Setting up an LLC in Ohio is an easy and straightforward process and helps gain access to a limited amount of corporate style protections. It's a type of business structure that brings together the elements of a partnership and corporate structures. In Ohio, an LLC can be formed for profit or nonprofit purposes.

What Is a Limited Liability Company?

An LLC provides certain corporate protections while being more flexible than a corporation. It's well suited for companies with only one owner. Owners are granted limited liability in an LLC, but it does not mean they have full protection from personal liabilities. If an LLC is sued, the owner's assets are protected but the business assets are not. There are exceptions but these are not to be relied upon.

Starting an LLC in Ohio

LLCs are easy and affordable to form in the state of Ohio, but the state has some unique requirements of LLCs. Before starting the registration process, it's important to understand what an LLC is and if it's a business structure that's viable for your company. 

Those who are interested in starting an LLC have to register with the Secretary of State by filing the required forms, paying the fees, and meeting all requirements with regards to naming and formation. It takes about three to seven business days for the Secretary of State to process and file the documents. Processing time may take longer in the event the state has a heavy volume of documents for registering an LLC. Expedited processing services are offered which reduce the processing time to four hours. All LLC companies have to register with the Ohio Secretary of State so as to lawfully conduct business within the state.

Naming Your LLC

This is the first and most important step in starting an LLC. A little research is necessary to make sure the chosen name is suited to the business and is easily found or searched for by potential clients. Also necessary is making sure the name follows the state guidelines and does not use restricted words or punctuation, abbreviations, or contractions that do not distinguish one name from another. These words include:

  • Using "&" instead of "and"
  • Turning the plural into singular or vice versa
  • Using hyphens to separate conjoined words
  • Spelling out words instead of using abbreviations
  • Using The, A, An, And, But, and Or
  • Using Company, Corporation, LP, Limited Liability Company or LLC

Prohibited words are ones that could confuse the name of your LLC with that of a state or federal agency. 

Check to make sure that the chosen LLC name isn't already in use by doing a name search on the state of Ohio's website. Make the name as distinguishable as possible from existing names in order to avoid rejection from the Secretary of State.

Selecting a Registered Agent

All LLCs in Ohio need to have a statutory agent in order to receive service of process along with sending and receiving legal papers on behalf of the LLC. A registered agent is an individual or corporation authorized to conduct business in Ohio and has a permanent address in the state. A single agent can use a P.O. Box for their agent address, but they have to certify they are an Ohio resident by ticking the appropriate box in the Articles of Organization. A registered agent can come from within the organization and that includes the person who sets up the LLC.

Filing the Articles of Organization

A LLC has to file Articles of Organization with the Ohio Secretary of State in order to become legally organized. The legal existence of the LLC begins when the Articles are filed with the Secretary of State or a later date that's specified in the Articles. The effective date has to be the date of filing or a future date and cannot be more than 90 days after the date of filing with the Secretary of State.

The Articles have to be signed by an authorized representative of the LLC. The filing itself can be done by mail, in person, or online. The decision if the LLC is to be managed by members or a manager has to be made at the time of filing. Pay the filing fee when submitting the Articles. If expedited filing is requested, check the Ohio Secretary of State's website for information on current fees.

If you need help with setting up an LLC in Ohio, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.