Step into Ohio’s business world with confidence. Our guide simplifies the entity name search process, paving the way for your success.
We will guide you through the crucial steps of performing an Ohio business name search using resources provided by the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. We’ll also delve into understanding Ohio’s business laws, and the need to check for potential trademark conflicts with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Name searching is one of the initial steps in your business start-up process in Ohio.
How to Look Up an LLC in Ohio (Summary)
To look up an LLC or any business entity in Ohio, you can follow these steps:
- Go to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website at https://www.sos.state.oh.us/
- Click on the “Businesses” tab in the top navigation menu and select “Business Search” from the drop-down menu.
- In the “Business Name” field, enter the name of the LLC you are looking for. You can also search by the LLC’s ID number or the name of the registered agent.
- Click on the “Search” button to display the search results.
- Look for the LLC you are interested in and click on the “Details” button to view its information, including its status, registration date, and contact information.
What is an Ohio Business Entity?
An Ohio business entity is a business organization that is legally formed and recognized under the laws of the state of Ohio. Like other states, Ohio recognizes several types of business entities, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. They include:
- Sole Proprietorship: The simplest form of business, where the business and owner are legally the same entity. The owner is personally liable for all business debts and obligations.
- Partnership: A business owned by two or more individuals. Partnerships can be general partnerships, limited partnerships (LPs), or limited liability partnerships (LLPs), depending on the liability and management structure.
- Corporation: A separate legal entity owned by shareholders, which can be a for-profit (C corporation or S corporation) or a nonprofit organization.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): A hybrid entity combining the limited liability advantages of a corporation with the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership.
Ohio Secretary of State Name Search
To form a business entity in Ohio, you typically need to file certain documents (like articles of incorporation for a corporation or articles of organization for an LLC) with the Ohio Secretary of State. You’ll also need to choose a unique name for your business, which can’t be the same as or too similar to other business names already registered in Ohio
If you’re having trouble finding the LLC you’re looking for, try broadening your search by using fewer keywords or entering different variations of the company’s name. You can also contact the Ohio Secretary of State’s office for assistance.
How to do a business name search in Ohio
Searching for Ohio businesses is done through the Ohio Secretary of State site. The public records database maintains a log of all business filings and is easy to navigate.
Search Business Names in Ohio (Ohio LLC Lookup Guide)
It is used to check if the Ohio Business Name Search has been used by any other entity. It’s used to find information about an existing business, such as whether it is in good standing and the address of the registered agent. The business search is also available if an LLC requires a certified copy of its Ohio Articles of Organization.
3 Steps to Search by Name
- Enter the exact name of your business in the search box. Click “search.”
- The list will contain all names that match your search criteria. Take a look at the list. Click the entity number to return after finding the business name.
- You will see the details of the business name you selected on the previous page. This information includes links to images and a history of all filings.
3 Steps to Search for a Detail Business
- If the business name, type, status, or business location are known, you can use the detailed search option.
- After the search has been initiated, you will see a page listing all the results. Click the entity number next to the business name to find out more information.
- Images and document numbers will be displayed along with the files submitted.
3 Steps to Search by Number
- You can refine your search by entering the document ID or registration number.
- The search results for a single ID number will display information such as the current date, status, and business type.
- A number for the entity will be displayed. Click this link to go to the next page. You can view all files associated with the ID or number on the details page.
3 Steps to Search by Agent or Contact Name
- If you can find the correct name, enter it into the search box.
- A list of officials will be displayed in the search results. Click the number in the left column to retrieve more information about the entity.
- Clicking the entity number will bring up a new page with the details of the entity, which were included in the original documents. Click the document ID to view additional filings.
2 Steps to Search by Name Availability
- Choose the name that the company will use.
- Once you have chosen a name, use the availability tool for information about whether it is still available.
1. Trademark Search
When searching for a business name, it’s important to note that availability doesn’t necessarily mean the name is free to use if it’s already a registered trademark.
To avoid potential complications down the line, it’s wise to conduct a thorough trademark search using the Trademark Electronic Search System before finalizing a business name.
2. Choose a Registered Agent
After you have chosen an LLC name that is distinctive and unique, you can now choose your LLC’s Registered Agent.
3. Check if the Domain Name is Available
To check if a domain name is available, you can follow these steps:
- Go to a domain registrar website, such as GoDaddy.com or Namecheap.com.
