1. How to Form an LLC in Ohio: First Steps
2. Important Documents

State of Ohio LLC forms include specific documents you must file with the state to create a new business. These documents include Articles of Organization and certain business licenses and permits, depending on your jurisdiction. Optional forms include name reservation forms and pre-clearance forms.

How to Form an LLC in Ohio: First Steps

Naming your LLC is the first thing you'll do when starting a business. It's also one of the most important, so conduct some research to select a name well-suited for your business. You also want a name potential clients can easily remember.

Ohio has some naming guidelines you must follow:

  • Your business name has to end with LLC, L.L.C., or Limited Liability Company.
  • Some words are restricted, like “Bank” or “University,” requiring additional paperwork and/or a licensed professional to be part of your business.
  • Other words are prohibited, such as “FBI” or “Treasury,” to avoid confusion between your LLC and a state or federal agency.
  • Your business name has to be distinguishable from existing entities in Ohio.

Conduct a name search on the State of Ohio website to make sure your desired business name is available. If you wish to reserve a business name, you can file a reservation form with the state. It costs $39 to reserve a name for up to six months.

Next, you must designate a statutory agent — also called an agent for service of process, resident agent, or registered agent — for your LLC. This is an individual or company that receives and sends legal papers on your LLC's behalf. Papers may include state filings and service of process.

Statutory agents must be Ohio residents with a physical street address. Alternately, they may be companies authorized to do business in the state. You can choose someone in your company to be your statutory agent, including yourself.

Important Documents

File an Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State office to officially create your LLC. You must indicate in your Articles if your company will be manager-managed or member-managed.

You must include the following information in your Articles:

  • Your business name and address
  • Your statutory agent's name, address, and signature
  • The business's dissolution date, if any

You can file your Articles by mail, in person, or online, and it costs between $99 - $125 to file.

If you're not sure your filing will be accepted, you might want to submit a pre-clearance filing. The state will then advise you on the acceptability of your proposed filing. You might want to do this if this is your first time preparing LLC paperwork and you're doing it without legal assistance. Choose "Pre-clearance Filing" on your form and submit it in person or mail it in. You should know the results of your pre-clearance filing in one to two business days.

Create an operating agreement for your LLC, which is a legal document that outlines its ownership and operating procedures. The state of Ohio doesn't require you to have one or file it with the state, but it's good practice to create one for your own records.

You'll need to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS. Also known as a Federal Tax ID Number or EIN, this nine-digit number will identify your business, similar to a social security number. It's free to obtain one after you form your LLC.

You'll need an EIN for the following:

  • Filing state taxes
  • Filing federal taxes
  • Opening a business checking account

You can apply online or by mail.

You may also need certain city and state business licenses, depending on your jurisdiction and the type of business you operate. In addition, you may need to register with the Department of Revenue (DOR) if you'll be selling products and collecting sales tax or you hire employees. Register with the DOR online or by mail.

Ohio, like many other states, makes it simple and inexpensive to form an LLC. These business types are often ideal for small business owners who want the liability protection and tax benefits LLCs offer. You can always refer to the Ohio Secretary of State website for additional information and resources for starting your business there.

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