Our picks for LLC formation services

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FAQs

How do I choose a name for my Ohio LLC?

Before business formation, you’ll choose a name for your Ohio LLC. It must be unique and distinguishable from the names of existing businesses registered in Ohio. The name must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC” or “L.L.C.” You can check the availability of your desired name through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website to ensure it’s not already in use.

Are there annual requirements for LLCs in Ohio?

Ohio LLCs are not required to file an annual report, which is a unique feature compared to many other states. However, LLCs must maintain compliance with other state requirements, such as renewing any necessary licenses and permits and ensuring their registered agent information is up to date.

What is a statutory agent, and how is it different from a registered agent in Ohio?

In Ohio, a statutory agent is the same as a registered agent. The term refers to an individual or business entity appointed to receive legal documents, government communications, and important notices on behalf of the LLC. The statutory (registered) agent must have a physical address in Ohio and be available during normal business hours.

What is a foreign LLC, and how do I register one in Ohio?

A foreign LLC refers to an LLC that was formed in another state but wishes to do business in Ohio. To register, you must file a Foreign Registration Statement with the Ohio Secretary of State, along with the required filing fee. The LLC must also provide a certificate of good standing from its home state, proving it is in compliance there.

Can I have employees in my Ohio LLC?

Yes, an Ohio LLC can hire employees as part of its business operations. To do so, the LLC must obtain an EIN from the IRS, register for Ohio’s unemployment insurance, and comply with workers’ compensation regulations. Additionally, the LLC must adhere to all federal and Ohio laws for employment, including withholding income taxes and reporting new hires to the state.

Does Ohio offer DBAs?

Yes, Ohio recognizes the use of Doing Business As (DBA) names, also called a trade name or fictitious name, allowing businesses to operate under a name different from their legal entity name. This is particularly useful for sole proprietors, general partnerships, and even incorporations that wish to conduct business under a name that better represents their products or services.

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When starting a new company, choosing a business entity is the most important decision that the founders must make. For most businesses with more than one founding member, forming an LLC is often the best option for a number of reasons.

An LLC is an uncomplicated business structure that affords business owners legal protection by separating personal assets from business debts. Moreover, LLCs often enjoy a lower tax rate than corporations. Nevertheless, creating an LLC can get complicated depending on where you are based, with the formation process, filing fees, and continuing legal obligations differing from state to state.

The process of forming an LLC in Ohio is streamlined and lacking in unusual requirements. Entrepreneurs starting a business in the state shouldn’t face many difficulties. Another business-friendly aspect of forming an LLC in Ohio is the fact that the state doesn’t require limited liability companies to file annual reports.

1. Select a name for your Ohio LLC

Follow naming requirements

There are two major guidelines to follow when naming your LLC in the State of Ohio:

  1. An LLC’s name must be distinguishable from the names of existing business entities on file with the Ohio Secretary of State.
  2. An LLC’s name must contain one of the following phrases or abbreviations: “Limited Liability Company”, “limited”, “ltd.”, “LLC”, or “L.L.C.”

Need help coming up with a business name? Check out our free business name generator.

Check the availability of your LLC name

To make sure that your chosen business name is free to use in Ohio, perform a search with the Ohio Secretary of State Business Search.

Reserve your LLC name with the Secretary of State

After selecting a name for your LLC, you can reserve it with the Ohio Secretary of State to prevent another business from registering with it before you legally organize in the state. File a Name Reservation application with the Secretary of State online or through the mail to reserve a name for up to 180 days. The name reservation filing fee is $39.

2. Designate a registered agent

As in every U.S. state, forming an LLC in Ohio requires the appointment of a registered agent service to handle state and federal legal documents and service of process on the business’s behalf.

The registered agent must either be a state resident or business entity with a street address in Ohio OR if the individual or business is based out-of-state, they must have a business office in Ohio.

Our picks of the best registered agent services

  • Northwest Registered Agent: Starting a business requires a lot of state-mandated paperwork, which can be confusing for new business owners. Northwest offers business services that can help entrepreneurs find the right documentation, fill it out, and file it on time with the right government agency. In addition to helping you set up an LLC, Northwest has a host of additional services, like registered agent services, that new owners will find useful too.
  • ZenBusiness: There’s no need to stress about filing paperwork when you work with ZenBusiness. This company offers a great variety of LLC services, the focus of which is to ensure your business is set up correctly with the proper paperwork filled out and delivered to the right branch of your state government. Of course, ZenBusiness does charge for their services, but customers say they get the most bang for their buck.
  • Harbor Compliance is a great fit for organizations that register in multiple states and for those who don’t want to pay excessive service fees. With their network and electronic document delivery, they help ensure your business never misses a legal notification.

