1. Choose a business name for the LLC and check for availability.
- Please see our section on choosing and checking the availability of a name for your small business, as well as our section on the trademark law aspects of choosing a name.
- Ohio law requires that an LLC name contain the words "limited liability company" or one of the following abbreviations: "LLC," "L.L.C.," "limited," "ltd.," or "ltd". Additionally, your business name must be distinguishable from other names on file with the Secretary of State (limited exceptions apply).
- The Secretary of State's website has useful guidelines and a search system to help you check the availability of your desired business name.
- Although you are not required to do so, consider registering your business name as a federal and/or state trademark.
2. Prepare and file articles of organization with the Secretary of State.
- The filing fee is $125. The Secretary of State's website has a simple, fill-in-the-blank form for the articles of organization. Note that the company's registered agent for service of process must sign this form in the Original Appointment of Agent section. For general information on articles of organization, see the Articles of Organization page.
3. Negotiate and execute an operating agreement.
- Ohio does not require an operating agreement in order to form an LLC, but executing one is highly advisable. There is no set criteria for the content of an operating agreement, but it typically includes topics such as how meetings are conducted, how the company will be managed, what capital contributions are required from each member, and how profits and losses will be allocated. The operating agreement does not need to be filed with the state. Please see the Operating Agreement page for details.
4. Obtain any required local licenses.
- See the general section on forming a LLC for details.
5. Determine what tax and other regulatory obligations the LLC has, and take care of any necessary registrations.
- Request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This can be done via its online application. There is no filing fee.
- If you have an employee or employees in Ohio, you need to register for Ohio employment taxes using the Ohio Business Gateway.
- Whenever you hire an employee in Ohio, you must inform both the IRS and the State of Ohio. You can find details of all the necessary steps, including verifying work eligibility and withholding allowances, on the Hiring Employees section of the IRS website. You can find state-level information on reporting new hires at the Ohio New Hire Reporting Center.
- If you have an employee or employees in Ohio, you need to obtain workers’ compensation coverage or be granted the privilege of self-insurance for liabilities. The Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation administers the program.
- As a small business owner or employer, there may be other informational returns that you have to file annually or semi-annually with the IRS. For more information, take a look at the IRS Guide To Information Returns.
6. Open a bank account for your business.
- It is a good idea to keep your business's finances separate from your personal accounts. A good way to do this early on is by opening a bank account for your business. You will probably need a Tax ID number (EIN), a copy of the articles of organization, and a resolution identifying authorized signers if those names are not listed in the articles. Here is one example of the documentation that banks ask for.
- Ohio requires certain documents to be kept at an LLC's principal place of business. A list of the required documents is located in Ohio Rev. Code § 1705.28.