Start an LLC in Ohio

Use our free business tools below to complete your Ohio LLC Articles of Organization. This is the document you file directly with the Ohio Secretary of State to form your LLC.

If you want more, hire us to form your LLC in Ohio. We’ll get your business stood up in minutes with a free domain, website, email, business phone, and more.

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with the help of a Registered Agent

How to Start an LLC in Ohio

Starting an LLC in Ohio means your business can take advantage of liability protection, a variety of tax options, and a flexible management structure. In Ohio, it only costs $99 to start an LLC, and there are no annual report requirements or fees.

To get your LLC started, you’ll need to fill out paperwork known as Ohio Articles of Organization, then submit those Articles to the Ohio Secretary of State. You can tackle the paperwork yourself or hire someone like Northwest to do it on your behalf. Once the paperwork is submitted, you’ll need to take other steps to protect your privacy and satisfy the federal government. Here’s how to get it done.

 

1. Name Your LLC

Your LLC won’t get very far without a name. Ohio has specific rules laid out in Ohio Rev. Code § 1706.07, but there are a couple of key things to remember. Your LLC’s name must:

  • contain the words “limited liability company” or an abbreviation like “LLC” or “L.L.C.”
  • Be unique among registered business names in Ohio. If your name is too similar to a name that already exists, your application won’t be accepted. You can run a business name search via the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to check on your preferred name.

Tip: If your business name is available in Ohio, that’s great. But it may still be trademarked federally, which means you might be at legal risk if you go ahead and use it. A trademark clearance search can ease your mind.

2. Register Your Domain Name

You’ve brainstormed a perfect business name, and now you know it’s available in Ohio. Next up, you should check to see if it’s available as a domain name. Your domain name is simply the website address (ours is northwestregisteredagent.com, for example).

Reserving a domain name doesn’t mean you need to start building a website tomorrow. Yet it’s still a smart move to get that domain name registered because:

  • Changing your LLC’s name is hard. If you can’t find a domain name that matches or goes with your LLC’s name, you’ll be in a tricky situation.
  • Registering a domain name allows you to get a business email address.

It can look unprofessional to give out a personal email address for your business. It’s easier to organize your business communications properly from the get-go by using a business email address (like [email protected]).

Tip: Hiring us to start your LLC gets you a domain name free for a whole year.

3. File Ohio LLC Articles of Organization

Articles of Organization are the form you submit to the Ohio Secretary of State. Once you submit this paperwork, the Secretary of State’s office will check it for any issues. If there are none, the state will approve the Articles and your LLC will officially be formed.

Tip: All of the information on this form becomes part of the public record. You can hire a professional registered agent and keep your personal information private.

You’ll need to list the following info on your Ohio Articles of Organization:

 

Business Name

Don’t forget to include the indicator “limited liability company” or an approved abbreviation like “LLC.” Make sure your name hasn’t already been claimed.

Effective Date

This is optional, so feel free to bypass this section if you want to start your LLC immediately. Otherwise, you can note a date and time up to 90 days in the future.

Purpose

You can leave this blank or add in a generic business purpose such as “to engage in lawful business activity in Ohio.”

Effective Date

This is another optional section. If you want your LLC to dissolve automatically after a certain date, list that date. Otherwise, don’t write anything here.

Statutory Agent Information

Statutory agent is another name for a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or company authorized to receive official mail on your LLC’s behalf. Why is a registered agent important? Because if you get served with a lawsuit, the registered agent is the person or company who will be receiving it at the address they list here. Once they receive it, it’s the statutory agent’s job to get that lawsuit paperwork to you ASAP. You’re legally required to appoint a registered agent in Ohio, so there’s no avoiding this section.

Legally, your Ohio registered agent must:

  • Have a physical address in Ohio.
  • Be present at that address during regular business hours.
  • Agree to accept service of process for your LLC, and notify you of that service of process in a timely manner.

Tip: If you meet the above requirements, you can act as your own registered agent in Ohio. If you’re not present all day at one address or would rather live privately with your LLC, you can hire a professional like Northwest to act as your Ohio registered agent.

Your statutory agent will also need to sign this section of the Articles to signal they’ve accepted their appointment.

Executor Signature

A member, manager, or someone else authorized to act on your LLC’s behalf should sign here. This doesn’t have to be someone involved in your LLC.

How do you “file” Ohio Articles of Organization?

When we say “file,” we just mean submitting your LLC paperwork to the Ohio Secretary of State. You’ll also have to pay a $99 filing fee, or more if you want expedited service. You can choose to submit your articles by mail, online, or in person.

File online here:
Ohio Business Filings

Send by mail here:
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

For two-day processing time, send here (for an extra $100):
P.O. Box 1390
Columbus, OH 43216

For in-person service, go here (call 877-767-3453 to schedule an appointment first):
Client Service Center
180 Civic Center Dr.
Columbus, Ohio 43215

4. Adopt an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is a guidebook for how your LLC will operate. It covers how the LLC will do things like vote, resolve disputes, and allocate profits. If someone wants to transfer their interests to another member, that should be covered in the handbook.

An operating agreement is an internal document, so you don’t have to file it with the state. In fact, Ohio doesn’t even legally require one, but if you don’t create one now, you’re setting yourself up for trouble down the line. Without an operating agreement, you’ll be governed by Ohio’s default LLC statutes, which may not be the best fit for your LLC.

Tip: Writing an operating agreement doesn’t come naturally. So we had our attorneys draft an operating agreement exclusively for Ohio, and you can customize it for free.

5. Get an EIN

Your LLC probably needs an EIN (sometimes known as an FEIN). An EIN stands for Employer Identification Number, and it’s a nine-digit number assigned by the IRS to your business. You need an EIN to pay taxes, but also to do things like open bank accounts and apply for loans. Listing your EIN on forms is also safer than listing your personal Social Security number.

You can apply for an EIN through the IRS website. If you don’t want to deal with the IRS any more than necessary, you can hire us to obtain an EIN for you.

6. Get a Business Bank Account

Personal finances and business finances shouldn’t mix. If they do, then a court could find that your LLC and you are the same, legally speaking. To avoid that scenario, you must open a business bank account. When you go to open your account, you’ll want to bring your operating agreement, EIN, and an LLC Resolution to Start a Bank Account.

7. File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report

Finally, you’ll have to file a Beneficial Ownership Information Report with a federal agency known as FinCEN. You’ll need to list information about your company’s beneficial owners, and, if your business was formed on or after January 1, 2024, company applicants as well. Feel free to file the report yourself online or hire us to do it for you.

*This is informational commentary, not advice. This information is intended strictly for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. This information is not intended to create, nor does your receipt, viewing, or use of it constitute, an attorney-client relationship. More information is available in our Terms of Service.

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