Starting an Ohio LLC, step-by-step
Starting an Ohio LLC costs $99. And it takes 1 day to get an LLC in Ohio.
Here are the 5 steps to forming an LLC in Ohio:
- Choose an LLC Name
- Select a Statutory Agent
- File Articles of Organization
- Create an Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN
If you want to form your LLC yourself, follow our free guide below.
If you want someone to take care of it for you, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent.
(We recommend Northwest. We've reviewed all the top companies in the industry. And Northwest is our #1 pick for prices, customer support, and address privacy. Check out Northwest vs LegalZoom to learn more.)
How much does it cost to start an LLC in Ohio?
It costs $99 to start an LLC in Ohio. This is the fee to file the Articles of Organization – the document that creates an LLC.
To learn more about LLC Costs, see LLC Costs in Ohio.
How long does it take to get an LLC in Ohio?
If you file your LLC by mail, it will be approved in 1 business day (plus mail time).
But if you file online, your LLC will be approved in 1 business day.
Please see How long does it take to get an LLC in Ohio to check for any delays.
Here are the steps to forming an LLC in Ohio
1. Search your LLC Name
Search your Ohio LLC Name to make sure it’s available in the state.
You need to do this because two businesses in the state can’t have the same name.
First, search your business name and compare it to existing businesses in Ohio. You can make sure the business name you want is unique from existing businesses using the Ohio Business Search.
Second, familiarize yourself with the naming rules in Ohio (so your Ohio LLC gets approved).
We’ll explain both in more detail here: Ohio LLC Name.
2. Choose an Ohio Statutory Agent
The next step is to choose an Ohio Statutory Agent (also called a Registered Agent).
An Ohio Registered Agent is a person or company who accepts legal mail and state notices on behalf of your Ohio Limited Liability Company.
Who can be an Ohio LLC Registered Agent?
You have 3 options for who can be the Registered Agent:
- A friend or family member
- A Registered Agent Service
Ohio law requires that all LLC Registered Agents have an address in Ohio. This can be a physical street address or a PO Box address in Ohio.
The Statutory Agent must be available at this address during normal business hours to accept legal documents.
And the Registered Agent’s name and address will be listed on public records.
If you don’t have an address in Ohio, or you want more privacy, you can hire a Registered Agent Service for your LLC.
We recommend Northwest Registered Agent
Our favorite feature about Northwest is they’ll let you use their office address throughout your LLC filing. This way, you can keep your address off public records.
They’ll also scan any mail sent to your LLC and upload it to your online account.
Northwest has excellent customer service, and they’re who we trust to be our own Statutory Agent.
3. File Ohio LLC Articles of Organization
To start an LLC, you need to file the Ohio Articles of Organization.
This gets filed with the Ohio Secretary of State.
The Ohio Articles of Organization costs $99 if you file online.
This is a one-time fee to create your LLC.
If you want to file this yourself, see our step-by-step guide: Ohio Articles of Organization.
Or, you can hire a company to do it for you.
4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement
An Ohio LLC Operating Agreement serves as a “companion” document to the Articles of Organization.
The Articles of Organization creates your LLC, and the Operating Agreement shows who owns the LLC.
Additionally, some banks require an Operating Agreement when you open an LLC bank account.
And having an Operating Agreement will be very helpful if you ever end up in court. Reason being, it helps prove that your LLC is being run properly.
That’s why we recommend that all LLCs have an Operating Agreement – including Single-Member LLCs.
Furthermore, an Operating Agreement is an “internal document“. Meaning, you don’t need to file it with any government agency (like the Ohio Secretary of State or the IRS). Just keep a copy with your business records.
You can download a free template below.
Then, learn how to fill it out by watching our step-by-step Ohio Operating Agreement video.
5. Get an EIN for your LLC
The next step is to get an Ohio EIN Number from the IRS for your LLC.
Note: An EIN Number is also called a Federal Tax ID Number or Federal Employer Identification Number.
An Employer Identification Number is used to:
- identify your LLC for tax purposes
- open a business bank account
- apply for an Ohio business license and/or permits
How much does an EIN cost?
Getting an EIN Number from the Internal Revenue Service is completely free.
How long does it take to get an EIN?
If you apply online, it takes 15 minutes.
If you apply by mail or fax, it can take 1-3 months.
How can I get an EIN?
US Citizens/US Residents: If you have an SSN or ITIN, you can apply for an EIN online. Follow these instructions: Apply for an EIN online.
Non-US Residents: You can’t get an EIN online, but you can still get one by fax or by mail. Follow these instructions: How to get an EIN without an SSN or ITIN.
What do I do after my LLC is approved?
After your Ohio LLC is approved, there are some additional steps.
Open an LLC bank account
You’ll want to open a business bank account for your LLC.
This makes accounting and record-keeping much easier for your business finances.
Having a separate business bank account also maintains your personal liability protection. This is because it keeps your business entity finances separate from your personal finances.
Get Ohio business licenses and permits
Good news, Ohio doesn’t have a state general business license.
However, depending on where your LLC is located, you may need local business licenses or permits.
For example, if you want to start a daycare, you may need business licenses from the city and/or county.
You can learn more on our Ohio Business License page.
File and pay taxes
LLCs don’t pay federal income tax on the business income. Instead, the LLC Members pay the taxes for the LLC.
