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Planning to set up shop in Ohio? The first step you’ll need to take is to register a business name in Ohio. This fundamental process will not only establish your brand identity but also ensure that your business complies with the state’s regulations. Whether you choose to form an LLC or corporation or operate under a trade name, we’ve got you covered with a step-by-step guide to registering your business name in Ohio.
To streamline the process and get professional support, you can rely on ZenBusiness – a trusted partner in business services. Together, we’ll navigate the registration journey, so you can focus on growing your business in the Buckeye State.
4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in Ohio
Building a strong foundation for your business in Ohio begins with registering your business name. This essential process not only gives your brand its identity but also ensures that you operate within the state’s legal framework.
To get started, follow these four straightforward steps to officially register your business name in Ohio and embark on a journey of growth and prosperity in the heartland of America.
Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in Ohio
When registering your business name in Ohio, it’s crucial to choose the appropriate business structure based on your specific business nature and expansion plans. There are various options available for incorporated and unincorporated businesses in the state, each with its functions and legal implications. Let’s take a closer look at these choices:
A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure in Ohio, where the business owner and the business itself are considered one entity. As the owner, you personally assume responsibility for all business debts and liabilities. While registering a sole proprietorship with the state isn’t mandatory, you might need to obtain local permits or licenses.
In a general partnership, two or more individuals jointly own the business and share in its profits and losses. Each partner is personally liable for the business’s debts and legal obligations. Registering a general partnership with the state isn’t required, but filing an “Ohio Assumed Name Certificate” (DBA) may be necessary at the county level.
Limited Partnership (LP)
An LP in Ohio consists of general partners with unlimited personal liability who manage the business and limited partners who provide capital with limited liability. To establish an LP in Ohio, you need to file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the Ohio Secretary of State.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
An LLC offers a flexible business structure that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. To form an LLC in Ohio, you must file “Articles of Organization- Limited Liability Company” with the Ohio Secretary of State and create an Operating Agreement to outline management and ownership.
A corporation is a separate legal entity from its shareholders, offering limited liability protection. In Ohio, there are two types of corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations.
To establish a corporation, you need to file either “Articles of Incorporation- For-Profit Corporation” or “Articles of Incorporation- Nonprofit Corporation” with the Ohio Secretary of State, depending on your business’s nature. Corporations require more formalities, including creating bylaws, issuing stock, and conducting regular board and shareholder meetings.
Consider your business needs carefully, taking into account factors like liability protection, taxation, and management requirements when selecting the appropriate business structure in Ohio. If you need guidance in making this decision, it’s advisable to seek assistance from a legal or business professional. By making the right choice, you lay a strong foundation for your business’s success in Ohio.
Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in Ohio
In Ohio, there are specific guidelines you need to follow when naming your business. These include registering a legal entity name, obtaining a trademark, or operating under a different name while registering a legal one. It’s essential to be aware that naming rules and regulations can vary from state to state, so it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with Ohio’s requirements.
The decision on how to name your business in Ohio should align with your entity’s unique needs and circumstances. While you can explore all three naming options to secure exclusive ownership of your desired name, you can also choose a single route. Although not mandatory, maintaining consistency in the chosen name across all registration methods is generally recommended.
Let’s take a closer look at each naming option available in Ohio:
Legal Entity Name
In Ohio, businesses must register a legal entity name, which serves as the state’s official identification for the company. The entity name must be distinctive to ensure no other business shares the same name.
Ohio’s naming laws include guidelines for using appropriate company suffixes (e.g., LLC, LP, or Corp) and mandate that the name accurately reflects the type of business being registered. You can check name availability using the resources provided by the Ohio Secretary of State.
A trademark in Ohio provides intellectual property protection for a business name or logo at the national level. To safeguard your name or logo, conducting a comprehensive search within the USPTO database is crucial to ensure it hasn’t been registered already.
Once the trademark is registered, it grants exclusive rights and prevents others from using a similar name or logo for similar goods or services, offering nationwide protection. However, it’s important to note that obtaining a trademark doesn’t automatically grant unrestricted usage rights for the name or logo in all circumstances.
Doing Business As (DBA)
In Ohio, you have the option to register your business under an “official” name while operating under a different name, commonly known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. To establish a DBA, you need to file an Assumed Name Certificate (DBA) with the county clerk’s office in the county where your business is located. Unlike trademarks, uniqueness at the state level isn’t a requirement for a DBA, although federal trademark laws still apply.
By understanding and carefully considering these naming options, you can successfully register your business name in Ohio and protect your brand identity effectively. Ensure you comply with the state’s naming regulations and choose a name that sets your business apart while reflecting its essence and purpose.
Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in Ohio
Before finalizing your business name in Ohio, it’s crucial to ensure its availability. Conduct three essential searches to confirm its suitability:
Start by checking federal trademarks to ensure your preferred name isn’t already trademarked. This step is vital, as federal registrations override state-level ones. Use the TESS Search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website for this purpose.
