How to Start an LLC in Ohio

Cost to Start an LLC in Ohio

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Starting an LLC in Ohio is easy

To start an LLC in Ohio you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the Ohio Secretary of State, which costs $99. You can apply online, by mail, or in-person. The Articles of Organization is the legal document that officially creates your Ohio Limited Liability Company.

Follow the step-by-step guide below to start your Ohio LLC today and get your business up and running.

Steps to start an L L C in Ohio

STEP 1: Name Your Ohio LLC

Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your Ohio LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Ohio naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.

1. Follow the naming guidelines:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
  • Your name must be distinguishable from any other Ohio limited liability company, corporation, limited liability partnership, limited partnership, or trade name.

2. Is the name available in Ohio? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a name search on the State of Ohio's website.

3. Is the URL available? We recommend that you check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our LLC Name Generator.

FAQ: Naming an Ohio LLC

What is an LLC?

LLC is short for Limited Liability Company. It is a simple business structure that offers more flexibility than a traditional corporation while providing many of the same benefits. An LLC is one of several business structures, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation (C corp and S corp). For more information, read our What is an LLC guide.

Watch our video: What is an LLC?

Do I need to get a DBA or Trade Name for my business?

Most LLCs do not need a DBA. The name of the LLC can serve as your company’s brand name and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under another name.

To learn more about DBAs in your state, read our How to File a DBA in Ohio guide.

STEP 2: Choose a Statutory Agent in Ohio

You are required to appoint an Ohio statutory agent for your LLC. A statutory agent is more commonly known as a registered agent in other states.

What is a statutory agent? A statutory agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important tax forms, legal documents, notice of lawsuits, and official government correspondence on behalf of your business. Think of your statutory agent as your business's point of contact with the state.

Who can be a statutory agent? A statutory agent must be a resident of Ohio or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in Ohio. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.

Recommended: ZenBusiness provides the first year of registered agent service free with LLC formation ($39 + State Fees)

FAQ: Appointing an Ohio Statutory Agent

Can I be my own statutory agent?

Yes. You or anyone else in your company can serve as the statutory agent for your Ohio LLC.

Read more about being your own statutory agent.

Is a registered agent service worth it?

Using a professional registered agent service is an affordable way to manage government filings for your Ohio LLC. For most businesses, the advantages of using a professional service significantly outweigh the annual costs.

For more information, read our article on Ohio statutory agents.

STEP 3: File the Ohio LLC Articles of Organization

To register your Ohio LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the Ohio Secretary of State. You can apply online, in-person, or by mail. Some states refer to the Articles of Organization as the Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization.

Ohio LLC Formation Document

The Articles of Organization for an LLC (limited liability company) in Ohio is a legal document to officially form your business. You’ll be expected to provide the name of your LLC, choose a statutory agent, list the services your LLC will offer, and pay the state filing fee. After you file the Articles of Organization, we recommend you obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you plan to hire employees and open a business bank account. 

Now is a good time to consider whether your Ohio LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. We recommend learning more about member-managed vs manager-managed LLCs before you file.

File the Articles of Organization

OPTION 1: File Online with the Ohio Secretary of State

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail or In-Person

Download Form


State Filing Cost: $99, payable to the Ohio Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)

Mail to:
Ohio Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Ohio, you will need to form a Foreign LLC.

FAQ: Filing Ohio LLC Documents

How long does it take to form an LLC in Ohio?

Filing the Articles of Organization can take up to 7 business days, but processing times vary based on the number of filings received.

Expedited filings are also available for additional fees.

What is the difference between a domestic LLC and foreign LLC?

An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. Normally when we refer to an LLC we are actually referring to a domestic LLC. A foreign LLC must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state.

Read our What Is a Foreign LLC article to learn more.

STEP 4: Create an Ohio LLC Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is not required in Ohio, but it's a good practice to have one.

What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.

Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.

For more information on operating agreements, read our Ohio LLC operating agreement guide.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Download a template or create a Free Operating Agreement using our tool.

FAQ: Creating an Ohio LLC Operating Agreement

Do I need to file my operating agreement with the state?

No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.

STEP 5: Get an Ohio LLC EIN

What is an EIN? EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. EINs are a nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help identify businesses for tax purposes. It is essentially a social security number for a business. 

An EIN is sometimes referred to as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN).

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN is required to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File and manage Federal and State Taxes
  • Hire employees

Where do I get an EIN? You can get an EIN for free from the IRS. Getting an EIN is an easy process that can be done online or by mail.

Note
FOR INTERNATIONAL EIN APPLICANTS: You do not need a SSN to get an EIN. For more information, read ourHow to Get an EIN as a Foreign Person guide.

Get an EIN

Option 1: Request an EIN from the IRS

Apply Online

- OR -

Option 2: Apply for an EIN by Mail or Fax

Download Form

Mail to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax: (855) 641-6935

Fee: Free

FAQ: Getting an Ohio LLC EIN

How do I get an EIN if I don’t have a social security number?

