Ohio Name Search

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Ohio LLC Name Search

Quick Start Guide
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Ohio.

Detailed Lessons:
1. Name Search ← you are here
2. Registered Agent
3. Filing Forms
4. Operating Agreement
5. Tax ID Number (EIN)

Ohio LLC Costs:
Ohio LLC filing fee: $99
Ohio LLC annual report fee: none

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Hire a professional to form your LLC in Ohio:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)


Video Transcript:

The following information is provided for educational purposes only and in no way constitutes legal, tax, or financial advice. For legal, tax, or financial advice specific to your business needs, we encourage you to consult with a licensed attorney and/or CPA in your State. The following information is copyright protected. No part may be redistributed, copied, modified or adapted without prior written consent of the author. In this video, we are going to teach you how to research and choose your desired LLC name. The purpose of this video is to help you: avoid infringing upon someone else’s name rights, to help you differentiate your business name from existing entities, and to make sure your desired LLC name is available for use. In order to make sure your desired LLC name is available for use, you will need to search it against the existing organized entities on the State’s online database. We will first walk you through some requirements and restrictions and then later we will show you how to perform your search. Name Requirements. Your LLC name must end with the words “Limited Liability Company”, or the abbreviations “L.L.C.” or “LLC”. Using the abbreviation “LLC” is the most common. For example, Joe wants to start a company by the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services”. Since he is forming an LLC, he must file under the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services, LLC”. Again, using the abbreviation “LLC” (or the full word “Limited Liability Company”) is a requirement when forming an LLC. Name Restrictions. Your LLC name cannot imply that it is a corporation. You are not allowed to use the words “Corporation” or “Incorporated”, or the abbreviations “Corp.” or “Inc.” anywhere in your LLC name. Let’s look at our example again. Since Joe wants to form an LLC, he cannot call his company “Joe’s Landscaping Services, Inc., LLC” or “Joe’s Landscaping Services Incorporated, LLC”. Your desired LLC name must also be “distinguishable”. This means it cannot be too similar to the names of existing organized entities that are found in the results during the search of the database. We will now illustrate several examples of distinguishability, and we will provide examples you may see while performing your search. Differences in designators, which are the identifiers at the end of a business name, do not create distinguishability. Examples of designators would be “Inc.” or “Corp.” (for Corporations) and “LLC” or “L.L.C” (for Limited Liability Companies). There are other designators as well, but these are the most commonly used. For example, your desired LLC name is “Smith Investments, LLC”, but during the search of the database, let’s say you found the business under the name “Smith Investments, Inc.” In this example, your desired LLC name would not be available for use. You would have to think of an alternative name that is unique and different. An example would be “Smith Financial Group, LLC”. Grammatical Differences. The following do not create distinguishability: differences and variables in singular, plural, and possessive forms of a word. For example, your desired LLC name is “Apple Farm, LLC”. Let’s just say during the search you found the business under the name “Apple Farms, LLC”, or let’s say you also found a business under “Apple’s Farm, LLC” (with an apostrophe “s”). Both of these names, although slightly different, are too similar and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An example of an alternative name would be “Bob’s Apple Orchard, LLC”. The following do not create distinguishability: differences in articles such as “A”, “An”, or “The”. For example, your desired LLC name is “Print Shop, LLC”. Let’s just say that during the search of the database you found a business called “The Print Shop, LLC”, or you found a business called “A Print Shop, LLC”. Again, although they seem different, these names are all the same in the eyes of the State, and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An alternative name would be “Printing Solutions, LLC”. The following also do not create distinguishability: the use of conjunctions such as “And”, “Or”, and the ampersand symbol (&). Let’s say your desired LLC name is “Night & Day, LLC” with the ampersand symbol (&). But during your search, you find a “Night and Day, LLC”, or you found a “Night Day LLC”. Again, both of these examples are too similar, and your desired LLC name is not distinguishable and therefore not available for use. An example of an alternative name would be “Moon and Sunshine, LLC”. The following also do not create distinguishability: the use of certain punctuation such as hyphens, slashes, periods, commas, etcetera. Let’s say your desired LLC name is “Peter Paul & Mary Studios, LLC”, but during your search you found “Peter-Paul-Mary Studios, Incorporated”, or you found a “Peter, Paul, and Mary Studios, Incorporated”. Again, both of these examples are too similar, and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An alternative example would be “PPM Productions, LLC”. Alphanumeric: differences in numerical, or written numbers does not create distinguishability. For example, Let’s say your desired LLC name is “Three Teachers Consulting, LLC” (with the number “three” spelled out), but during your search of the database you found a company called “3 Teachers Consulting, LLC” (with the number “3”). Again, these are deceptively similar; the State does not look at these as any different, and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An alternative example would be “A Few Good Teachers Consulting, LLC”. Deceptively Similar. Names that are too similar to existing organized entities also do not create distinguishability. For example, your desired LLC name is “Speedy Delivery Services, LLC”, but during your search, let’s say you find a “Speed Delivery Services, LLC”, or you find a “Super Speedy Delivery Services, LLC”. Again, these names are too similar, therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An example of an alternative name would be “At Your Door Quick, LLC”. Takeaways. As you can see, just filing your paperwork with your desired LLC name is not as straightforward as you