FAQs

How do I choose a name for my Ohio LLC?

Before business formation, you’ll choose a name for your Ohio LLC. It must be unique and distinguishable from the names of existing businesses registered in Ohio. The name must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC” or “L.L.C.” You can check the availability of your desired name through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website to ensure it’s not already in use.

Are there annual requirements for LLCs in Ohio?

Ohio LLCs are not required to file an annual report, which is a unique feature compared to many other states. However, LLCs must maintain compliance with other state requirements, such as renewing any necessary licenses and permits and ensuring their registered agent information is up to date.

What is a statutory agent, and how is it different from a registered agent in Ohio?

In Ohio, a statutory agent is the same as a registered agent. The term refers to an individual or business entity appointed to receive legal documents, government communications, and important notices on behalf of the LLC. The statutory (registered) agent must have a physical address in Ohio and be available during normal business hours.

What is a foreign LLC, and how do I register one in Ohio?

A foreign LLC refers to an LLC that was formed in another state but wishes to do business in Ohio. To register, you must file a Foreign Registration Statement with the Ohio Secretary of State, along with the required filing fee. The LLC must also provide a certificate of good standing from its home state, proving it is in compliance there.

Can I have employees in my Ohio LLC?

Yes, an Ohio LLC can hire employees as part of its business operations. To do so, the LLC must obtain an EIN from the IRS, register for Ohio’s unemployment insurance, and comply with workers’ compensation regulations. Additionally, the LLC must adhere to all federal and Ohio laws for employment, including withholding income taxes and reporting new hires to the state.

Does Ohio offer DBAs?

Yes, Ohio recognizes the use of Doing Business As (DBA) names, also called a trade name or fictitious name, allowing businesses to operate under a name different from their legal entity name. This is particularly useful for sole proprietors, general partnerships, and even incorporations that wish to conduct business under a name that better represents their products or services.

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3. File Articles of Organization

An LLC is formed in Ohio through the filing of Articles of Organization for a Limited Liability Company with the Ohio Secretary of State.

The Articles of Organization must provide the following information:

  • LLC’s name, principal office address, email address, and phone number
  • LLC’s purpose (type of business)
  • Articles of Organization effective date
  • Whether the LLC is perpetual or will end at a set date
  • Registered agent name, address, and signature
  • Name, address, and signature of an LLC member, manager, or legal representative

You can file the articles online or by mail. The filing fee is $99.

4. Create an operating agreement

Although not a legally mandated step for forming an LLC in Ohio, drafting a comprehensive LLC operating agreement is strongly recommended for all nascent limited liability companies.

The operating agreement should do the following:

  1. Describe the LLC’s business structure
  2. Establish the individual responsibilities and obligations of LLC members
  3. Detail how the LLC will be run

Without an operating agreement clarifying the specific duties of its members, an LLC may face significant legal and operational difficulties.

5. Obtain an IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN) 

All newly formed LLCs in the United States must acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (with the exception of single-member LLCs). The nine-digit EIN is like a business’s social security number and is necessary to pay income tax, file tax returns, open business bank accounts, and perform many other important functions.

You can apply for an EIN online on the IRS website without paying a filing fee.

6. Fulfill your legal obligations

Once an LLC is registered, its members must devote attention to fulfilling legal requirements that apply for the duration of the company’s existence.

Obtain business licenses and permits

In Ohio, limited liability companies (LLCs) don’t need for statewide general business license. However, this does not mean an LLC can start operations without any regulatory compliance.

  • Vendor’s license: If you sell taxable goods or services, you will need a Vendor’s License, which is the state’s version of a seller’s permit. With this, your LLC will be able to collect and remit sales tax to the Division of Revenue. To obtain a Vendor’s License, LLCs can apply through the Form ST-1 or online through the Ohio Business Gateway for no fee.
  • Occupational licenses: For LLCs involved in certain professions or trades, Ohio mandates obtaining occupational licenses or permits. These are particularly relevant for businesses operating in fields such as healthcare, construction, real estate, and legal services. Obtaining these licenses typically involves meeting specific educational requirements, passing examinations, and possibly ongoing professional development to maintain the license.
  • Local licenses: Local licenses are another layer of regulatory compliance for LLCs in Ohio. The requirements for these licenses can vary significantly from one municipality or county to another, according to local ordinances and regulations. For instance, a local health department permit may be necessary for businesses involved in food service, while a zoning permit might be required for companies operating out of physical locations.

Use the Ohio.gov Start a Business website to determine which state licenses are required for your LLC to operate and follow the links to apply for them. For local business licensing regulations, contact a city or county clerk in the area where your LLC is located.

