How to Form an LLC in Ohio

Here are the steps you need to take to start a limited liability company (LLC) in Ohio.

Here are the steps you need to take to form an LLC in Ohio. For more information on how to form an LLC in any state, see Nolo's article How to Form an LLC.

  1. Choose a name for your LLC.
  2. Appoint a registered agent.
  3. File Articles of Organization.
  4. Prepare an operating agreement.
  5. Comply with tax and regulatory requirements.

1. Choose a Name for Your LLC

Under Ohio law, an LLC name must include one of the following: “limited liability company,” “limited,” “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” “ltd.,” or “ltd."

Your LLC’s name must be distinguishable from the names of other business entities already on file with the Ohio Secretary of State. Names may be checked for availability at the Ohio Secretary of State business name database.

You may reserve a name for 180 days by filing a Name Reservation (Form 534-B) with the Ohio Secretary of State. The application may be filed online or by mail.

2. Appoint a Registered Agent

Every Ohio LLC must have an agent for service of process in the state. The registered agent may be a Ohio resident or a domestic or foreign corporation authorized to do business in Ohio.

3. File Articles of Organization

An Ohio LLC is created by filing Articles of Organization for a Domestic Limited Liability Company (Form 533A) with the Ohio Secretary of State. The articles must include the LLC's name, its address, email, and phone number, and other basic information. The articles can be filed online or by postal mail.

4. Prepare an Operating Agreement

An LLC operating agreement is not required in Ohio but is highly advisable. The Operating Agreement is the primary document that establishes the rights, powers, duties, liabilities, and obligations of the members.

5. Comply With Tax and Regulatory Requirements

Additional tax and regulatory requirements may apply to your LLC. These may include:

EIN: If your LLC has more than one member, it must obtain its own IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN), even if it has no employees. If you form a one-member LLC, you must obtain an EIN for it only if it will have employees or you elect to have it taxed as a corporation. You may obtain an EIN by completing an online EIN application on the IRS website (www.irs.gov). There is no filing fee.

Business Licenses: Your LLC may need to obtain local and state business licenses. For local licenses, check with the clerk for the city where the LLC's primary place of business is located (or county if it is in an unincorporated area). For state license information, consult the checklist section in the Start a Business page at business.Ohio.gov. For more information, see Nolo's article How to Get a Small Business License in Ohio.

Department of Taxation: In some cases, for example if you have employees or will be selling goods and collecting sales tax, you’ll need to register with the Ohio Department of Taxation (DOT). For most tax purposes, you can register online through the Ohio Business Gateway (OBG) or by mail using the correct form (check the OBG site for details). Ohio also has a Commercial Activity Tax that applies to most Ohio business entities including SMLLCs. For more information on Ohio LLC tax registration, see Nolo's article Ohio LLC Annual Filing Requirements.

All of the paperwork and procedural steps to start a limited liability company in Ohio can be done online using Nolo's Ohio Online LLC Formation application.

6. Foreign LLCs Doing Business in Ohio

To do business in Ohio, all LLCs organized outside of the state must register with the Ohio Secretary of State. To register, file a Registration of a Foreign Limited Liability Company (Form 533B). The application may be filed online or by postal mail.

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