How to File for an LCC in Ohio

Updated on January 23, 2024

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Ohio can be a great way to formally structure your small business. An LLC combines aspects of partnerships and corporations to provide personal liability protection while allowing pass-through taxation. There are a few key steps you’ll need to take to form an LLC in Ohio. First, you’ll need to name your Ohio LLC and register it with the Ohio Secretary of State by filing Articles of Organization. Next, you’ll establish an operating agreement and obtain any necessary business licenses or permits. Additionally, you must set up an EIN, establish LLC accounting procedures, and understand any annual filing requirements to maintain your LLC status.

Understanding LLCs

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a business structure that combines aspects of partnerships and corporations. LLCs provide liability protection for the owners, called members, so their personal assets are generally protected from business debts and lawsuits. At the same time, LLCs allow pass-through taxation like partnerships, avoiding double taxation on business profits.

Some key things to understand about LLCs:

  • LLCs limit personal liability for members while allowing business losses and profits to pass through to the owners’ personal tax returns
  • LLCs have more flexibility in management structure compared to corporations
  • LLCs require less paperwork and have fewer compliance requirements than corporations
  • Most states, including Ohio, require articles of organization to be filed to establish an LLC

Properly forming and maintaining an LLC establishes limited liability protection for the members under state law. It’s important to follow all initial filing and ongoing compliance steps.

Choosing a Name for Your LLC

When starting an LLC in Ohio, one of the first steps is choosing a business name. Here are some tips for picking an LLC name:

  • Make sure your desired name is available by checking Ohio’s business name database. If the name you want is taken, you’ll have to select a different one.
  • Include words that describe your business, like “Services” or “Consulting.” Descriptive names make your business easy to find online.
  • Consider including your location, like “Columbus” or “Cleveland,” so customers know where you operate.
  • Pick a name that is short, simple, and easy to remember. Avoid overly complex or confusing names.

Your LLC name needs to be unique and representative of your brand. Take the time to carefully select a quality name that will resonate with your target audience.

Selecting a Registered Agent

When starting an LLC in Ohio, you must designate a registered agent. This is a person or company that agrees to accept legal documents on behalf of your LLC if you are sued or served papers. Here are some tips for selecting your Ohio registered agent:

  • They must have an address in Ohio where they can receive official mail and legal documents year-round.
  • Consider using a professional registered agent service. They will ensure documents are forwarded to you promptly for a fee that starts around $100 per year.
  • You can save money by appointing a friend or family member as long as they meet the requirements. However, a professional service may be more reliable.
  • Ask about mail forwarding, email notifications, online access to documents, and customer service when evaluating registered agent services.
  • You must inform the Ohio Secretary of State anytime you change registered agents.

Carefully choosing a responsible registered agent who understands their duties is crucial for properly starting and maintaining your Ohio LLC.

Filing Your LLC Paperwork

Once you have chosen a business name and registered it with the Ohio Secretary of State, the next step is to file your Articles of Organization to make your LLC official. This paperwork includes some key details about your business:

  • Your LLC’s name and address
  • The nature of your business and its activities
  • The duration of your LLC (perpetual existence or specific dissolution date)
  • Name and address of your registered agent

You will need to file the Articles of Organization and pay a filing fee to the Ohio Secretary of State to legally form your LLC. The current fee is $99 if you file online or $125 if you file by paper.

After filing, you will receive a Certificate of Organization. This certificate formally establishes your business. Make sure to keep it in a safe, accessible place along with your other important business documents.

Going forward, you must maintain your LLC by:

  • Filing a Biennial Report every two years ($50 fee)
  • Paying taxes properly and on time
  • Keeping records of meetings, votes, and financial statements

Properly filing your paperwork and maintaining your LLC status keeps your business in good legal standing in Ohio.

Drafting an LLC Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is a crucial document for any Ohio LLC that lays out the financial and functional decisions about how your business will run. While an operating agreement isn’t legally required in Ohio, having one can help settle any disputes between members down the road. Here’s what you need to know about drafting one:

  • Decide on management structure and voting rights. Will you have member-managed or manager-managed LLC? How many votes does each member get?
  • Establish ownership percentages and distribution of profits/losses. The operating agreement should lay out each member’s percentage of ownership and the share of profits and losses they are entitled to.
  • Outline member responsibilities and duties. Specify what each member is expected to contribute to the LLC.
  • Plan ahead for change of ownership. Include clauses defining what happens when a member wants to leave the LLC or sell their interest.
  • Set up rules for holding meetings and keeping records. Your operating agreement should detail how often meetings will be held, which records must be kept, and other logistics.
  • Add specific financial and operational decisions. Will you take on debt or make large purchases without consent from members? Address issues specific to your business.

While drafting your own operating agreement takes some work, having this governing document tailored to your LLC can save you a lot of hassle down the line. Using an LLC operating agreement template can help you get started and cover all the key elements you need to address.

Obtaining Tax Identification Numbers

One of the key steps in forming an LLC in Ohio is obtaining tax identification numbers from the appropriate government agencies. This includes getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and registering with the Ohio Taxation Division for any necessary state tax IDs or accounts.

