STEP 2: Register a business name in Ohio
To conduct business in the State of Ohio, you will need to register your business name with the Secretary of State if you’ll be using a name other than your personal name.
Dependent on the business structure that you have decided to use, there are different name requirements:
- Sole proprietors: If you are not using your full legal personal name, then you will need to register a ‘Doing Business As Usual’ or DBA with the Secretary of State.
- Partnership: In the case of a partnership, you would either list the last names of the partners or would need to register a DBA.
- LLC: The legal business name is the name registered when the LLC was formed.
- Corporation: The corporation business name registration requirements are the same as an LLC – and would be registered upon formation.
How to check a business name availability in Ohio
- Go to the Ohio Secretary of State website to check the availability of your business name.
- Check if your business name is similar to any other registered business name. For example, if you wanted to call your business Bedtown LLC, but there is a corporation called Bedtown corporation, you will not be able to register the same business name – even though they are completely different business entities.
The Secretary of State Business Entity Database gives information on any registered sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and corporations in Ohio.
How to register your business name
1. Sole proprietorship business name
- Trade name registration: Complete the Name Registration form on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. You can also reserve the business name for up to 180 days by filling out Form 534B.
- Fictitious business name: Complete a fictitious name registration form on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website.
2. Partnership business name
Trade name registration: If you are going to be using a trade name, instead of the partner’s names, your will need to complete a Form 534 with the Ohio Secretary of State.
- Fictitious business name: Check with your county or city clerk’s office for any local fictitious name registration requirements.
- Trademark: Although it isn’t a requirement, it is also advisable to register your business name as a federal or state trademark.
3. LLC business name
- LLC Business name requirements: When registering an LLC name in Ohio, the name must contain the words “limited liability company” or “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” “limited,” “ltd.,” or “ltd”.
- File articles of organization: The business name is registered when the articles of organization is filed.
4. Corporation business name
- Corporation business name requirements: Your corporation’s name must include the words “Corporation,” “Company,” or “Incorporated,” or their abbreviations.
- Business name reservation: You can reserve the name of your business for 180 days by filing a Name Reservation with the Ohio Secretary of State.
- File articles of incorporation: When you file the Articles of Incorporation, your business name will also be registered.