limited liability partnership names.
Here you want to make sure that the business name you are going to be using is unique and doesn’t infringe on any trademarks.
In Ohio, especially, your business name should be clearly distinguishable from other existing names. So, I recommend you stay away from using names that are too similar to other businesses, so as to avoid potential legal issues.
If you find that your desired business name is available, go ahead and reserve the name with the Ohio Secretary of State. You can do this through the Guide to Name Availability page. This will ensure that the name remains available until you’re ready to register your business.
Another important aspect to consider when registering a trade name in Ohio, is that your chosen business name should not be misleading or violate any existing federal trademarks.
To confirm this, check the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database for any potential conflicts.
During this process I highly recommend that you also check for domain name availability to ensure that your online brand presence is in line with your legal business branding.
I can assure you that even if you don’t intend to set up a website in the beginning you’ll be glad you secured a domain, as in today’s digital age having an online presence is super important and as your business journey progresses you will definitely want a website.
Doing Business As (DBA)
Registering a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name is required when you are planning to operate your business under a name different from its legal name, specifically in the case of a sole proprietor or partnership set-up.
To register a DBA for your sole proprietorship or partnership, begin by checking the availability of your desired name with the Ohio Secretary of State. This ensures that the name you choose is not already being used by another company in the state. Registration can be completed online or by calling the Ohio Secretary of State at 877-SOS-FILE.
Maintaining Your Business Name
To maintain your business name in Ohio, you need to ensure that it remains compliant with the state’s requirements. The process may vary slightly depending on the type of business entity you have.
Beyond the initial registration, it is crucial to stay updated on the periodic filings required for your specific business type:
- Sole Proprietors and Partnerships: Generally, there are no ongoing filing obligations at the state level, but you should regularly check for any changes to local or county regulations.
- LLCs: You must file an Annual Report every year with the Ohio Secretary of State, providing updated information about your LLC’s address, management team, and more. Failure to comply with this requirement can lead to fines or even the administrative dissolution of your LLC.
- Corporations: Corporations in Ohio must file an Annual Report each year, as well as fulfill any other requirements imposed by the Secretary of State, such as paying franchise taxes and providing periodic reports about shareholders and officers.
Apart from this, you should always be aware of any changes to Ohio’s business regulations and tax laws. Keep a close eye on the Ohio Department of Taxation website and consult with a professional accountant or tax advisor to help you stay on top of your business’s tax obligations to the state.
Lastly, if you need to make any changes to your registered business name, such as a name or address change, be sure to file the appropriate paperwork with the Ohio Secretary of State. Timely filing of these changes will keep your business in good standing and ensure the legal protection of your business name.
Have A Professional Service File Your DBA For You
If you want to register a business name in Ohio, one option is to have a professional service file your DBA (Doing Business As) for you. This can save you time and ensure that the process is done correctly.
Hiring a professional service to register your Ohio DBA has several advantages.
A good professional will handle all the necessary paperwork and ensure that your business name is compliant with state requirements. This includes checking the name availability, which is vital to avoid potential legal issues.
Additionally, these services often have a faster processing time compared to filing the DBA yourself. They are familiar with the state-specific rules and regulations, which helps expedite the process.
When you choose a professional service, they will handle the registration process regardless of your business location. This ensures that your DBA is properly filed in the state of Ohio, and will also keep track of any renewal deadlines, ensuring that your business name remains registered.
Consider these services as an investment in your business, as they allow you to concentrate on the important part of running your day-to-day operations, without having to worry about the regulatory matters, that can easily eat up alot of your time and effort.
Advantages of Registering Your Business in Ohio
Registering your business name in Ohio with the Secretary of State has many benefits, including legal protection of your trade name and improved credibility among customers and investors.
Registered businesses often have access to funding and tax breaks from the Ohio Department of Taxation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before filing paperwork with the Ohio Secretary of State, take note of these common FAQs:
What are the steps to register a business name in Ohio?
To register a business name in Ohio, you first need to register with the Ohio Secretary of State. Next, obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service by visiting their website at IRS.gov and searching for “EIN”. Finally, open a bank account for your business.
What is the process for searching and registering a business name in Ohio?
To search for available business names in Ohio, use the Business Name Search tool provided by the Secretary of State. Once you have found an available name, complete the necessary registration forms and submit them along with the required fees.
How much does it cost to register a fictitious business name in Ohio?
The fees for registering a fictitious business name in Ohio vary depending on the type of business entity. You can find Filing Forms & Fees information on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website.
What resources are available for registering a business name online in Ohio?
The Ohio Business Central website offers resources for registering a business name in Ohio, including an online filing system, guide to name availability, frequently asked questions, and more.
How can I ensure my desired LLC name is available in Ohio?
To ensure your desired LLC name is available in Ohio, use the Business Name Search tool provided by the Secretary of State. This allows you to check the availability of your preferred name before submitting your registration.
How do I transfer my DBA in Ohio?
To transfer your DBA in Ohio, file a new registration with updated information and pay the transfer fee. Remember to update all necessary documents with your new DBA. Fees vary by county.
Is my Ohio DBA protected from being used in other places?
Registering a DBA in Ohio only protects it within the state, not nationally. To safeguard your business name nationwide, register for a trademark. Legal action can be taken if someone else tries to use your Ohio DBA.
Remember that Trademarks will need to be renewed every five years to maintain protection.
How many DBAs can I have?
In Ohio, there is no limit to the number of DBAs you can register for your business, but each must have a separate registration and renewal fee.
Can a DBA have “Inc.” in the name?
A DBA is a business that operates under a name other than its legal name. In Ohio, a DBA can have “Inc.” in the name if it’s registered as a corporation or LLC with the Ohio Secretary of State.
Can I file a DBA online in Ohio?
Yes, you can conveniently file a DBA online in Ohio through the Secretary of State’s website. The process is quick and simple, requiring basic information about your business and its owners.
How long does it take to form an LLC in Ohio?
The timing required for forming an LLC in Ohio depends on the filing method. Online filing takes 2-3 business days, while mail filing takes up to 10 business days.
Keep in mind that any errors or incomplete information in the application process can lead to delays. Once formed, a certificate of organization will be issued by the state.
What is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is an individual or organization responsible for receiving legal and official documents on behalf of a business.
Registered Agents must have a physical address in Ohio, be available during regular business hours, and keep their information up-to-date.
Utilizing a registered agent can help businesses avoid costly legal problems by ensuring timely receipt of important documents.
Disclaimer and Conclusion
This article is meant to give a brief overview of what steps you need to follow in order to register a business name in Ohio and is not meant to act as legal advice.
Registering a business name in Ohio can get quite complicated, this is why I always recommend investing in an experienced attorney to guide you through the intricacies of the legal and tax set up.
Attorneys will be able to advise you on the best set-up for your business, and consequently avoid any future legal problems. They also help you optimize your tax planning structure. It’s important you make sure to engage an experienced attorney.
For more guides on how to register a business name in the USA, please click here