Applying for an EIN is free and can be done online via the IRS website. Whether you need additional state-level tax IDs will depend on your business activities, such as if you plan to collect sales tax or have employees. The Ohio Taxation Division provides guidance on registering your LLC with the state of Ohio for tax purposes.

  • EIN: Identifies your business for federal tax purposes
  • State Tax ID: Needed for many state-level tax obligations
  • Take care of tax registration early when starting your Ohio LLC

Pros and Cons of Starting an LLC in California

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) can be a great way to formally structure your small business in Ohio. However, it’s important to understand the key advantages and potential drawbacks before making your decision.

Here are some of the main pros and cons to consider:

  • Pros:
    • Limited personal liability – An LLC helps separate your personal assets from the business
    • Tax flexibility – LLCs can choose corporate taxation or pass-through taxation
    • Credibility – Forming an official LLC can make you appear more legitimate
  • Cons:
    • Increased legal/accounting costs – You may need help managing an LLC’s legal requirements
    • Self-employment taxes – LLC members may have to pay these taxes personally

Overall, forming an LLC can provide key protections for Ohio small business owners. But the additional administrative tasks should also be considered before deciding if it’s the right move for your company.

Cost Considerations

When starting an LLC in Ohio, there are several costs to consider. The filing fee to register an LLC with the Ohio Secretary of State is $99 if filed online, or $114 if submitted by mail or in person. You may also need to pay an operating agreement creation fee if you use an attorney or online legal service to draft your LLC operating agreement, which establishes details like ownership stakes, voting rights, and profit distribution.

Additionally, you may incur costs for:

  • Business licenses and permits
  • A registered agent service ($100-200 per year)
  • Accounting software or services
  • Business insurance (general liability, workers’ comp)

Carefully research all expected ongoing and first-year costs so you can accurately project expenses and secure adequate financing for your Ohio LLC.

Economical LLC Formation Options

When starting an LLC in Ohio, it’s important to keep costs low, especially when just launching your business. Here are some of the most economical options for LLC formation:

  • Use an online service like LegalZoom or Incfile to form your LLC. These services charge $100-200 to prepare your articles of organization and submit the paperwork.
  • File the articles yourself through the Ohio Secretary of State website. The filing fee is $99, which you pay directly to the state.
  • Consider getting a template for $30-50 from sites like Rocket Lawyer and completing the paperwork yourself.

While you can always consult a business lawyer, using these economical services and options allow you to form your Ohio LLC with very little start-up capital. Just make sure to thoroughly complete all documents and submit them properly to the state to ensure your LLC status is approved.

Pre-Formation Steps

Taking the proper pre-formation steps when starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Ohio is important to ensure your business is legally compliant from day one. Here are some key things to do before formally creating your Ohio LLC:

  • Choose a unique company name that complies with Ohio Secretary of State naming guidelines. Search the existing LLC names database to make sure your chosen name isn’t already taken.
  • Select a registered agent with an Ohio address who can receive official or legal correspondence on behalf of your LLC.
  • Draft your company’s operating agreement to establish ownership percentages, voting rights, member responsibilities, distribution of profits and losses, etc.
  • Obtain an EIN from the IRS (employer identification number) for tax and banking purposes.

Completing these key pre-filing steps allows for a smooth LLC formation process in Ohio. Once these ducks are in a row, you can officially register your LLC with the Ohio Secretary of State.

Comparing Business Entity Types

When starting a business in Ohio, you have several options for structuring your company. Some of the most common business structures include sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs). Here is a brief comparison of some key factors to consider when choosing an entity type:

  • Formation Requirements – Sole proprietorships have almost no formal requirements, while LLCs and corporations require filing articles of organization with the state.
  • Liability Protection – Sole proprietors and partners have unlimited personal liability. LLC members and corporation shareholders have limited liability for business debts and obligations.
  • Taxes – Sole proprietors pay personal income tax on business profits. Partnerships, LLCs, and corporations file business tax returns. LLCs and corporations allow profits and losses to pass through to owners’ personal tax returns.
  • Costs and Maintenance – LLCs and corporations cost more to establish and have more compliance requirements, like adopting operating agreements and holding/documenting meetings.

Many small business owners choose LLCs because they provide personal liability protection like a corporation while allowing pass-through taxation like a partnership. LLCs also involve less record-keeping than corporations. However, corporations may still make sense for businesses planning to go public or raise significant outside investment. Consult an SBA small business center to understand all of your entity type options.

After Filing Your LLC in Ohio

Once your Articles of Organization have been filed with the Ohio Secretary of State and approved, there are some next steps you need to take to properly set up your LLC. Here’s what to do after filing your LLC in Ohio:

  • Create an operating agreement – An operating agreement establishes rules and regulations for your LLC’s operations. While not required in Ohio, it’s highly recommended to have one.
  • Get an EIN – Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number will be used for tax purposes instead of your SSN.
  • Set up accounting – Establish accounting procedures for financial reporting, tax documentation, etc. You may want to work with an accountant.
  • Understand tax obligations – Be aware of your state and federal tax obligations for LLCs. Ohio LLCs need to pay franchise tax, commercial activity tax, and income tax.
  • Obtain licenses and permits – Research if your LLC needs any state or local licenses or permits to operate legally.
  • Open a business bank account – Set up a business bank account to keep your personal and business finances separate.

