What Business Licenses and Permits are Needed in Ohio?

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Starting a business in Ohio will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state and local agencies.  Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in Ohio.

Business License – There is no general state of Ohio business license, however many cities require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does.  Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements. 

Columbus – The City of Columbus requires certain businesses such as restaurants, daycares, salons and barbershops to obtain a business license to operate in Columbus. . 

Cincinnati Some businesses will need to register with the Cincinnati Department of Finance & Budget in order to do business within city limits.  A few of these businesses include antique dealers, food establishments, skating rinks and more. 

Toledo – Businesses such as dance halls, junk yards, mobile food vendors, tow trucks and more will need to obtain licensing with the city

Akron – An Akron Business License is required for certain types of businesses operating in the corporate limits of the city such as alarm installers, firearm dealers, ice cream trucks and more. 

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN or Employer Identification Number.  The EIN is the business equivalent for a Social Security Number for an individual.  Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number. 

There is no cost for an EIN and it only takes a few minutes to get.

Learn how to apply for an EIN.

Ohio Vendor’s License – Ohio law requires any person or business making retail sales of tangible personal property or taxable services to register for an Ohio Vendor’s License with the Department of Taxation. 

Commercial Activity Tax – Businesses with total revenues of over $150,000 in a calendar year must register for the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) with the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Sales Tax Exemption Certificate – Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain an Ohio Sales Tax Exemption Certificate (often referred to as a Resale Certificate) in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.

Professional License – A variety of professionals in the state are regulated and need to register such as appraisers, bait dealers, contractors, exterminators, salons and many more.  Additional information, fees and licensing requirements for professions are available from the state of Ohio.

Trade Name Registration – While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for a Trade Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the Secretary of State.


These are a few of the most common business licenses, but there are way too many licenses and permits in Ohio for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, check with the City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.  Additionally, there are companies like IncFile or CorpNet that can do the research to ensure you have the proper federal, state and local licenses.