How to Get a Business License in Ohio

A business license may be required by both state and local agencies to get your Ohio business off the ground. These documents, or registrations, are required to certify that your business is permitted to operate in Ohio.

It can be confusing to determine which licenses are required and how to obtain them, especially for new business owners.

This guide will show you how to obtain a Ohio business license so that you can start your business in no time.

Are You Required to Get a Ohio Business License?

Ohio, like most other states, does not have a comprehensive state business license. Nearly all Ohio businesses will need at least one business license before they can open their doors. If selling tangible goods or tax-deductible services, most businesses will need to have a vendor license.

Local licenses may be required for businesses. These licenses are managed by the city or county governments of the area where they operate. These licenses can be general business licenses, or they could be specific to an industry or profession.

What are the requirements for a Ohio business license?

To legally run your Ohio business, you will need to get a few business licenses. Although Ohio doesn’t require a general operating license for businesses, certain professions and industries will need specific licenses. A vendor license is required for any business that sells or leases tangible property or services normally subject to retail sales taxes. Ohio businesses can obtain a vendor license to collect appropriate sales and use taxes for tangible items and taxable services.

You may need to obtain permits or licenses from the local government in Ohio depending on your business or location. Cincinnati, for example, requires you to have a variety of business licenses before starting your business. These businesses tend to be in the entertainment, transport, health, or food industries. The Cincinnati Department of Finance & Budget website has the complete list. You can also contact your county recorder or city clerk for information about other cities and counties.

To legally operate, your business might need federal licensing. Federal licenses are not as common but are necessary for certain businesses.

Steps to Obtaining Your Ohio Business License

Step 1. Step 1.

Before applying for an Ohio business licence. You can find help in starting your business by reading one of our guides on Starting a Business, Forming an LLC or Best LLC Services. After you have registered your business, make sure to get all your paperwork in order.

  • Name of the business
  • If you are a sole proprietor, an EIN (Employer Identification Number) or SSN (Single Owner Number) is required.
  • Type of business entity (LLC, partnership, or corporation)
  • An address for your business and a phone number
  • A business plan which includes expected revenue and expenses
  • Where required, a COI (certificate of insurance) is required for your business insurance policy.

Step 2. Step 2.

Sales tax must be collected if your business sells or leases taxable goods and services. You will need an Ohio vendor license to do this. This is made easy by the Ohio Business Gateway. It’s a one-stop website for all things business licensing, permitting, and registration related to Ohio.

Step 3. Step 3.

Next, check to see if any local licenses apply to your business. While licenses are required for certain occupations and professions in most cities, smaller towns and villages may require licenses to cover all business activities. Visit their websites to learn more about your local municipalities and apply for licenses. These websites can be found at the Ohio Municipal League’s list of villages and the directory.

Step 4. Step 4.

You should check whether you require any state-regulated licenses. These licenses are only for certain occupations or professions in the following industries: finance, health, and wellness, food service, liquor, entertainment, and construction. However, you can quickly search your business activity, even if it isn’t in these categories. Visit the Ohio State website’s Licenses & Permits to see a complete list of professional and business licenses.

Step 5. Step 5.

Most small businesses won’t need federal permits or licenses. However, a federal license may be required if you are involved in activities regulated at the federal level. The following are common federal licensing areas for business:

  • Agriculture
  • Serving, distribution, or importing alcohol
  • Transport by air, sea or on the ground
  • Explosives, ammunition, and firearms
  • Fish and wildlife, commercial fisheries included.
  • Drilling and mining
  • Nuclear energy
  • Broadcasting on radio and television

Contact the relevant federal agency if you are operating in these industries to find out if you need any licensing or permits.

What is the cost of an Ohio business license?

The vendor license is Ohio’s primary business license. It costs $25 to register. While the vendor license is not required to be renewed, businesses will require a unique vendor license for each location in a multi-location operation. The cost of other business licenses in Ohio may vary depending on where the business is located or its industry. A business license for an arcade located in Cincinnati costs $75 per year, while one for an arcade in Toledo will cost $400 per year. $15 will be charged for each additional machine.

Ohio Business License Renewal

While the Ohio vendor license is not required to be renewed, professional licenses for businesses that are regulated by the state or local governments may need to renew on an annual or bi-annual basis. Contact the agency or department issuing the license for information on the renewal process and fees.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

What are the various types of business licenses available?

Although the term “business license” may be used to describe an operating license, it also refers to many permits. These are the most popular types of business licenses:

  • A business operating license sometimes referred to as a business license
  • A sales tax license allows businesses to sell products and services.
  • If your business sells, distributes, or trades in alcohol, you will need a liquor license
  • Licenses for specialties, such as plumbing, accounting, massage therapy, or legal counsel, are available.

What is the cost of an Ohio business license?

The cost of an Ohio business license will vary depending on the license type, the agency that issued it, and the occupation or profession it licenses. A vendor license is $25, while professional and industry licenses cost between $15 and well over $1,000 annually.

Are LLCs required to get Ohio business licenses?

It is different from obtaining a business license to form an LLC. An LLC must get all licenses necessary to operate a business in Ohio legally. The licenses needed to conduct business legally in Ohio will vary depending upon the location of the LLC. They might include a vendor license or industry- or profession-related licenses as well as licenses required for local governments.

What is the difference between an EIN and a business license?

Although an EIN does not replace a business license in Ohio, both are required to do business in the state. An EIN is a federal tax ID. It is similar to a person’s Social Security number. Your company can operate its business with a business license. A business license can be issued at the federal, city, or state level. It can also regulate or certify all types of operations.

To sell online, do I need an Ohio business license?

Yes. All Ohio businesses selling or leasing tangible goods and taxable services must have a vendor license. Sometimes also called a seller’s permits, this is regardless of whether the business is brick-and-mortar or online. Businesses can use this license to collect the appropriate sales or use tax on any tangible item or taxable service they sell or lease.

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