- In the search bar on the homepage, type in the domain name you want to check.
- Click on the search button to see if the domain name is available or not.
- If the domain name is available, you will be prompted to purchase it. If it’s not available, the registrar will suggest some alternative options or you can try a different domain name.
It’s a good idea to check the availability of multiple domain name options as your first choice may already be taken.
Additionally, if you are considering registering a domain name for your business, make sure to also check for any existing trademarks that may conflict with your chosen domain name.
4. Check if Social Media Name is Available
To check if a social media name is available for a new business, you can follow these steps:
- Start by choosing a social media platform where you would like to create an account for your business. Some of the popular options include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok.
- Once you have selected the platform, go to the sign-up page and try to create an account using your desired social media name.
- If the name is already taken, the platform will display an error message indicating that the name is not available. In this case, you may need to consider alternative names for your social media account.
- If the name is available, the platform will allow you to create an account using that name.
- It’s important to note that just because a social media name is available, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s free to use. You should still do your due diligence to ensure that the name is not already a registered trademark or being used by another business in your industry.
5. Register Ohio Business Entity
When you complete the required documents for filing a new business entity, you then register your business and business name with the state. The state of Ohio will either approve your business name or reject it.
If you hire a good LLC service like Northwest Registered Agent, ZenBusiness or Incfile, these LLC services have business name tools available for you to do a quick search. I recommend using any of these 3 services to assist you with forming a new business. They can save you time and provide you with guidance through the formation process.
6. Register an Employer ID Number (EIN) With the IRS
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify businesses and other entities for tax purposes.
Here’s how you can get an EIN:
- Determine if you need an EIN: You’ll need an EIN if you have employees, operate your business as a corporation or partnership, file employment tax returns, have a Keogh plan, or are required to file any of the following tax returns: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
- Apply for an EIN: You can apply for an EIN online, by fax, by mail, or by phone. The quickest and easiest way is to apply online through the IRS website.
- Provide the necessary information: When applying for an EIN, you’ll need to provide your legal name, trade name (if applicable), business address, and the type of legal structure of your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, LLC).
- Wait for your EIN: If you apply online, you can receive your EIN immediately after completing the application. If you apply by fax or mail, it can take up to four weeks to receive your EIN.
Note that there is no fee to apply for an EIN. Once you receive your EIN, be sure to keep it safe and use it on all tax documents and forms.
7. Create a Brand Logo
Creating a business logo involves several steps. Here’s a general overview of the process:
- Define your brand: Before you start creating a logo, you need to define your brand’s personality, values, and mission. This will help you create a logo that accurately represents your brand.
- Determine the design style: Decide on the design style you want for your logo. Do you want it to be modern or classic, minimalistic or intricate, colorful or monochromatic? Consider your brand personality and target audience when making this decision.
- Choose the colors: Pick a color palette that reflects your brand personality and complements your design style. Colors have psychological meanings and can affect how people perceive your brand.
- Brainstorm ideas: Brainstorm several logo design concepts based on your brand personality, values, and mission. You can use online resources for inspiration or hire a professional logo designer to create a custom logo for you.
- Sketch your ideas: Once you have some logo design concepts, sketch them out on paper to visualize how they might look. This can help you narrow down your options and refine your ideas.
- Design the logo: Use a graphic design software program like Adobe Illustrator or Canva to create your logo design. Make sure it is scalable and can be used across different mediums.
- Get feedback: Share your logo design with colleagues, friends, or family to get feedback. This can help you refine your design further.
- Finalize the logo: Once you have incorporated feedback, finalize your logo design. Be sure to use high-quality images and files for your logo.
- Protect your logo: If you want to protect your logo, consider trademarking it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This will prevent others from using a similar logo and protect your brand’s identity.
8. Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan involves a comprehensive process that covers various aspects of your business, including the industry, market research, marketing and sales strategies, financial projections, and more. Here are some steps to guide you in writing a business plan and links to resources that can help you:
- Executive summary: This section provides a summary of your business plan, highlighting key information about your business, target market, products or services, and financial projections. It should be brief but comprehensive.
- Company description: This section describes your company’s mission, vision, values, and legal structure. It also includes information about the management team, business location, and history.