After checking off these steps, your Ohio LLC will be fully set up and ready for business! Be sure to stay on top of ongoing compliance and formalities to keep your LLC in good standing. Consider connecting with a local Small Business Development Center for guidance.

Business Licenses and Permits

When starting an LLC in Ohio, you may need to obtain certain business licenses and permits depending on your industry and location. Some common licenses and permits include:

  • Business license – Most cities and counties in Ohio require a general business license to legally operate. Fees typically range from $25 to $100 annually.
  • Sales tax permit – If selling taxable goods or services, you need a vendor’s license from the Ohio Department of Taxation to collect sales tax.
  • Food service license – Restaurants, food trucks, caterers, and any food-based business needs a food safety certification from the local health department.
  • Professional license – Occupations like medical, legal, financial services, cosmetology, and others require special licenses from Ohio boards and commissions.

Be sure to research the specific license and permit requirements for your LLC’s industry and location within Ohio. The Ohio Business Gateway helps guide you through required registrations.

Growth Considerations for Your LLC

When starting your Ohio LLC, it’s important to consider future growth plans and how that might impact your business structure. Here are some key things to think about:

  • Will you want to expand into other states at some point? If so, you may want to register as a foreign LLC when the time comes rather than forming a new LLC entity.
  • How will growth impact your tax treatment and filing requirements? Talk to an accountant or tax advisor to ensure you have the right structure in place.
  • If you plan to grow by taking on investors or partners down the road, consider whether an LLC taxed as an S corporation may be beneficial.

Thinking through these types of growth questions early when forming your Ohio LLC can save you hassle later. Build flexibility into your LLC operating agreement to account for future changes in ownership or location as your business scales.

Additional Resources

Forming an LLC in Ohio involves several steps. Luckily, there are useful online resources that can help guide you through the process. The table below contains additional information on starting an LLC in Ohio.

Ohio Secretary of State official Ohio Secretary of State website with information and forms for establishing an LLC.
NOLO Guide’s step-by-step guide for starting an LLC in Ohio with an overview of the process.

Furthermore, consulting with an attorney or accountant can provide guidance tailored to your specific business needs. With the right information and support, the LLC formation process can go smoothly.


Forming an LLC in Ohio provides numerous advantages such as personal asset protection and pass-through taxation. While the process involves several steps, it is worth the effort for the legal and financial benefits. When starting your Ohio LLC, be sure to choose a unique business name, register with the Ohio Secretary of State, create an operating agreement, obtain an EIN from the IRS, file for taxes, and comply with all ongoing legal requirements. Additionally, take time to develop an effective business plan and research funding options like small business loans or grants. With the proper preparation, your Ohio LLC can be set up for success.

For more information, check out the Ohio Business Gateway which provides useful tools and resources. The SBA website also outlines the steps for starting an LLC. With the right guidance, you can confidently establish your Ohio LLC.


What are the requirements to form an LLC in Ohio?

Some of the key requirements include: choosing an available business name; appointing a registered agent; filing the articles of organization; creating an operating agreement; obtaining an EIN; and registering with the Ohio Secretary of State.

How do I choose a name for my Ohio LLC?

You’ll need to pick an available business name that includes words like “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.” You can search Ohio’s business database to ensure the name you want is not already taken.

What information needs to be included in the articles of organization?

The articles of organization must include your LLC’s name; its duration (perpetual existence or specific dissolution date); the name and address of your registered agent; and the name(s) and address(es) of the LLC’s member(s) or manager(s).

Do I need to create an operating agreement for an Ohio LLC?

Yes, an operating agreement is highly recommended to outline financial and management details like ownership percentages, member responsibilities, voting procedures, rules for assigning interests, and more.

What are the steps for registering my Ohio LLC with the state?

You’ll need to file your articles of organization, pay a $99 filing fee, appoint a registered agent, and apply for any necessary licenses or permits. The Ohio Secretary of State’s office will then approve and register your LLC.

Do I need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for an LLC in Ohio?

Yes, you’ll need to get a free EIN from the IRS if you plan to open LLC business bank accounts, hire employees, or file taxes for your LLC. This is done after filing your articles of organization.

Frank Gogol

A seasoned SEO expert, Frank has a long history of working with and for startups. Starting in mid-2018, Frank served as the SEO Strategist for Stilt, a fintech startup that provided fair loans for immigrants in the US and other underserved markets. While with the company, he scaled site traffic from zero to more than 1.5 million unique visits per month, driving the bulk of the company’s lead generation until it was acquired by J.G. Wentworth in December 2022. As employee #5 at Stilt, Frank was witness to, and part of, the successful building and sale of a fintech company, uniquely positioning him to create content for founders about all things startups.