Said another way, each business owner pays taxes for the LLC business profits as a part of their personal tax return.
How will my Limited Liability Company be taxed?
By default, an Ohio LLC is taxed by the IRS based on the number of owners your LLC has:
- A Single-Member LLC is taxed like a Sole Proprietorship.
- A Multi-Member LLC is taxed like a Partnership.
Alternatively, you can ask the IRS to tax your LLC like a C-Corporation or S-Corporation.
Besides federal income tax, there are also state and local income taxes – and sales tax. Learn more in Ohio LLC Taxes.
Pay the Ohio Commercial Activity Tax
Most businesses in Ohio must also file and pay the Ohio Commercial Activity Tax (CAT).
What is the Ohio CAT?
The Ohio CAT is an annual privilege tax. Meaning, it’s a tax on businesses for the privilege of doing business in the state of Ohio.
The amount you owe for Commercial Activity Tax is based on your Ohio LLC’s taxable gross receipts made in Ohio in the previous calendar year. And this payment is the Annual Minimum Tax.
You can find out more about what the Ohio Department of Taxation considers to be taxable and how to know if your gross receipts are taxable in Ohio here: Ohio Commercial Activity Tax: General Information.
How much will I owe for Commercial Activity Tax?
The amount that you owe is called the Annual Minimum Tax, and will vary based on your income range.
- If your LLC makes more than $150,000 per year in taxable gross receipts, you must file the CAT and pay an Annual Minimum Tax.
- If your LLC makes less than $150,000 per year in taxable gross receipts, you don’t have to file the CAT or pay an Annual Minimum Tax.
What is the Annual Minimum Tax (AMT)?
The Annual Minimum Tax is the minimum amount your LLC will need to pay for that year’s Commercial Activity Tax.
It is also based on the previous calendar year’s taxable gross receipts.
Said another way, the AMT is the minimum amount you’ll pay for that year’s Commercial Activity Tax.
The Annual Minimum Tax:
- costs $150.
- is due by May 10th of the current tax year.
- is paid with your annual return every year.
How much is the LLC Annual Minimum Tax?
The amount of Annual Minimum Tax your LLC will owe varies based on how much money your LLC made the previous year:
- If your LLC makes less than $150,000 per year in taxable gross receipts, you don’t have to pay the Annual Minimum Tax or file the CAT.
- If your LLC makes more than $150,000 per year in taxable gross receipts, you’re required to file the CAT and pay an Annual Minimum Tax once per year on your annual return.
When are the CAT and AMT due?
How often you’ll file your CAT return varies depending on last year’s taxable gross receipts:
Most businesses will need to file a CAT return once every year on your annual return.
That said, if your LLC’s taxable gross receipts were over $1 million per year, you’re required to file a CAT Return every quarter (instead of once per year on your annual return).
And your Annual Minimum Tax will be $800 or more.
You can read more about the CAT and Annual Minimum Tax fees here: Ohio Commercial Activity Tax: General Information.
And you can register for Commercial Activity Tax online with the Ohio Department of Taxation using the Ohio Business Gateway.
How to Start an LLC in Ohio FAQs
Can I start an LLC online in Ohio?
Yes, you can file your LLC online in Ohio. The Articles of Organization filing fee is $99.
When you start your LLC online, it will be approved in 1 business day.
What are the benefits of an LLC?
The first benefit of an LLC is personal asset protection. Meaning, if your business is sued, your personal assets – like your home, cars, and bank accounts – are protected.
This protection applies to all LLC owners (called LLC Members). It doesn’t matter if you have a Single-Member LLC or Multi-Member LLC. All of the LLC owners are protected from the business debts and liabilities.
This type of protection wouldn’t apply if you operated as a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership. With these types of informal business structures, the owners aren’t protected in the event of a lawsuit. For that reason, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are a much more popular business structure.
Another benefit is LLC pass-through taxation. This means the LLC itself doesn’t pay federal income taxes. Instead, the profits “pass through” to the LLC Members. And the Members pay the taxes on their personal tax return.
And Ohio state income taxes are very similar, since the Ohio Department of Revenue honors the federal tax treatment of your LLC. Meaning, Ohio LLCs are taxed the same way at the state level.
To learn more, please see How are LLCs taxed.
Is Ohio a good state to start an LLC?
Whether Ohio is a good state to start an LLC depends on where you live – and where you’re doing business.
Meaning, if you live in or do business in Ohio, then you should form your business entity in Ohio. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business.
For example, if you form an LLC in Delaware, but live in and conduct business in Ohio, you’ll also need to register your Delaware LLC in Ohio (and pay extra fees). And you’ll end up paying Ohio taxes anyway. This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
In summary, if you live in and conduct business in Ohio, then yes, Ohio is a good state to start a business. If you aren’t an Ohio resident or business owner, Ohio isn’t a good state to start a business.
Real estate exception: If you’re purchasing real estate outside of Ohio, you should form your LLC in the state where the property is located.
For more information, please see Best State to Form an LLC.
Do I need to file an Ohio LLC Annual Report?
Ohio LLCs don’t have to file an Annual Report or pay an annual fee.
Although most states do have annual reports and fees, Ohio is one of the few states that doesn’t require LLCs to file an Annual Report or pay an annual fee.
For more information, see: Ohio LLC Annual Report.
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.