may have originally thought. The most important takeaways from showing you all these examples are as follows: it’s important to make sure your name is truly unique and not too similar to the names of existing organized entities; if your desired LLC name is unavailable for use, either by its exact match already being used, or by it being too similar to an existing name, we recommend using some creativity and coming up with a variation of your original LLC name, so that the name is now unique and is “distinguishable”, and stands apart from other businesses. Some additional tips to think of when creating your LLC name are: Make your LLC name easy to spell. You want to make sure people can find you when they’re looking for you. Make your LLC name short. Shorter names are easier for people to remember. Make your LLC name have a positive connotation. Leave people with a good feeling when they hear about your business. You are now ready to search your desired LLC name against the State’s online database. We showed you a number of examples where the desired LLC names were not available for use, but don’t worry. In the next part of this video, we will provide plenty of examples of names that are available for use, so that you can best understand the database and the results that you see. Let’s head over to the State’s online database. The link below this video will take you there. Welcome to the State’s online database. Before we begin, there’s a few things we need to discuss. Company Statuses in the Ohio Database. Companies in the Ohio Database have different statuses that you will see when searching your desired LLC name. Results for an existing company’s name could show: “Active”, “Hold”, “Cancelled”, or “Dead”. You may see other statuses, but these are the most common. Next, we’ll give you a quick summary of what each status means. “Active”. If you find a business name that has an “Active” status, you will not be able to use this name for your LLC . “Hold”. If you find a business with a “Hold” status, these names have been cancelled by the State but they are protected for 1 year. We recommend avoiding names with a “Hold” status by coming up with a unique variation. However, if this is a name you must have, you can contact the State to check its status and to see if it will become available for use. The State’s contact information is below this video. Let’s look at the other 2 statuses. You might also see a status “Cancelled”. These names were cancelled by the State and they are no longer in use. You are free to use these names. You might also see a “Dead” status. These names are also no longer in use, and you are free to use these names. Let’s look at some examples of names that you can use. Example 1, let’s say that your desired LLC name was “Chocolate Cupcake Factory, LLC”. Let’s head over to the State’s database and let’s just search the words “chocolate cupcake factory”. Remember, don’t include the letters LLC. What I’m going to do is I’m going to go ahead and type in “chocolate cupcake factory” in the “Business Name” line. I’ll leave everything else as it is (the defaults), and then click “Search”. As you can see on the next page, it says “Total Number of filings found is 0”; this is good news. Since there were no names that were found, your desired LLC name is available for use. Let’s look at another example. Let’s say your desired LLC name is “Think Big Properties, LLC”. Let’s head over to the database and let’s search the words “think big properties”. I’m going to go ahead and type in “think big properties” in the “Business Name” box, and then click “Search”. As you can see, the State did find 1 result, but let’s look at it more closely. We’ll see here that the business name is “Think Big Properties, LLC”. It does say it’s a Limited Liability Company; however, if we jump over to the status column, you can see that this is a dead LLC. Whenever you find names that have a dead status, that means they are available, and in this example “Think Big Properties, LLC” is available for use. Let’s look at 2 more examples. These are going to be names that you cannot use. For our 1st example, let’s say your desired LLC name is “Brooks Auto Repair, LLC”. Let’s go ahead and search the words “Brooks auto repair” in the State’s database. I’m going to enter “Brooks auto repair” after “Business Name” and click “Search”. As you can see on the next page, we have 1 result. The name is “Brooks Auto Repair, Inc.”. You can see it’s a corporation, and the status is active. Since we’ve found an existing business by the name of “Brooks Auto Repair, Inc.” even though that ours is an LLC, remember, the designator “LLC” or “Inc.” does not distinguish or make the names any different, and this would be denied by the State. Therefore, the desired LLC of “Brooks Auto Repair, LLC” is not available for use. Let’s look at the next example. Let’s say your desired LLC name is “East Coast Properties, LLC”. Let’s head over to the State Database and let’s search the words “East Coast properties”. I’m going to enter “East Coast properties” and click “Search”. On the next page, we have 1 result that was found. The business name is “East Coast Properties, LLC”. This is a Limited Liability Company and its status is “Active”. Because we found an existing business name with the identical name that we want, in this case, the desired LLC name is not available for use. Takeaways. You want to search your desired LLC name every way that you can think of. The good news is that you can search as many names and variations as you like and it will cost you nothing. Remember, this is important to your LLC, so take the time to ensure that your name is unique and does not conflict with an existing business. If you have any questions about the database, or if you are unsure if your name is available, you can call the State at the number below this video. Once you do find a name that is unique and distinguishable from existing businesses, you can then proceed to the next step. This now concludes the Name Research Lesson.

Ohio Business Name Database

I know the link looks crazy, but it’s the correct one:
https://www5.sos.state.oh.us/ords/f?p=100:1:0:::::

Need to save time? Hire a professional to form your LLC in Ohio:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)

Next Step

After you’ve found an available LLC name, you can then proceed to the next lesson: LLC Filing Forms.

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Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator at LLC University
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! We teach people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your entrepreneurial journey.

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