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The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular business entity choice structure for many businesses starting in Ohio The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes. With a little research, you can learn how to form an LLC in Ohio without an attorney.

Unlike a sole proprietorship or partnership where the small business owner can be personally liable for lawsuits against the business, the LLC is a separate legal structure, protecting for the business owner’s personal assets.

Besides the liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides several other benefits over the sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation because of the multiple tax options, ease of administration and management flexibility.

Related: How Does an LLC Protect You?

Forming an LLC in Ohio is fairly straightforward, but it’s nice to have some support in case you have questions or get stuck.  IncFile and Inc Authority provide LLC formation guidance for only the cost of the state fees!

Related: Should you use a Formation Service, Hire an Attorney or Do it Yourself?

To form a Limited Liability Company in Ohio, file the Articles of Organization with the Ohio Secretary of State.  The LLC filing fee is $99.

Approval for the LLC is typically around one week.  The application can be expedited for a fee.  The cost to register in 2 business days is an additional $100, 1 business day is an additional $200 and 4 business hours is an additional $300.

If you have questions, contact the Ohio Secretary of State at 877-767-6446 or busserv@OhioSecretaryofState.gov.

 

HOW TO FILE THE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION AND FORM An OHIO LLC

The steps for filing online or by mail are largely the same.  The screenshots show how to file online.

How to Form an LLC in Ohio

  • Create a user profile.
  • Then select “File a New Business or Register a Name”

Register a New Business in Ohio

  • Click on the drop-down menu “Forms available to file online” and select “Limited Liability Company (Ohio) $99”  There is an option for “Limited Liability Company (Non Ohio) and this is for a foreign LLC which means it is an LLC from out-of-state wanting to do business in Ohio.   Click “Continue” to proceed.

Register an LLC in Ohio

 

Search Available Names

Enter the name you want for the LLC.  The name of the LLC also has to differ from other entity names registered with the Secretary of State.  If you aren’t ready to file yet, you can check on available Ohio LLC names to be sure the one you want is available.  If the name you want to use is considered similar to another, you can file for a Consent for Use of a Similar Name form and add the form as an attachment in a later page.

The name of the LLC must include one of the following designators at the end of the business name:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited
  • L.L.C.
  • LLC
  • Ltd
  • Ltd.

A comma may be used after the business name and before the designator.  “Cowboy Cleaners LLC” and “Cowboy Cleaners, LLC” are both acceptable.

Even if the name you select is available, it isn’t final until the Secretary of State manually searches to see if anyone else is using it. 

If the initial search comes back as available, click on “Continue” to proceed.  Before settling on a name, you may want to see if a domain name is also available in order to match your business name and website address.

Register Ohio LLC Name

 

Company Information

Name of Company – Assuming it was available, enter the name from the previous screen.

Effective Date – If you want the LLC to start as soon as it is filed, choose the next available date.  If you want to LLC to start later, enter a date less than 90 days in the future to start.  The main reason for delaying the LLC start date is when the filing is being done close to the end of a calendar year and the business isn’t going to have any activity until the start of the year.  By delaying until the following year they will reduce the number of end-of-year filings.

Period of Existence – In this section, you can indicate how long it will remain in existence.  Most LLCs will choose a “Perpetual” duration as they plan to operate indefinitely, however, some businesses (usually investment related) will have a specific closure date.

Purpose – Select whether your LLC is a non-profit or for-profit.

Purpose Clause – This is an optional section, but would be used to provide some basic information about what the business does.  If left blank, the default is “An LLC may be in existence for any and all lawful activity”

Related: How to Answer the Business Purpose Statement.

 

Ohio LLC Company Information

Statutory Agent

To have an LLC in Ohio, a Statutory Agent (sometimes referred to as a Registered Agent) must be identified.  The Statutory Agent can either be a resident of Ohio or a Statutory Agent service.  The agent must have a physical address in the state (PO Boxes are not allowed) and act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc on behalf of the LLC.

Even though the business owner can be the Statutory Agent, their name and address become public record and with that comes a loss of privacy. This is more important for some entrepreneurs, especially when they are doing business from home.

The Statutory Agent must also provide consent they consent to be the agent for this LLC.

Ohio LLC Statutory Registered Agent

Add Attachments

This is an optional section and not used by most LLCs.  Here you would include additional rules for the operation of the LLC.

Some reasons to add an attachment would be in the following situations:

  • The business name you have selected is already in use in Ohio.
  • The business information would not fit in the text fields provided on this system and you need additional space to provide additional information.
  • There are 4 or more representatives signing the Articles of Organization.

Authorize

Have a member(s), manager(s) or other organizers enter their name.  Anyone who signs certifies they have the authority to sign on behalf of the LLC.

Review

Review that all the information is correct.

Pay and File

Pay and file the Articles of Organization.

In approximately one week if filing normally, the LLC will be approved.

Tasks After Forming Your LLC

Once the LLC has been formed, there are a few additional steps to take care of. Below is a list of the most common tasks.

Prepare an Operating Agreement

The operating agreement is a document that governs the framework of an LLC.  This document covers items like ownership rights, member responsibilities, how profits and losses are distributed and more.

Most states do not require an LLC to have an operating agreement but it is still worth considering. Without an operating agreement:

  • The LLC could be subject to generic state rules that may be detrimental in the event of a lawsuit
  • Member’s personal liability protection may be diminished
  • Members may not have a full understanding of their roles and responsibilities which could lead to costly disputes in the future

Related: Ohio operating agreement template

Obtain an EIN

The EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique 9-digit number for a business. Similar to a social security number for an individual, the EIN identifies business entities for tax purposes.  

The EIN will be needed in order to open a bank account, register for business licenses and permits, file tax returns, pay payroll taxes and more. 

Related: How to Apply for an EIN

Open an LLC Bank Account

Opening a bank account for your LLC is important for liability protection as the account separates the business’s funds from the member’s personal funds.

Several documents will be needed to open a business bank account such as:

  • A banking resolution is a document that authorizes the members to open a business bank account on behalf of the LLC.
  • Copies of the original formation paperwork from the state showing the creation of the LLC.
  • Driver’s licenses of the members.
  • Depending on the age of the LLC, a Ohio Certificate of Good Standing may be needed to prove the LLC is active and in good standing with the state.

Related: How to Open a Business Bank Account for your LLC 

Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Depending on what your business does and where it is located, there will likely be a variety of business licenses and permits to register for before starting. Some common registrations include:

  • Business License – Some cities require businesses to obtain licensing before they can start. In some cases, even home-based businesses must have licensing in order to legally operate. 
  • Professional License – Certain services such as barbershops, accountants, salons and others must be licensed.
  • Vendor’s License – In order to sell products and certain services, registration with the Ohio Department of Taxation will be necessary.

Related: What Business Licenses are Needed in Ohio?