Ohio Business Name Search
Once you’ve confirmed the name isn’t trademarked, proceed with checking its availability within Ohio using the Ohio Business Search tool. Ensure no other businesses are already using significantly similar names.
Website Domain Search
To secure your online presence, search for the availability of the .com domain version of your business name. Even if you don’t immediately plan to build a website, reserving the .com domain is recommended for future protection.
Registering your .com domain with ZenBusiness secures exclusivity, preventing others from using your website name.
Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of Ohio
Once you have chosen your business structure and name, the next step is to formally register your business with the State of Ohio.
To register your Ohio LLC, you must submit the Articles of Organization to the Ohio Secretary of State. This can be done either online or through the mail. For Ohio corporations, the registration requires the filing of the Articles of Incorporation with the Ohio Secretary of State.
You May Also Want to Know
Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark
After confirming the availability of your chosen business name and securing it, you have the option to apply for a trademark. This process typically costs around $225 to $400, along with potential attorney fees and a renewal fee every ten years.
While this may be a considerable expense for startups or small businesses, obtaining a trademark provides nationwide protection under federal law. It grants you legal precedence if others attempt to use a similar name for their business. However, for most small businesses, this may not be necessary unless they have ambitions to operate on a national scale.
How to File an Ohio Fictitious Name – DBA?
To file an Ohio Fictitious Name, also known as a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name, follow these steps:
- Choose a Name: Select a unique and available fictitious name for your business that’s not already in use by another entity in Ohio
- Search Availability: Check the Ohio Secretary of State’s business name database to ensure your chosen name isn’t already in use
- Register Your DBA: File a Fictitious Name Registration form with the Ohio Secretary of State. You can find the form on their website or request it by mail
- Filing Fee: Include the required filing fee with your registration form. The fee amount may vary, so check the latest fee schedule on the Secretary of State’s website
- Submission: Submit your completed registration form and fee either online or by mail to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office
- Renewal: Be aware of the registration’s expiration date. DBA registrations in Ohio typically need to be renewed every five years
By following these simple steps, you can successfully file a Fictitious Name (DBA) in Ohio, allowing you to operate your business under a name different from your legal entity name.
How to Change the Name of an Ohio Business?
Changing the name of your business in Ohio can be accomplished in two ways: either by obtaining a trade name or by submitting an amendment to the existing legal name.
For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, the simplest way to operate under a different name is to file for a trade name (also known as a DBA name) without altering the legal name.
LLCs and corporations can also utilize the trade name option, allowing them to operate with a brand name that omits the required “LLC” or “Inc.” suffix found in their legal name. This helps them avoid the complexities of filing an amendment while maintaining their business operations.
If you wish to officially change the legal name of your LLC or corporation, the best approach is to file an amendment to the existing legal name. You can find the necessary forms for both options on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, and these forms can be submitted either by mail or online, along with the required $50 filing fee.
Business Name Registration Laws in Ohio
Here is an overview of business name registration laws in Ohio:
- Business Name Availability: Before registering a business name in Ohio, you must ensure that the name is available for use. The state’s Secretary of State maintains a database of registered business names that you can search to check if your desired name is already in use. It’s also a good idea to conduct a broader search to ensure that your business name does not infringe on any existing trademarks.
- Business Entity Types: Ohio allows various types of business structures, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), and more. Each type has its own registration requirements and legal implications, so it’s crucial to choose the one that best suits your business needs.
- Registration Process: To register your business name in Ohio, you typically file the necessary documents with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. The specific requirements and forms depend on the type of business entity you choose. For example, if you want to register an LLC, you will need to file Articles of Organization.
- Trade Name Registration: If you want to operate your business under a name different from your legal business entity name (often known as a “doing business as” or DBA name), you may need to register a trade name. This process typically involves filing a Trade Name Registration with the Ohio Secretary of State or the county where your business is located.
- Trademarks: Business name registration does not automatically provide trademark protection. If you want exclusive rights to your business name, you should consider applying for a federal or state trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the Ohio Secretary of State.
- Professional Licenses: Some businesses, especially those providing professional services (e.g., doctors, lawyers, accountants), may require additional licenses or permits to operate legally in Ohio. Make sure to research and comply with any industry-specific licensing requirements.
- Renewals and Compliance: Once your business name is registered, you may need to file periodic reports or renew your registration to stay in good standing with the state.
It’s important to consult with a qualified attorney or a business advisor to ensure you follow all relevant laws and regulations when registering your business name in Ohio. Additionally, visit the official Ohio Secretary of State website for the most up-to-date information and forms related to business registration.
Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in Ohio
In summary, registering a business name in Ohio marks the commencement of an exciting entrepreneurial venture in the Buckeye State. Through strategic decisions in choosing a business structure and name, fulfilling all mandatory registrations, and considering trademark protections or fictitious name filings when appropriate, you establish a solid foundation for your business’s growth and prosperity.
Leveraging the expertise of reliable LLC services such as ZenBusiness can simplify the registration process and offer invaluable support, empowering your business to thrive in Ohio’s ever-evolving economic landscape.
How to register a business name in every US state: