How to Form an LLC in Ohio in 7 Steps

A limited liability company (LLC) is a type of business entity that is popular among many small business owners and entrepreneurs. If you are ready to get started, follow our step-by-step guide to create an Ohio LLC.

7 Steps to Form an LLC in Ohio

1

Name Your LLC

Your first action is to determine a legally proper LLC name. Once you name your Ohio LLC, your next step will be to protect the name.

Ohio law requires that the business name be unique and different from any other company's name. Additionally, the name you select must:

  • Include the words limited liability company" or "limited," or the abbreviations "LLC," "L.L.C.," "ltd," or "ltd"
  • Not be offensive or contain an ethnic or religious slur
  • Not confuse people that your LLC is a government agency

Search the Business Name. Search the Ohio business organization database to make sure that the name is not in use by any other Ohio company. You may also want to ensure that the internet domain name is available. Look up your name on search engines to see if anyone else is using it. Finally, check the name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You don't want to infringe on a registered trademark or tradename.

Reserve Your Business Name. The state allows you to reserve the name for 180 days before registering it, if you want, using Form 534B for that name reservation.

Protect Your Business Name. Now that you have established a business name, you want to be sure no one else can use it in business or on the internet. Register your business name as a domain name for your business website. If you want to do business nationally or operate in several other states, you should trademark the name with the USPTO. Once you receive your federal trademark, you can apply to the Ohio Secretary of State to register it as an Ohio trademark or service mark. You may also trademark the name with just the state, without a federal trademark.

Additionally, if you are doing business as a DBA (or trade name), you must register that fictitious name with the Ohio Secretary of State using Form 534A.

2

Get a Statutory Agent

The state of Ohio requires an LLC to appoint a statutory agent for service of process before formally registering with the state. Other states refer to the statutory agent as a "registered agent." A statutory agent receives legal documents on behalf of the LLC. An Ohio registered agent can be an individual or a company; however, they must have a physical street address in Ohio. An LLC owner often chooses a professional registered agent service to serve as the statutory agent.

3

File Your Articles of Organization

You are now ready to compose and file your Ohio articles of organization with the Ohio Secretary of State.

Your Ohio articles of organization should contain the following information:

  • Name of LLC
  • The effective date of the LLC (optional)
  • LLC's period of existence (optional; there is no end date)
  • Purpose of the LLC (optional)
  • Name, contact information, and signature of the statutory agent
  • Name and signature of the member, manager, or company representative filling out the articles
  • State and date of original filing if a foreign (out of state) LLC

The articles of organization are then filed with the Secretary of State using Form 533A for domestic (Ohio) companies and Form 533B for a foreign LLC. There is a $99 filing fee. The process takes seven to ten business days, but you can expedite the process for an additional fee.

Or you can kickstart your LLC formation with our trusted partner, LegalZoom. They will check if your business name is available and file your articles of organization for $0 plus state filing fees.

4

Draft an LLC Operating Agreement

While Ohio does not require business owners to create an operating agreement, doing so is in your best interest. An LLC operating agreement lays out the internal structure of your LLC business and clarifies procedures and rules. It often includes:

  • Each member's percentage of ownership
  • If it is manager-managed or member-managed
  • Voting rights
  • Responsibilities of managers and members
  • How to distribute profits and losses
  • When to hold member meetings
  • Rules for buying out members' interests
  • Dissolution procedures

5

Get an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a Federal Tax Identification number or a federal employer identification number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify businesses. It is like a Social Security number for your LLC. It is used for paying taxes and for doing withholding for employees. It is free to apply for and can be obtained from the IRS website.

An EIN is only required if you have more than one member or if you have one member and will have employees. Sole proprietor LLCs are not required to obtain an EIN unless they plan to hire employees.

6

Set Up Business and Tax Accounts

Once you start an LLC in Ohio, you should open a business banking account and register for taxpayer accounts with the state and local governments. The Ohio Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has a starting your business in Ohio guide about tax and business registration.

7

File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report (BOIR)

Once your LLC has been formed, you need to file a Beneficial Ownership Information Report (BOIR). Deadlines for filing this report vary based on when you create your LLC. If you create your LLC in 2024, you must file within 90 days from the day your LLC received notice of its creation/registration or 90 days from the day the Secretary of State or similar office first provided public notice of your company’s creation/registration, whichever is earlier. If you form your LLC after January 1, 2025, you must file within 30 calendar days from the date you receive actual or public notice of the LLC’s creation or registration. 

You will prepare and file your BOIR with FinCEN at  www.fincen.gov/boi. Be prepared to provide information regarding your LLC, its beneficial owners, and its applicants.  Applicants are those who directly filed the document that created or registered your LLC or were responsible for controlling the filing. Beneficial owners are people who have substantial control over your LLC and/or own a minimum of 25% of the ownership interests of an LLC.   

Note: On March 1, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama ruled that the Corporate Transparency Act was unconstitutional. At this time, it is unclear if the federal BOIR requirement will be enforceable. Business owners of LLCs formed before January 1, 2024, may want to wait until closer to the January 1, 2025 filing deadline to check if they must file a BOIR for their business. For LLCs formed in 2024, business owners may want to check right before their 90-day deadline to see if the BOIR requirement is applicable.

Business and Tax Requirements in Ohio

Be sure to register with the Ohio Department of Taxation so you can pay business taxes. If you plan to hire employees, you must set up accounts for withholding, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation. And you may need business licenses and permits for your LLC.

State Business Tax

If your LLC is set up for pass-through taxation, meaning the LLC's income goes on the members' individual income tax returns, there is no Ohio state tax. However, when your gross sales reach $150,000, you are liable for a Commercial Activity Tax.

State Employer Taxes

If your hire employees, even if they are also LLC members, you must handle payroll, withholding, and employment taxes. The state published a hiring guide for Ohio employers. When hiring employees, you must set up accounts for the following:

  • Employee Withholding. Complete Tax Withholding and School District Withholding Agent application (Form IT-1) with the Ohio Department of Taxation
  • Unemployment Insurance. Complete Report to Determine Liability (Form JFS20100) with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
  • Workers' Compensation. Complete the application for Workers' Compensation Coverage (Form U-3) with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.
  • New Hire Reporting. You must register new employees within 20 days of the hiring date with the Ohio Directory of New Hires.

Sales and Use Tax

If you are a vendor and sell to the public, you will have to register for a vendor's license with the Ohio Department of Taxation through the Ohio Business Gateway site. You must collect and remit the Ohio sales tax paid by your customers. The current state sales tax rate in Ohio is 5.75 percent.

And Ohio has a Commercial Activity Tax. Once your gross sales reach $150,000, you must register to pay the CAT.

Business License and Permits

Check with your local government to determine if you need a business license in your area or for your industry. The Ohio Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has a tax and business registration checklist for specific occupations and businesses.

Registration in Other States

You must register as a foreign LLC if you want your LLC to operate in another state. You may have to show a certificate of good status issued by the Ohio Secretary of State. Once the state accepts your LLC as a foreign LLC, you file annual franchise tax reports with the Secretary of State's office in that state. And you or your LLC may pay state taxes in that jurisdiction.

Annual Requirements in Ohio

Unlike other states, Ohio does not require LLCs to file annual reports or pay annual fees to keep the LLC in good standing.

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Disclaimer: The information presented here does not constitute legal advice or representation. It is general and educational in nature, may not reflect all recent legal developments, and may not apply to your unique facts and circumstances. Consider consulting with a qualified business attorney if you have legal questions.

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