Whether you’re researching the availability of a business name or checking the status of a business entity the Ohio Secretary of State website has the information you are looking for.
The Secretary of State Business Entity Database provides information on sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations and LLCs registered in Ohio.
There is no fee to search the database.
What information can be looked up?
The database search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:
- Business Name
- Filing Ttype – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
- Original Filing Date – Date the entity was filed with the Secretary of State.
- Status – Active means the entity is in good standing and all reports and filing fees are up to date. Other results include “Cancelled” or “Dead” among others. The names of these inactive results may be available to register.
- Registered Agent’s information – An Ohio Statutory Agent is the singular point of contact for the entity should a legal or tax notice need to be sent to the business. This is often one of the owners and if their home address is used, that address becomes public information. Many people find this concerning and use a Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent or IncFile so their home address isn’t listed.
- Images of the Articles of Organization (LLC), Articles of Incorporation (Corp), Amendments and more are available to view as well.
How to do an Ohio Business Name Search
Visit the Ohio Secretary of State website.
Enter the name you would like to use in the “Business Name” field. In this example, we will look up “A1 Yard & Lawn” and click “Search”. It is recommended to keep the search for all results as inactive listings may not yet be able to re-register.
Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “A1 Yard & Lawn”. To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Ohio, the name must be distinguishable from the other names registered. If you were looking to form an LLC with this name you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.
To find more information about any of the registered business names, click on the “Show Details” button.
While the name “A1 Yard & Lawn” by itself may not be available, other variants are such as “A1 Yard & Lawn of Ohio” are. Searching for those business names brings a result that says “There were no records found”. While final approval is still with the Secretary of State, it is likely available to register.
These are the basics of searching for a business name in Ohio. Even when the name of the business you want looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will make a final determination at the time of filing to ensure the name you picked isn’t too similar to other registered names.
How do I form an LLC?
Before starting your business and forming an LLC, be sure to do the business entity search first to make sure the name is available to use. Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form a Ohio LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.
While not required in Ohio, an Operating Agreement, which contains the rules for how the LLC operates, may be a document worth considering especially for multi-member LLCs.
After forming a Limited Liability Company, be sure to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is a “social security number” for the business. There is no cost to get one through the IRS.
After forming the LLC, Ohio business licenses and permits may still be necessary.