A state of Ohio business registration is relatively straightforward. Simply submit your choice of name to the Secretary of State via the official form. That office checks their database to determine whether or not the name is already in use by some other business. However, if you must obtain a license for your business, that's the Department of Commerce's purview.
How to Perform a Name Registration
If you're planning to run a business in Ohio under a name other than your legal name, you must complete an Ohio business name registration with the Secretary of State. How you must register depends on how the ownership of your business is set up. For example:
- Sole proprietor: Your business's legal name is your complete legal name, but you can register a "doing business as" name with the Secretary of State.
- Partnerships: must list the surnames of the partners, or register a "doing business as" name.
- Limited Liability Company or Corporation: The business name is the name used when registering it with the Secretary of State at the time of the venture's formation.
Checking Name Availability
The Ohio Secretary of State's office checks to ensure that your proposed business name doesn't conflict with that of other current or reserved names. The actual name is what counts, not the type of business ownership. If you want to call your business the XYZ Corporation, you can't have that name if an XYZ LLC already exists.
There is one way to obtain a business name that's not distinguishable from another Ohio registered business name. You must receive consent from the individual or company holding the registered name. You must file Form 590, "Consent of Use of Similar Name" with the other documents submitted to register your business.
Forms and Fees
You can file online from the Secretary of State's website. A for-profit corporation, for example, will need to file the initial articles of incorporation. To file the articles of incorporation, you will need to pay a fee of $99. Other forms and fees may apply.
If you wish to receive forms directly rather than downloading or if you have any questions, call 1-877-767-3453. You can also pick up forms and pay fees in cash at the:
Client Service Center
22 North Fourth Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215.