To start an LLC in Ohio, you must file Articles of Organization with the Ohio Secretary of State. You can file the document online, by mail or in person. The Articles of Organization cost $99 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Ohio LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business, you must complete several additional steps. Whether you want to try filing yourself or prefer to use our expert services, Northwest can help you start your Ohio LLC with confidence.
Everything You Need to Know About Ohio LLCs:
Ohio LLC Formation Options
Do it Yourself
Sign up for a free account and use our online tools to start your Ohio LLC today. Includes Ohio LLC formation and maintenance walkthrough and company document creation. All for free—just pay state fees.
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How to Start an LLC in Ohio
To start an LLC in Ohio, you’ll need to do three things: appoint a registered agent, choose a name for your business, and file Articles of Organization with the Ohio Secretary of State. You can file the document online, by mail or in person. The articles cost $99 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Ohio LLC.
According to Ohio Revised Code § 1705.06 (2019), every Ohio LLC must appoint and maintain a registered agent (also called an agent for service of process). You don’t need to hire a registered agent, but if you do, make sure your registered agent will list their address on your articles wherever possible to ensure maximum privacy.
If you’re starting a new business, you probably already know what you want to name your LLC. But you’ll need to know if your preferred name is available. To find out, visit the Secretary of State Business Name Search and search until you find the perfect name for your LLC.
Once you know who your registered agent will be and what your LLC name is, you’re ready to file your Ohio Articles of Organization. Follow along with our filing instructions below:
Filing the Ohio LLC Articles of Organization
Learn more about each Articles of Organization requirement below. Note that the information you provide becomes part of the public record—permanently.
Or skip the form entirely and hire us to form your Ohio LLC. We provide a free business address to list whenever possible throughout the filing to better keep your personal address private. And for the cheapest way to start a business? Pay just $35 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
1. LLC Type
On the form, you’ll need ot select “for-profit” or “non-profit” LLC. Nearly all LLCs are for-profit. While Ohio is one of the few states that supports nonprofit LLCs, note that if you’re seeking federal tax-exempt status, nonprofit LLCs have many more hoops to jump through compared to a nonprofit corporation.
2. Company Name
You have to include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC.” You can’t include words that would make people think you’re a different business entity like “corporation.”
3. Effective Date
If you want to push off your start date (for example, if the next tax period is on the horizon), you can list a future effective date up to 90 days in the future. Want your Ohio LLC to start right away? Skip this section.
To put a self-destruct timer on your LLC, enter an end date in this section. If you don’t put anything, your Ohio LLC will continue indefinitely. Tip: Most LLCs skip this section.
This is yet one more optional section. Your purpose is why your business is being created (in other words, what business activities your LLC plans to engage in). A general business purpose stating that the LLC is organized for any lawful purpose in the State of Ohio is sufficient.
6. Statutory Agent and Address
Your Ohio registered agent (aka statutory agent) must be available during business hours to accept legal notices for your LLC. You can list yourself, someone else, or a service like Northwest. The agent will need to sign the form under “Acceptance of Appointment.” You’ll also need to list an address. Rather not put a personal home or office address on a public form? When you hire Northwest, our info goes here, and you can better keep yours private.
7. Authorized Representative
Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Your authorized representative is just the person you authorized to form and file your Articles of Organization. It could be a member, manager, or someone outside of the LLC. When you hire us, we’ll be your authorized representative.
Why Have a Registered Agent Form Your Ohio LLC?
Professionals in Ohio hire registered agent services like Northwest Registered Agent to start an LLC—but why?
Standard filing companies don’t have employees or offices in every state. But as a national registered agent, it’s a requirement for us, which is a benefit for our clients. Our office is in North Canton. We’re on a first name basis with the people who work for the Secretary of State. We know all the fastest filing methods, which translates to fast, professional service—without extra fees.
As your registered agent, we list our North Canton registered office address on your LLC’s formation documents. Why? If you’re starting a business from your apartment in Cleveland, do you really want your apartment address as your business address? (Hint: the answer is no.) We’ll list our address, so you don’t have to list yours. Plus, we never sell your data. We don’t list your personal information on filings if we don’t have to. It’s all standard and part of our commitment to Privacy by Default®.
Free Mail Forwarding, Business Address and More
At Northwest, we do everything a registered agent should do and more. You can list our address as your business address on your state filings. We include limited digital mail forwarding with registered agent service (up to 5 pieces of regular mail per year; $15 a doc after that).