Understand state taxes

In Ohio, the taxation of limited liability companies (LLCs) primarily hinges on their chosen tax status and the nature of their business operations.

By default, LLCs are treated as pass-through entities, where the business itself is not subjected to business taxes. All business profits and losses of the LLC are transferred to its members, who then report this financial information on their personal tax returns.

  • Ohio tax rates: Ohio has a 5.75 percent state sales tax rate, a max local sales tax rate of 2.25 percent, and an average combined state and local sales tax rate of 7.24 percent.
  • Business Transaction and Use Tax: LLCs in Ohio may also be subject to the Business Transaction and Use Tax (BTUT), which applies to the gross receipts on various activities such as providing services in Ohio (even to out-of-state customers), renting or leasing tangible personal property, and storing tangible personal property within the state for extended periods with the intent of eventual sale, lease, or rental.
  • Register with the Ohio Department of Taxation: Certain LLCs active in Ohio must register with the Ohio Department of Taxation in order to fulfill state tax obligations. This includes LLCs that collect sales tax on retail items and services and LLCs that have employees.

You can register to pay most state taxes online using the Ohio Business Gateway, although there may be cases where a file form must be mailed to the DOT.

Understand BOI reporting

As of 2024, new federal Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) reporting rules have been introduced and apply to all states, including Ohio. These rules mandate that certain corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and similar entities report the personal information of their beneficial owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Beneficial owner defined

A “beneficial owner” is defined as any individual who, directly or indirectly, exercises substantial control over the entity or owns or controls at least 25% of the ownership interests of the entity.

Filing deadlines

This report only needs to be completed one time, and again if your BOI changes in the future. The deadlines depend on when you formed your entity, as follows:

  • Businesses formed before 2024 must complete filing by the end of 2024.
  • Businesses formed in 2024 must file within 90 days of completion of formation.
  • In 2025, new businesses will need to file within 30 days of completion of formation.

Learn more about BOI Reporting.

LegalZoom can help you file a compliant and stress-free BOI Report for only $149.

FAQs

How do I choose a name for my Ohio LLC?

Before business formation, you’ll choose a name for your Ohio LLC. It must be unique and distinguishable from the names of existing businesses registered in Ohio. The name must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC” or “L.L.C.” You can check the availability of your desired name through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website to ensure it’s not already in use.

Are there annual requirements for LLCs in Ohio?

Ohio LLCs are not required to file an annual report, which is a unique feature compared to many other states. However, LLCs must maintain compliance with other state requirements, such as renewing any necessary licenses and permits and ensuring their registered agent information is up to date.

What is a statutory agent, and how is it different from a registered agent in Ohio?

In Ohio, a statutory agent is the same as a registered agent. The term refers to an individual or business entity appointed to receive legal documents, government communications, and important notices on behalf of the LLC. The statutory (registered) agent must have a physical address in Ohio and be available during normal business hours.

What is a foreign LLC, and how do I register one in Ohio?

A foreign LLC refers to an LLC that was formed in another state but wishes to do business in Ohio. To register, you must file a Foreign Registration Statement with the Ohio Secretary of State, along with the required filing fee. The LLC must also provide a certificate of good standing from its home state, proving it is in compliance there.

Can I have employees in my Ohio LLC?

Yes, an Ohio LLC can hire employees as part of its business operations. To do so, the LLC must obtain an EIN from the IRS, register for Ohio’s unemployment insurance, and comply with workers’ compensation regulations. Additionally, the LLC must adhere to all federal and Ohio laws for employment, including withholding income taxes and reporting new hires to the state.

Does Ohio offer DBAs?

Yes, Ohio recognizes the use of Doing Business As (DBA) names, also called a trade name or fictitious name, allowing businesses to operate under a name different from their legal entity name. This is particularly useful for sole proprietors, general partnerships, and even incorporations that wish to conduct business under a name that better represents their products or services.

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Post LLC tasks

Set up business bank accounts

Establishing a business bank account is an essential first step for any aspiring business owner. It provides a way to manage funds and distinguish the company’s assets from personal ones.

This division is essential for tax and legal purposes, as it streamlines accounting procedures and tax filing. Additionally, setting up payment processing systems, handling payroll, and applying for business loans all frequently call for a business bank account.

In recent years, a number of FinTech companies have begun to offer customized banking solutions for companies, fusing traditional banking services with a digital approach that simplifies banking. Some common options include Found, Relay, and Mercury, which all cater to startups, but you can also consider local Ohio banks that may have favorable rates.

Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing

In Ohio, LLCs can obtain a Certificate of Fact of Existence/Registration to confirm their existence and active status in the state.

