How to Register an Ohio DBA

Updated: September 27, 2023
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Filing a DBA (doing business as) name is the easiest way to register your business name in Ohio. An Ohio DBA, also known as a Trade Name, allows a business to operate under a different name than its legal name. A DBA allows unincorporated businesses like sole proprietors or partnerships to use a business name that doesn’t include the owners’ names. DBAs can also be used by an LLC or Corporation to operate different lines of business under different names or for branding purposes.

Registering an Ohio DBA (Trade Name) can be very useful, however, it’s important to note that a DBA doesn’t provide the legal benefits and protections that operating under a formal business structure like an LLC or Corporation does. If you’re starting a new business in Ohio it’s often a better idea to consider forming an Ohio LLC as you’ll have a registered business name and get extra legal protections and tax benefits that a DBA does not provide on its own. For more detailed information on the key differences between an LLC and a DBA, check out our DBA vs LLC guide.

Ohio DBA Name Filing Help

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Who Needs an Ohio DBA?

Any business that operates using a business that is different from its legal name should register a Trade Name to ensure they comply with local and state laws. DBAs are useful for a variety of business types and purposes. Some of these include:

  • Allow unincorporated businesses (sole proprietors or partnerships) to operate using a name that does not include the owners’ names. This can help to protect the privacy of the owner.
  • Enable Ohio sole proprietors and partnerships to open a business-only bank account to keep personal and business activity separated.
  • Create a unique brand name for different lines of business or for franchised businesses to operate under their desired name. This is especially useful for LLCs and Corporations as it allows them to have different products or services without needing to create multiple legal entities for each line of business.

How to Register an Ohio Trade Name (DBA)

Before registering your DBA you’ll need to come up with a good business name. You probably already have your business name in mind, but if not you’ll want to ensure that the name follows best practices for a good business name like being clear, concise, unique, and memorable. For more tips visit our guide on how to come up with a business name. Once you have a good business name the process to file your Ohio DBA is fairly straightforward.

How to File a DBA in Ohio:

  1. Conduct a Business Name Availability Search
  2. File your Form 534A: Name Registrations with the Ohio Secretary of State

Step 1: Conduct a Business Name Availability Search

To get an Ohio Trade Name (DBA), you want to start with a business name availability search. To increase the likelihood that your DBA application will be accepted, you will need to ensure that no other business uses the Trade Name that you wish to use and that your business name is unique.

Why is it important to have a unique Business Name?

Your business name is the foundation of your strategic marketing strategy. Choosing a name similar to other businesses can get you lost in the white noise of competition. One massive benefit of an Ohio Trade Name is that it provides you the one chance to break away from the pack.

Without the unique Trade Name, you could be handicapping the best marketing and sales efforts to get your name out there. Worse yet, you could be sending business to others using a similar name.

To recap, we suggest that you do an extensive search to ensure the following:

  • The Trade Name is not currently in use nor too similar to other businesses
  • The business name has never been used previously

Note: If the business name is available and has been used before, it is probably not all that unique. Also, the fact that the name is no longer in use could imply a lack of success on the part of the previous owners.

Searches to Complete

  • Search the Ohio Online Database: Verify that your desired DBA Name is available to register and is not currently used by an existing business. You can complete this by using the Ohio Business Search.
  • Check the US Patent and Trademark (USPTO) System: Once you have verified that your name is available for registration, you’ll also want to ensure that the name is not trademarked. Since the trademark process is at the federal level, it supersedes any level registrations. You can search the USPTO Trademark database here.
  • Website Domain Search: You will also want to complete a domain name search to check if the .com version of your business name is available. If you don’t plan to create a business website, you should still consider registering the domain name to prevent others from using it. Since you can register a new .com domain for less than $10 with Namecheap, it can serve as a very cheap form of insurance against someone using the domain.

Step 2: File your Form 534A: Name Registrations with the Ohio Secretary of State

Once you have completed all the required name availability searches and confirmed that your name can be used, it’s time to complete your Ohio Trade Name registration with the Ohio Secretary of State. When submitting your application you’ll also need to pay the state filing fee of 39.

To complete your Form 534A: Name Registrations be sure you have the following information finalized and on hand:

  • Desired Trade Name
  • Full Name, Address and Phone for each business owner
  • Business Address
  • Business Phone Number
  • Business Description
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Ohio DBA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How much does it cost to get a DBA in Ohio?

The filing cost for a DBA in Ohio is 39.

How long is an Ohio DBA good for?

DBAs in Ohio are valid for 5 years after initial being initially registered.

Where do I register an Ohio DBA?

Ohio DBAs are registered with the Ohio Secretary of State.

Do I need to register my Ohio DBA with the IRS?

No, IRS does not require DBAs to be registered.

What is the purpose of a DBA in Ohio?

Ohio DBAs allow businesses to operate under a different name than their legal name. This allows sole proprietors and partnership businesses to operate under names that do not include their owners’ names.

Can an LLC own a DBA in Ohio?

Yes, an LLC can have as many DBA names as they require to operate their business in Ohio.

Is there a difference between an Ohio DBA and a Trade Name?

No, a DBA or “doing business as” name is the same thing as a Trade Name in Ohio.