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How to File a DBA in Ohio [2022]

Overview

How to File a DBA in Ohio

In Ohio, a business operating under a fictitious name will need to register a DBA.  Learn more about what a DBA is, who needs one, and how to register.

Related: How to start a business in Ohio

What is a DBA?

A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As,” is commonly referred to as a Trade Name and Fictitious Name in Ohio or an Assumed Name of Fictitious Business Name in other states.  What is somewhat confusing in Ohio is that a business can register either a Trade Name or Fictitious Name.

A Trade Name is a name that must be distinguishable from the other names that are registered with the Secretary of State.  If the name you want is available, this name can be registered, and no other business can register it.

Before a Trade Name can be registered, it will have to be used prior to the date of filing.  Ways to use the name include opening a bank account with the trade name, using the trade name on products, any advertisements using the Trade Name, or using the name on business cards or letterhead.

A Fictitious Name is a name registered with the Secretary of State but does not have to be unique. A Fictitious Name provides much less protection because other registered names are not required to be distinguishable.  For example, if “Bob’s Landscaping” is registered as a Fictitious Name, an LLC would be able to register “Bob’s Landscaping, LLC” because the names are not required to be distinguishable.

What is a DBA name good for?

A DBA is required for Ohio businesses that want to operate under a name that is different from the legal name of the owners or entity. The DBA registration provides information on the people operating a business, so if there is an issue, the owners of a business can be tracked down.  

In addition to the legal requirement, a DBA offers other benefits such as proving the existence of a business, opening a business bank account, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.

Who needs to register for an Ohio DBA?

The requirements and need to register will vary depending on the type of business structure.

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA.

The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the business owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering.  For example, if John Smith starts a business repairing computers but doesn’t use a business name, he doesn’t have to register.  If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair, he will need to register.

Corporations and Limited Liability Companies won’t typically register a Trade or Fictitious Name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process.  Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to operate under their corporate/LLC umbrella to keep the liability protection without forming another entity.

How much does it cost to register a DBA in Ohio?

The cost to register the Trade Name or Fictitious Name in Ohio is $39.  Normal filing typically takes 3-7 days. 

If a faster turnaround is needed, expedited service is available.
– 2-day processing is an additional $100 filing fee
– 1-day processing is an additional $200 filing fee
– 4-hour processing is an additional $300 filing fee

The DBA registration will need to be renewed every five years.

What are the steps to file a DBA in Ohio?

Step 1: Verify Name Availability

Since the cost is the same to register the Trade and Fictitious Name, if the name you want to use is available, register the Trade Name for the most protection.

Learn how to do a business name search in Ohio.

Step 2: Fill out the Form

Form 534A: Name Registration is available to download from the Ohio Secretary of State. The information needed on the name registration form includes:
– Name of the individual or business (if registered as a corporation or LLC)
– Business address
– Phone number
– Email address
– Type of registration
– Name being registered
– Registrant’s Entity Number (number provided by the Secretary of State to corporations and LLCs)
– General nature of what the business does

Step 3: Submit the Form

File the form along with payment to the Secretary of State.  If filing by mail, send to:
Ohio Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

If you have questions about the process, you can contact the Ohio Secretary of State at 877-767-3453 or busserv@OhioSecretaryofstate.gov.

If you would prefer to have a someone else research DBA name availability and file the required forms, Swyft Filings, MyCompanyWorks, and LegalZoom offer a DBA registration service for $99, plus state fees.

How long does it take to get a DBA in Ohio?

It normally takes 3-7 business days for the Ohio Secretary of State to process DBA filings.

Are there any naming restrictions when filing an Ohio DBA?

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banks, trusts, insurance agencies, cooperatives, or legal professional associations unless the business is licensed to operate as such.

A Trade Name or Fictitious Name can’t use a business entity suffix that is different from the type of entity. For example, a sole proprietorship can’t use LLC or corporation in its name.

Additionally, the use of profanity or words or phrases that are generally considered a slur against an ethnic group, religion, gender, or heredity is prohibited as well.

Can someone steal my business name after registering an Ohio DBA name?

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Ohio, it does very little to stop someone else from operating a business under that name in other states.

If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark.

Learn more about trademarking a business name.

Does a DBA need an EIN?

An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique nine-digit number that some businesses will register for through the Internal Revenue Department (IRS). An EIN is required for partnerships, corporations, multi-member LLCs, or any business that has employees.

Sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs without employees can use the owner’s social security number to identify the business.
There is no cost to get an EIN when registering directly from the IRS.

Related: How to register for an EIN in Ohio

Does Ohio require a DBA filing?

Any Ohio sole proprietorship or partnership that wants to do business under a name that is different from the owner’s full name or an Ohio corporation or LLC that wants to operate under a name that is different from the legal name of the business is required to register the name

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