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 an Ohio business license so that you can start your business in no time.

Summary: Getting an Ohio Business License

The vendor license, commonly referred to as a seller’s permit, is the sole permit or license issued at the state level in Ohio.

A vendor license is required if you:

  • Operating a business in Ohio
  • intend to sell or lease tangible personal property or services that, if purchased at retail, would typically be liable to sales tax.

For a vendor license, go to the Ohio Business Gateway.

Businesses in some professions and industries may need to have additional unique licenses or permits. Many various vocations that call for licenses or permits are listed on the State of Ohio website, along with the necessary state government agency’s contact details.

Are You Required to Get an 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 an 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 operate legally, 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.

Before applying for an Ohio business license. You can find help in starting your business by reading one of our guides on Starting a Business, Forming an LLC with one of the 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.

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.

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.

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.

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, distributing, 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.

Ohio Business Formation Tips

If you’re ready to start an LLC in Ohio, there are important steps and considerations to keep in mind. Begin by conducting an Ohio entity name search to ensure that your desired business name is available for registration.

Once you’ve confirmed availability, it’s crucial to draft an Ohio LLC operating agreement, which outlines the internal structure and operational guidelines of your LLC. As you proceed, you have the option to act as your own registered agent in Ohio or enlist the services of a professional registered agent.

It’s important to note that the time it can take to get an LLC in Ohio varies, but typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months. To expedite the process, gather all necessary information and promptly submit your filings. Additionally, obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for an Ohio LLC is crucial for tax purposes.

Consider utilizing a good LLC service in Ohio to streamline the formation process and ensure compliance with all legal requirements. Decide if you plan to be your own registered agent. Engaging the services of the best registered agent services in Ohio offers the advantage of efficient handling of important documents and legal notifications.

Don’t forget to acquire a business license in Ohio, adhering to the specific licensing requirements relevant to your industry and location, and when budgeting for LLC formation, consider the cost to start an LLC in Ohio, which typically includes filing fees and any additional services you choose.

If you ever want to change your registered agent in Ohio check out our guide on that.

Finally, should the need arise, understanding how to close and dissolve an Ohio LLC is vital for properly concluding your business operations. Seek guidance LLC professionals like Incfile’s LLC dissolution service to navigate the dissolution process effectively, ensuring compliance with Ohio state regulations.

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 permit, 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.

author avatar
Brian Wilson Writer and Editor
Brian Wilson is the content manager and founder of LLC Radar. Brian grew up in North Texas, just outside of Dallas, and has a bachelor's degree in business from Southern Methodist University. Since graduating from SMU, Brian has gained over 10 years of experience in business writing for several online publications. Brian resides in Plano, Texas and he can be reached by email:   info@llcradar.com Phone: 972-776-4050
  Information provided on this website is for general information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to offer legal advice specific to your business needs. If you need legal advice, you should consult with an attorney. Rankings and reviews are the personal opinions of the authors and/or editors. For questions, while starting a business, we recommend consulting with an attorney or accountant.