- Market analysis: This section provides a detailed analysis of your industry, target market, competition, and customer demographics. It also includes information about market trends and growth projections.
- Marketing and sales strategies: This section outlines your marketing and sales strategies, including branding, advertising, pricing, and distribution channels.
- Products and services: This section describes your products or services, their features and benefits, and how they will meet the needs of your target market.
- Financial projections: This section provides a detailed financial forecast for your business, including projected revenue, expenses, profits, and cash flow. It also includes a break-even analysis and funding requirements.
Here are some links to resources that can help you in writing a business plan:
- Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan, including templates and sample plans.
- SCORE: SCORE provides free business plan templates and guides, as well as mentoring and counseling services.
- Bplans: Bplans offers a wide variety of business plan templates, tools, and resources, including sample plans for different industries.
- LivePlan: LivePlan is a cloud-based software that provides business planning tools and templates, financial forecasting, and collaboration features.
- Canva: Canva offers a range of customizable business plan templates and design tools to help you create a professional-looking plan.
9. Open a Business Bank Account in Ohio
A bank account is generally required for a new Limited Liability Company (LLC) or corporation to separate personal finances from business finances and to establish a clear record of business transactions.
Having a separate bank account for your LLC will help you keep track of your business’s income and expenses, which will be useful for tax purposes, accounting, and financial management. It will also make it easier to accept payments from customers and pay bills, suppliers, and employees.
To open a bank account for your LLC, you will typically need to provide the following documents:
- Certificate of Formation: This is a legal document that shows that your LLC has been registered with the state.
- Operating Agreement: This document outlines the rules and procedures for running your LLC and is required by some banks.
- EIN (Employer Identification Number) Confirmation Letter: This is a letter from the IRS confirming your LLC’s tax identification number.
- Identification documents: You will need to provide personal identification documents, such as a driver’s license, passport, or state ID, and proof of address, such as a utility bill.
Note that the specific requirements for opening a bank account for an LLC may vary depending on the bank and state where you are located. It’s best to contact the bank you plan to use to inquire about their specific requirements.
Ohio Business 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.
Ohio Name Search FAQ
What is a DBA?
DBA stands for “doing business as.” A DBA permits a person to register their business under a different name than the owner. A DBA registered is an operational and fully legal business.
Why do I need to create a DBA in Ohio?
If someone intends to use a fictional name instead of the owner’s, Ohio requires that they have a DBA.
How do I create a DBA in Ohio?
Contact your county clerk’s office to determine if the name you are looking for is available in Ohio.
What are the steps to register and file an Ohio business name?
The information required to register and file a business includes the name of the person filing, their principal location, and the type and nature of the business they are operating under.
Is there anything more than choosing a business name?
Yes. Two things are important to remember when creating a DBA entity. Check with domain name companies to see if the business has an available URL. Consider setting up an email account for the business entity if there is no expectation of a web presence.
How can I verify if an LLC is registered in Ohio?
You can use the Ohio Business Search Tool to check if your business name appears.
Do I have to name my LLC after me?
Although there is no prohibition against naming your LLC after yourself (most experts recommend against it).
An advantage of an LLC is that you can choose a different business name, which can make your business sound more professional.
What words are prohibited in the Ohio LLC name?
It is not possible to include words in business names that suggest that the company is a bank or financial institution, or that it is affiliated with a local or state government agency.
Ohio bans profanity.
What is a brand name?
A brand name is a name that a company gives to a product line or product. It can be the exact same as the company name, or something else.
Our How To Name An LLC guide will help you learn more about branding your business entity name.
Do I need to include LLC in the name?
Yes. Yes. in their legal name.
Find out more information about LLC naming requirements at the Ohio Naming Guidelines section.
What do I need to do to renew my Ohio business name?
Ohio does not require LLCs to renew their legal names, but they must renew trade names every five years.
Is it possible for my Ohio LLC to have a different business name than my Ohio LLC?
Some companies prefer to operate under a different name than their legal name. It can be called either a “doing business as” (DBA) or a trade name.
Ohio’s Secretary of State requires that LLC trade names be filed.
Do I need a DBA for my LLC?
If your LLC plans to conduct business under another name than its legal name, a DBA is not required. Read our guide to filing a DBA, and then select Ohio from the dropdown menu.
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 journalism 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: firstname.lastname@example.org