Plan on accepting credit cards? We also offer a Free Credit Card Processing Consultation. Our specialists work with processors to negotiate low rates and better contracts for our clients.
And now, try our in-house Northwest Phone Service for 60 days, free of charge with our formation service. Get a virtual phone number with your choice of area code, make and receive calls from any device, and more—for just $9 a month.
We know the in’s and out’s of each state—and we use this knowledge to help you when you need it most. Our team of Corporate Guides® has over 200 local business experts. You can call or email us for answers to all your questions about your LLC in Ohio. Our Corporate Guides are dedicated solely to helping you with your business—not selling you services or meeting quotas.
What Do I Do After My Ohio LLC Is Formed?
After your Ohio Articles of Organization are approved, you still have a few more important steps to take, including getting an EIN, drafting an operating agreement, opening a bank account, funding the LLC and learning about state reporting and tax requirements.
Get an EIN
An EIN (“Employer Identification Number”) is a federal tax ID assigned to your business by the IRS. The IRS uses your EIN to easily identify your business on tax filings.
Does an Ohio LLC need an EIN?
Yes—Your Ohio LLC must get an EIN from the IRS if you plan to hire employees or if you file certain federal excise taxes. You’ll need an EIN for a few other situations as well—opening a business bank account, establishing credit with vendors, and even registering with the Ohio Department of Taxation for taxes like the CAT. You could use your personal social security number instead, but why put your personal information at risk?
How do I get an EIN for my LLC?
You can apply for an EIN directly from the IRS at no cost. Most businesses are able to apply online, but if you don’t have a social security number, you’ll need to apply with a paper form. Want one less thing to do? Add on EIN service when you hire us, and we’ll get your EIN for you. Or choose our VIP service—an EIN is included.
Write an LLC Operating Agreement
Operating agreements put into writing how your business actually operates—how much each member invested, how profits and losses will be allocated, how voting works, and what happens if there’s a dispute or if the whole business (knock on wood) falls apart.
Do I need an operating agreement for an Ohio LLC?
Ohio doesn’t legally require an operating agreement. State statute Ohio Rev Code § 1705.081 (2019) describes at length the effects, powers, and limitations of an operating agreement—but the law doesn’t declare that you must write one.
That said, an operating agreement isn’t just annoying paperwork. It’s one of your LLC’s most important internal documents, and creating one can help your LLC with everything from opening a bank account to handling major events from mergers to dissolution.
What should be in an operating agreement?
An operating agreement should explain how the business will handle “big picture” situations—everything from allocating profits and losses to dissolving the business. Below is a list of common topics that operating agreements should cover.
Profits, losses, and distributions
Voting rights, decision-making powers, and management
Transfer of membership interest
Dissolving the business
Your operating agreement can cover pretty much anything as long as it isn’t contrary to Ohio law. Topics not allowed to be changed in the operating agreement are listed in the Ohio Rev Code § 1705.081 (2019), which forbids actions such as unreasonably restricting access to records and eliminating obligations of good faith.
How do I write an operating agreement?
To write an operating agreement, you need to address how your business will handle money, members, votes, management, and more. Not sure how to get started? At Northwest, we’re here to help your LLC get off on the right foot. When you hire us, we provide your business with a free LLC operating agreement, specific to your management style. We’ve spent years developing these agreements and other free LLC forms—which have been used by over a million LLCs.
Open an LLC Bank Account
Your LLC needs its own bank account. Why? An LLC gets its limited liability from being a distinct entity, separate from its members. If you mix personal and business finances, you could lose your liability protections.
How do I open a bank account for my Ohio LLC?
To open a bank account for your Ohio LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
A copy of the Ohio LLC Articles of Organization
The LLC operating agreement
The LLC’s EIN
If there are multiple members in the LLC, you may also want to bring an LLC resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the members to open the account in the name of the LLC. Northwest can help with this as well—LLC bank resolutions are one of the many free legal forms we provide to ensure you can get your LLC started fast.
Fund the LLC
Time to put some money in that new LLC bank account. What money? For starters, your initial contributions to your LLC’s capital. LLC members are owners, and each owner needs to pay for their membership interest to fund the LLC.
What is membership interest?
Membership interest is your percentage of ownership of the LLC. Membership interest is normally proportionate to your investment. So how does this work?
Imagine your LLC has 5 members. 4 members each invest $1,000 in the business. One member invests $6,000. The total contribution of all members is $10,000. The 4 members each own 10% of the business. The moneybags member who shelled out $6,000 owns 60% of the business.
