Ohio Secretary of State Business Search & Naming Your LLC
Whether you’re searching for the right Ohio business name or registering your LLC with the OH Secretary of State, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on conducting an Ohio business name search, LLC naming rules, fictitious names and registering your business.
Ohio Business Entity and Name Search
You should start naming your business by completing an “Ohio business entity search” with the Ohio SOS. They have a helpful tool on their website that lets you search the registry of OH LLCs and corporations to look up an LLC or corporation and see if someone already has your desired business name.
If the business name is already being used, that means it’s not available and you won’t be able to register it. Try searching for a different business name instead.
Ohio Secretary of State business name search tool
Ohio Secretary of State Rules for LLC Names
Once you’ve decided on a name for your LLC and checked business name availability, you’ll need to meet Ohio Secretary of State naming rules. These do vary from state to state — we’ve got general naming rules below, as well as naming rules specific to LLC businesses formed in OH.
General Business Name Availability Rules
These rules typically apply to all LLCs, no matter what state they are formed in. You will need to pay attention to these rules, as they will influence the name you register your business under for your Ohio LLC.
Your LLC Business Name Must Be Unique
The business name you have chosen cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in the state of Ohio. This is why you should check business name availability on the OH SOS website.
Your LLC Name Must Not Be Confusable With Another Business Name
It’s not enough for your OH LLC name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of a corporation or LLC in Ohio. For example, you cannot use the following factors to say your name is different from the name of another business:
- Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., Ltd., LLC, etc.
- Definite articles like “A,” “And,” “An,” “&,” “The,” etc.
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of a word
- Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
Your LLC Business Name Must Contain Certain Words
All LLCs must have the words “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC” in their name. These words should normally come at the end of the name.
Your Business Name May Have Other General Restrictions
Most states will not allow you to form LLCs with names that:
- Are very similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Ohio Department of Taxation, Ohio Police, Treasury, etc.)
- Suggest affiliation with a federal or state agency or organization
- Use the term “Olympic” or any terms that are trademarks of the Olympic organization
- Imply a purpose that it would be illegal for your business to carry out
Specific LLC Naming Rules for Ohio
In addition to the general rules listed above, the Ohio Secretary of State has some specific business naming rules for your LLC. You will need to follow these rules if you want to name your OH business appropriately:
If a name contains profanity or words or phrases that are generally considered a slur against an ethnic group, religion, gender, or heredity, it is considered unacceptable.
Banks and Trusts
A business name may not include any of the following words without prior approval from the superintendent of financial institutions: bank, banker, banking or trust, or words of similar meaning in any other language. This is true even for businesses that do not engage in banking or trust activities. For example, the name West Bank Condominiums for a condominium development company must be approved by the superintendent of financial institutions before it may be registered with the secretary of state.
All insurance agencies, whether domestic or foreign, must be registered with the Ohio secretary of state’s office. Domestic insurance agencies must register with our office prior to obtaining an insurance license from the Ohio department of insurance. Foreign insurance agencies must register with our office prior to operating in the State of Ohio. A sole proprietor operating an insurance agency under a fictitious (or assumed) name that is not or cannot be registered as a trade name must register the fictitious/assumed name with the Secretary of State.
The name of any cooperative formed under Chapter 1729 of the Ohio Revised Code must include the word or abbreviation: “cooperative,” “coop,” “co-operative,” “co-op,” “association,” “assn.,” “company,” “co.,” “incorporated,” “inc.,” “corporation,” or “corp.” In addition, no business entity shall use the word or abbreviation “cooperative,” “coop,” “co-operative,” or “co-op” as a part of its business name, unless (1) It is organized under chapter 1729; (2) it is organized and operating on a cooperative basis under Chapter 1702; (3) it is organized and operating in accordance with the cooperative laws of another state, the District of Columbia, or the United States; or (4) it is a state or federally chartered credit union.
Legal Professional Associations
Legal professional associations or legal clinics, forming a professional corporation under Chapter 1785 of the Ohio Revised Code must follow specific name guidelines set forth in Ohio Supreme Court Rule III. The name of a legal professional association or legal clinic must (1) end with "Co., Lpa" or (2) use the words "A Legal Professional Association" directly below the name.
More on Ohio Secretary of State business naming rules
Ohio Trade Names
You might choose to do business under a different name than your legal LLC name. In Ohio, doing business under a different name is known as a “Trade Name.” You might choose to use a different name from your Ohio formal LLC name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your LLC might be called Ohio Vacation Rentals Holding Company LLC, and you have a chain called “Riverside Rentals.” You should complete an Ohio Trade Name Registration Form to let the Ohio Secretary of State know. In Ohio, you do that through a Name Registration form, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf through our Assumed Business Name service.
Incfile’s Assumed Business Name service
Registering a Business Name in Ohio
Once you’ve searched for your Ohio business name, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need a trade name, you can register your OH LLC name. There are a couple of ways to do this:
If you don’t want to form your Ohio LLC right now, you can reserve the business name with the Ohio Secretary of State. You will need to complete a Name Reservation / Transfer / Cancellation Form and file it with the OH SOS. You do not need to reserve a name if you are forming your business right away.
If you’re ready to start your Ohio LLC, you can formally file your Articles of Organization with the Ohio SOS, or let Incfile take care of it for you. This will complete your business name registration, as well.
FAQs on Naming Your Ohio LLC
You might find the following answers useful.
How Do I Search for My Ohio LLC Business Name?
Just go to the business name search tool and enter your proposed business name. You can search the register of the Ohio Secretary of State, which will tell you if there are any OH corporations or LLCs with that name.
Are There Any Rules for Naming My Ohio LLC?
Yes. Most LLCs will be bound by general rules (applicable to all LLCs) and specific rules (applicable in the state of Ohio). We’ve detailed these rules above.
Can I Do Business Under a Different Name Than My LLC Name in Ohio?
Yes. Known as “assumed names,” “fictitious names,” “doing business as names” or “trade names,” you can choose to conduct business under a different name. Details are above.
Can I Reserve a Name for My Ohio LLC?
Yes. The Ohio Secretary of State allows you to reserve a name if you don’t want to start your business immediately. Details are above. If you are ready to start your business now, you do not need to reserve a name.
Useful Resources for Naming Your Ohio LLC
You might find these additional resources helpful.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Ohio LLC name does not infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to make sure your proposed business name does not infringe is to carry out a trademark search through Incfile. If it doesn’t infringe, you can even register it as a trademark yourself.
Incfile Trademark Search and Registration service
Find the Perfect Name for Your Ohio LLC
The perfect business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing the right business name, but basically, you'll want to choose a name that will:
- Appeal to your customers
- Be memorable enough to stand out
- Best represent your product or services
- Not be used by another business
Incfile guide to choosing a business name