How to File a DBA in Ohio

An Ohio DBA (doing business as) is called a trade name. Ohio trade name registration allows a business to operate under a name that’s different from its legal name.

DBA registration won’t protect your personal assets like forming an LLC or corporation will. Learn why in our DBA vs LLC guide.

Or, use a professional DBA service:

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Register a Trade Name in Ohio

Registering an Ohio trade name, also known as a DBA, is easy!

Learn How to File a DBA in Ohio yourself in two steps:

  1. Start with an Ohio Trade Name Search
  2. Register Your Ohio DBA

Note: A DBA is only used for branding. We recommend forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets.

Note that there is a difference between a “trade name” and a “fictitious” business name in Ohio (although both use the same registration form).

Trade names must be distinguishable from other business names, while fictitious names don’t have to be. Because of this, trade names offer more protection than fictitious names. This guide will focus on Ohio’s Trade Name Registration.

Step 1. Start with an Ohio Trade Name Search

Ohio trade names must be unique and must also meet Ohio’s business name requirements. 

First, visit the Ohio Secretary of State's Business Name Search website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.

Next, review the Ohio naming requirements. In Ohio, trade names should NOT include:

  • Any business entity suffix, such as LLC, Incorporated, Corp, etc., unless the business is actually an LLC, corporation, etc.
  • Profanity or words or phrases that are generally considered a slur against an ethnic group, religion, gender, or heredity.
  • Any of the following words without prior approval from the Superintendent of Financial Institutions: bank, banker, banking, trust, or words of similar meaning in any other language.
  • Words that imply that the business is connected with a government agency of Ohio, another state, or the United States.

We recommend checking if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You might not plan on starting a business website today, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.

Find a Domain Now

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Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?

If you need help coming up with a DBA name, try our business name generator. Then, create a unique logo for your brand with our free logo generator.

Step 2. Register Your Ohio DBA

Your Ohio trade name can be filed online or by mail with the Secretary of State. You can file online with the Secretary of State’s website, or you can complete the Name Registration form.

The application will ask for your new DBA name and legal information about your business, such as:

  • Whether you are filing for a trade name or a fictitious business name
  • The business structure of the applicant (partnership, LLC, etc.)
  • General nature of the business
  • Business owners’ names and addresses

A DBA does not offer any legal protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state.

File an Ohio Trade Name

Option 1: File Online With the Secretary of State

File Online

- OR -

Option 2: File the Name Registration Form by Mail

Download Form


Cost:
$39 Filing Fee

Mailing Address:
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216 

Manage Your Ohio Trade Name

General Questions
Call the Ohio Secretary of State: (614) 466-3910

Renew Your Trade Name with the State
Your Ohio trade name must be renewed every five years. The renewal fee is $25. You can complete the process online or mail the completed Renewal of Trade Name or Fictitious Name Registration form to the address below:

Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

Change Your Trade Name
To make changes to your trade name, complete the Change of Registrant Name form. Submit the form online or mail it to the address below:

Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

Withdraw Your Trade Name
To cancel your trade name, complete the Name Reservation/Transfer/Cancellation form. The fee is $25. File the form online or mail it to the address below:

Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

After Filing Your Ohio DBA

If filing a DBA marks the beginning of your business journey, then there are a few more steps that you should take before getting started:

  • Create your Business’s Website - Every business needs a website. Luckily, drag-and-drop builders like GoDaddy and Wix make the job quick and easy. Check out our Best Website Builder article to find the tool that’s best for you.
  • Get your Business Finances in Order - You’ll need to separate your business finances from your personal ones. This is accomplished by opening a business bank account. If your business has long lead times or other cash flow irregularities, you can also look into a business credit card.
  • Protect Your Business - While an LLC will help to protect your personal assets in the case of a lawsuit, your business’s assets also need protection. Having the right business insurance will ensure that you’re covered if the worst happens. Most businesses start with general liability insurance as their base coverage.

Need Help Filing Your Ohio DBA?

Have a Professional Service File Your Ohio DBA For You

A professional service will handle filing your DBA on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your business.

Recommended: MyCompanyWorks ($99 + state fee)

DBA Ohio FAQ

How many DBAs can I have?

You can have as many DBAs as you can afford to create and are able to keep track of. Each one comes with additional incremental expenses and paperwork, meaning more is not necessarily better.

Can a DBA get an EIN or Tax ID?

DBAs aren’t required to have a separate EIN because DBAs aren’t a business entity. The business entity that the DBA is under would have an EIN if an EIN is required.

To learn more about EINs and when you need one for your business, read our What is an EIN guide.

Can a DBA become an LLC?

No. An LLC is a business entity, while a DBA is just a name for a business.

Sole proprietorships are often confused with DBAs, but they are not the same: a sole proprietorship is a business entity, therefore it can choose to become an LLC.

To learn how to form an LLC, visit our Form an LLC state guides.

Can a DBA have Inc. in the name?

A DBA can only have Inc. in the name if the business entity the DBA is attached to is a corporation.

How do I set up a DBA for a rental property?

Holding a rental property in your name and with a DBA will not afford you any protection. The best option is to form an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of an issue with the rental property. In any case, it is always best to consult an attorney.

When would it be good to get a DBA versus a legal name change?

Getting a DBA is often a better choice than changing your business’s legal name. If you want to rebrand your company or focus on another line of business, filing for a DBA is a simpler process than filing for a legal name change.

Is my DBA protected from being used in other places?

Some state-level laws prevent DBAs that are too similar to existing ones from being used, but this varies from state to state. It is possible to trademark a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines.

Useful Links For Your Ohio DBA