  • Why you need it: The certificate provides crucial details such as the business name, filing date, type of legal entity, and its current active status, serving as an official acknowledgment of the LLC’s legitimacy and compliance with state requirements.
  • How to get it: This essential document can be ordered through various methods, including online, mail, fax, email, or in-person visits to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. The cost for obtaining this certificate is $20 for regular processing, with additional charges for mailing fees.

Build a website

No matter what type of business your LLC is going to be, you should have a website. Most customers will start online when trying to find your business, and it is important to appear legitimate and credible by having a website available.

While every LLC owner knows a website is necessary, you might not know where to start. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Search for and purchase a domain name.
  2. Sign up for web hosting.
  3. Pick a web builder like Domain.com or GoDaddy to create a site with no coding experience necessary.
  4. Tailor your site to your customers, adding appropriate pages, content, and images.
  5. If you’re selling goods, add an e-commerce section to your site.
  6. Review, test, and publish your site.

Domain name availability

Start exploring domain name registration as you name your business. Choose one that is the same as your company’s legal name. Websites like GoDaddy and domain.com make it easy to find available domain names and buy them for your own business. You can do this even before you’ve formed your LLC to ensure the name remains yours.

Costs to set up an LLC in Ohio

Average cost to set up an LLC in Ohio: $99-$299

One of the biggest benefits of an LLC for small business owners is how quickly it can be set up, and how relatively inexpensive the process is. The bulk of the cost comes from filing your Articles of Organization, but there are several other fees to be aware of.

  • Incorporation fees: In Ohio, to file Articles of Organization, you’ll pay $99 for normal processing time. Expedited processing is also available for between $100 and $300.
  • No Annual Report filing fee: Ohio LLCs don’t file an Annual Report, so there’s no fee to worry about.
  • Registered agent service fees (optional): Optionally, you may decide to hire a commercial registered agent. If you do, you’ll pay an annual fee for the service. Expect to pay between $50 to $200 for the service. When confidential documents are sent to your business, the professional registered agent service will collect, scan, and notify you of them, usually on the same business day.

Foreign LLC registration

An LLC formed in another state that plans to do business in Ohio must register with the Ohio Secretary of State.

Follow these steps to do business in Ohio as a foreign LLC:

  1. Follow Ohio LLC naming guidelines and confirm that your LLC’s name is available for use in the states with the Ohio Secretary of State Business Search.
  2. Appoint an Ohio registered agent.
  3. File a Registration of a Foreign Limited Liability Company with the Ohio Secretary of State. The application can be filed online or by mail. The filing fee is $99. The application must be accompanied by either a Certificate of Good Standing or a Certificate of Existence from the LLC’s home state that is dated fewer than 60 days prior to its filing with the Ohio Secretary of State.

FAQs

How do I choose a name for my Ohio LLC?

Before business formation, you’ll choose a name for your Ohio LLC. It must be unique and distinguishable from the names of existing businesses registered in Ohio. The name must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC” or “L.L.C.” You can check the availability of your desired name through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website to ensure it’s not already in use.

Are there annual requirements for LLCs in Ohio?

Ohio LLCs are not required to file an annual report, which is a unique feature compared to many other states. However, LLCs must maintain compliance with other state requirements, such as renewing any necessary licenses and permits and ensuring their registered agent information is up to date.

What is a statutory agent, and how is it different from a registered agent in Ohio?

In Ohio, a statutory agent is the same as a registered agent. The term refers to an individual or business entity appointed to receive legal documents, government communications, and important notices on behalf of the LLC. The statutory (registered) agent must have a physical address in Ohio and be available during normal business hours.

What is a foreign LLC, and how do I register one in Ohio?

A foreign LLC refers to an LLC that was formed in another state but wishes to do business in Ohio. To register, you must file a Foreign Registration Statement with the Ohio Secretary of State, along with the required filing fee. The LLC must also provide a certificate of good standing from its home state, proving it is in compliance there.

Can I have employees in my Ohio LLC?

Yes, an Ohio LLC can hire employees as part of its business operations. To do so, the LLC must obtain an EIN from the IRS, register for Ohio’s unemployment insurance, and comply with workers’ compensation regulations. Additionally, the LLC must adhere to all federal and Ohio laws for employment, including withholding income taxes and reporting new hires to the state.

Does Ohio offer DBAs?

Yes, Ohio recognizes the use of Doing Business As (DBA) names, also called a trade name or fictitious name, allowing businesses to operate under a name different from their legal entity name. This is particularly useful for sole proprietors, general partnerships, and even incorporations that wish to conduct business under a name that better represents their products or services.

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