An SSN is not required to get an EIN. You can simply fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Read our guide for international EIN applicants.

What tax structure should I choose for my Ohio LLC?

When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.

However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing the S corporation (S corp) status. To learn more, read our LLC vs S Corp guide.

Have a question? Leave a comment!

Ask us a question, tell us how we're doing, or share your experiences.
Join the conversation in our Comments Section.

Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?

We reviewed and ranked the top 5 LLC formation services.
Find out which is best for you.

Best LLC Services

Protect Your Business & Personal Assets

Business Banking for Personal Asset Protection

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Find the right bank for you, read our review of the Top 5 Banks for Your Small Business

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Learn more about the best small business credit cards.

Get Insurance

Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance are:

  • General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers against claims of malpractice and other business errors.
  • Workers' Compensation Insurance: A type of insurance that provides coverage for employees’ job-related illnesses, injuries, or deaths. In Ohio, businesses with one or more employees, excluding business owners, are required by law to have workers' compensation insurance. Get a free quote with ADP.
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

How much will the right insurance cost you? Click here to find out.

Properly Sign Legal Documents

Improperly signing a document as yourself and not as a representative of the business can leave you open to personal liability. When signing legal documents on behalf of your company, you could follow this formula to avoid problems:

  1. Formal name of your business
  2. Your signature
  3. Your name
  4. Your position in the business as its authorized representative

See the image below for an example.

How to properly sign a legal document: 1. Signature 2. Company Name 3. Printed Name 4. A Title

This ensures that you are signing on behalf of your LLC and not as yourself.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Learn more on how to protect your business & personal assets by reading our article - How to Maintain your LLC Corporate Veil.

Join the Conversation

We are here to guide you through your entrepreneurial journey, and are always looking at your feedback. Share your experiences in our comment box, chat with other entrepreneurs, or simply let us know how we're doing.

Lets Connect

Keep Your Company Compliant

Ohio LLC Permits & Licenses

Does my Ohio LLC need business licenses and permits?

To operate your Ohio LLC you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

The details of business licenses and permits vary from state to state. Make sure you read carefully. Don't be surprised if there are short classes required as well.

Fees for business licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of license you are seeking to obtain.

Find out how to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your business or have a professional service do it for you:

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: If you are a first-time entrepreneur, consider having a professional service research your business’s licensing requirements. Our friends at Startup Savant have reviewed and ranked the top five license research services.

Ohio LLC Tax Requirements

Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of state tax.

Sales Tax

If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for a seller's permit through the Ohio Business Gateway website.

This certificate allows a business to collect sales tax on taxable sales.

Sales tax, also called "Sales and Use Tax," is a tax levied by states, counties, and municipalities on business transactions involving the exchange of certain taxable goods or services.

Read our sales tax guide to find out more.

Employer Taxes

If you have employees in Ohio, you will need to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. You will also need to sign up for Employee Withholding Tax through the Ohio Business Gateway.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Register for Ohio State Taxes

Sales Tax | Unemployment Insurance Tax | Withholding Tax

Federal LLC Tax Requirements

Most LLCs will need to report their income to the IRS each year using:

How you pay yourself as an owner will also affect your federal taxes. Visit our guide to learn more about how to pay yourself from your LLC.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Read our LLC Tax Guide to learn more about federal income taxes for LLCs.

FAQ: Additional Taxes

What is the Ohio Commercial Activity Tax?

There is a Commercial Activity Tax for each LLC formed in Ohio which varies depending upon your LLC’s income.

Commercial Activity Tax

In Ohio, LLCs with gross receipts exceeding $150,000 per year are required to pay a commercial activity tax. LLCs with less than $150,000 in gross receipts are exempt from this tax.

Register for Commercial Activity Tax in Ohio

OPTION 1: File Online with the State of Ohio

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Download Form


Fee: Free

Mail to:
Ohio Department of Taxation
Business Tax Division
P.O. Box 16158
Columbus, OH 43216

Due Date: May 10th of the current tax year (the CAT is a prepaid tax)

Late filing penalty: A late filing incurs a penalty of $50 or 10% of the tax due, whichever is greater. Interest may be assessed on unpaid taxes.

FAQ: Ohio LLC Commercial Activity Tax

What are the LLC income brackets for the Commercial Activity Tax?

  • LLCs with less than $150,000 in gross receipts do not pay this tax
  • LLCs with between $150,000 and $1 million in gross receipts pay $150.
  • LLCs with $1,000,000+ in gross receipts file and pay returns on a quarterly basis,
  • If you form an LLC during the second half of the year, your first year's CAT is $75.
  • If your taxable gross receipts total more than $1,000,000 but less than $2,000,000, you pay an $800 minimum tax.
  • If your taxable gross receipts total more than $2,000,000 but less than $4,000,000, you pay a $2,100 minimum tax.
  • If your taxable gross receipts exceed $4,000,000, you pay a $2,600 minimum tax.
  • You also pay a 0.26% tax rate on all gross receipts beyond $1,000,000 (0.26% x (Taxable Gross Receipts - $1 Million))

Avoid Automatic Dissolution

LLCs may face fines and even automatic dissolution when they miss one or more state filings. When this happens, LLC owners risk the loss of limited liability protection. A quality registered agent service can help prevent this outcome by notifying you of upcoming filing deadlines and by submitting reports on your behalf.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: ZenBusiness offers a reliable registered agent service and excellent customer support.