Typically, this also means that the 4 members would each get 10% of any profits, and moneybags would get 60%. Exactly how profits and losses are allocated, however, can be adjusted in the operating agreement as long as changes are in line with IRS requirements and Ohio laws.
File Ohio Reports & Taxes
Ohio LLCs are not required to file a state report each year, but Ohio LLCs are subject to state tax filing requirements.
What should I know about Ohio LLC taxes?
The Ohio has a progressive personal net income tax rate ranging from 0%- 4.797%. The state also has a 5.75% sales tax—although counties can stack on local sales taxes as well (and in some situations there is provision for a special tax). The maximum total sales tax tops out at 8% (which you can find in Berea County), but the average total sales tax is 7.068%.
Ohio also has a gross receipts tax known as the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT). All businesses with Ohio taxable gross receipts between $150,000-$1,000,000 register and pay a $150 minimum tax, annually. Businesses with gross receipts north of $1,000,000 shell out $800 or more and file quarterly.
Do LLCs have to register with the Ohio Department Of Taxation?
If you owe anything for the CAT, you must register with the Ohio Department of Taxation. You can register online with Ohio Business Gateway or by filing the CAT 1 registration from, available at the Department of taxation website. Note that the Department strongly recommends using Gateway and that the processing of paper forms can take six weeks.
Ohio LLC FAQs
How can I submit the Ohio LLC Articles of Organization?
You can file Ohio articles online through Ohio’s Business Services Portal or by mail. Mailed filings must be submitted to the following address:
Ohio Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH, 43216
In person filings can be submitted at:
22 N 4th St
Columbus, OH 43215
How much does it cost to start an Ohio LLC?
The filing fee for your Ohio LLC Articles of Organization is $99.
Hire Northwest for a one-time fee of $324 ($424 expedited), including state filing fees, a year of registered agent service, limited mail forwarding and loads of useful forms and tools to help get your Ohio LLC up and running. Or, pay just $35 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
How long does it take to start an Ohio LLC?
Online filing averages 3-7 days to process. Mailing paper forms can take up to a month to process.
2-day expediting is available for online and mailed filings for an extra $100. Additional expediting options are available in person ($300 for 4-hour expediting or $200 for 1-day expediting).
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your Ohio LLC formed within 7 business days.
Does an Ohio LLC need a business license?
Ohio doesn’t have a general, statewide business license, but some occupations require professional licenses, and some activities (like alcohol sales) require permits. Cities and counties have their own local licensing requirements as well.
Need an EIN or a certified copy of your formation docs for your license applications? Northwest can help. You can easily add on these items to your LLC formation order.
Can an Ohio LLC help me live more privately?
Yes, an Ohio LLC can still help you reduce your public footprint. Ohio LLCs don’t file annual reports, and minimal information is required on public filings like the Articles of Organization. You can maintain a significant degree of address privacy by listing our address on public docs instead of your own. Check out our page on living privately with an LLC to learn more.
What is a foreign Ohio LLC?
A foreign Ohio LLC is any LLC formed outside of Ohio but registered to do business in the state. For example, if you formed an LLC in Indiana but wanted to conduct business in Ohio as well, you would register as a foreign LLC in Ohio by filing a Registration of a Foreign Limited Liability Company with the Ohio Secretary of State. Northwest can register your foreign Ohio LLC for you today!
How can I get an Ohio phone number for my LLC?
It’s a conundrum: you need a local number to display on your website and give to customers, but you don’t want to make your personal number quite so…public. We get it. And we’ve got you covered with Northwest Phone Service. We can provide you with a virtual phone number in any state—plus unlimited call forwarding and tons of easy-to-use features. You can try Phone Service free for 60 days when you hire us to form your LLC, and maintaining service is just $9 monthly after that. No contract required.
How to Order LLC Formation Service
Our Ohio LLC formation service is designed to be fast and easy—signing up takes just a couple minutes. Here’s how it works:
With Northwest, we give you flexibility on how to pay. You can pay all the fees up front (this includes one full year of registered agent service). Or, pay just $35 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option. With our VIP option, we also include an EIN. Just choose one of the buttons below, answer a few easy questions about your business and submit your payment.
We’ll prepare your Ohio Articles of Organization and send them to the Secretary of State for approval. In the meantime, you’ll have immediate access to your online account, where you can find useful state forms, pre-populated with your business information.
Once the Ohio Secretary of State has approved your filing, we notify you that your Ohio LLC has been legally formed. You can now take any necessary next steps, like getting an EIN and opening a bank account.