Get Help Starting a Business in Ohio

We understand that creating an LLC and getting your business up and running comes with many challenges. To help you succeed, we compiled the best local resources in every major metro area in Ohio. You can get free assistance in the following areas:

Cincinnati | Cleveland-Akron | Columbus | Dayton | Toledo

Make Running Your Business Easier

After starting a business, two of the most important things you can do are get professional accounting and hire the right employees. Streamlining these processes can save you time and money as your business grows.

Hiring Employees in Ohio

If you plan to hire employees for your Ohio LLC, stay compliant with the law by following these steps:

Interested in more? Have a look at the Ohio State Website.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Check out our Hiring for your Small Business Guide for resources like sample job descriptions, payroll service reviews, and more.

FAQ: Hiring Employees in Ohio

What is the minimum wage in Ohio?

The minimum wage in Ohio is $8.70 per hour.

How often do I need to pay employees in Ohio?

Ohio requires wages to be paid regularly at least twice per month.

Accounting For Your Ohio LLC

It’s critical to get your books in order, even if you haven’t officially opened for business. A well-managed accounting system will help you:

  • Track your business finances, including bills, expenses, and income.
  • Simplify your annual tax filings.

You can maintain your accounting in two ways:

  • Use a DIY accounting software. This can come with an increased risk of errors especially when starting a new business.
  • Hire an accounting service. They can provide comprehensive advice to help optimize your bookkeeping and taxes as well as additional services such as payroll etc.
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Recommended: For most small businesses, we recommend using a reputable accounting service. Schedule a free tax consultation for your business now to avoid costly errors in the future.

Interfacing with Clients and Customers

In the day-to-day of running a business, it's hard to be readily available for new clients or customers who want to contact you. For service-based businesses that don’t already have a brick-and-mortar location, a virtual office can solve this problem. You can get a dedicated business mailing address and a business phone number with call-forwarding so that you never need to worry about losing a potential customer.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Opus Virtual Office can set up your businesses with a live receptionist and all the perks of a virtual office for a great price of $99/month. Plus, as a visitor of HowToStartAnLLC, you can save $200 today.

Women in Business Tools and Resources

If you have a woman-owned business, many resources are available to help you concentrate on your business’s growth:

  • Funding - (ie. grants, investors, loans)
  • Events - (ie. conferences, meetups)
  • Guides - (ie. business formation, personal growth)
  • Support - (ie. advice, communities, business strategies)

Our information and tools will provide educational sources, allow you to connect with other women entrepreneurs, and help you manage your business with ease.

Video Guides

TRUiC has created video guides to support and reinforce our on-page guides. These videos help to visualize the ideas and lessons that you need to know to create and run a successful business.

How to Form an Ohio LLC Video Playlist 
Business Ideas Video Playlist

Check out our growing library of small business videos on the TRUiC YouTube channel.

More Information

Ohio Foreign LLCs

Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. If you have an existing LLC and want to do business in Ohio, you will need to register as a foreign LLC. This can be done online or by mail.

Register as a Foreign LLC in Ohio

OPTION 1: File Online with the State of Ohio

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Download Form


Fee: $99 (Nonrefundable)

2-Day Expedited Fee: Additional $100

Mail to:
Ohio Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

Expedited Filings:
Ohio Secretary of State
P.O. Box 1390
Columbus, OH 43216

How to Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing

A Certificate of Good Standing verifies that your Ohio LLC was legally formed and has been properly maintained. Several instances where you might need to get one include:

  • Seeking funding from banks or other lenders
  • Forming your business as a foreign LLC in another state
  • Obtaining or renewing specific business licenses or permits

You can order an Ohio LLC Certificate of Good Standing online, by mail, or in-person.

Order a Certificate of Good Standing

OPTION 1: Request a Certificate Online

Request Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: Request by Mail or In-Person

Download Form


Fee: $5 Normal; $25 Long-Form (Both are nonrefundable)

Mail to:
Ohio Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

In-Person:
Ohio Secretary of State
180 E. Broad St, 16th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215

Dissolve Your Ohio LLC

If at any point in the future you no longer wish to conduct business with your Ohio LLC, it is important to officially dissolve it. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can result in tax liabilities and penalties, or even legal trouble. To dissolve your Ohio LLC, there are two broad steps:

  • Close your business tax accounts
  • File the Ohio LLC dissolution form

When you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Ohio LLC Dissolution Guide.

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