Ohio Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

Last updated: June 19th, 2024
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If you’re thinking of starting a new business in the state of Ohio, then the first thing you should do is perform an Ohio business name search on the Secretary of State’s website. This will help determine whether or not the name is in use or available for registration.

The business search page on the Secretary of State’s website contains a handy search tool allowing you to refine your search by choosing different criteria.

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to conduct a business name search in Ohio.

Ohio search tips

To get the best results when searching for the relevant business entity, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Do not include punctuation in any of the business names you’re searching to get the most accurate results.
  • When it comes to getting broader search results, you can use wildcards which are the underscore and percent signs.
  • The underscore sign will match a single unknown character.
  • The percentage symbol should be used when you don’t know the exact business entity name.

You may also use the following words to narrow down your search:

  • Not – this should be used when you want your results to include the first word you entered in the search tool and not the one immediately following the first word.
  • Or – you should use this when you want the search results to contain at least one of the keywords you’ve entered.
  • And – this should be used when you want the results to contain all the keywords you’ve entered.

Business search by name

The most common way of searching for Ohio businesses is by using their current names. Visit the Business Search page on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website.

1
Enter the business name

Enter the organization name into the search bar and choose whether you’re looking for all business entities, or only for active, canceled, or dead ones.

Click Search.

2
Review the results

If no matching records are found, then you’ll see the following message, “No data available in table.”

Alternatively, if there are matching results, then you’ll see a table that lists the business entities along with the entity type, entity number, status, county, location, filing, and expiration date.

3
Review detailed business information

To access more in-depth business information, simply click on the button that says “show details.” The results that will display include the registrant or registered agent information along with the business’s filing history.

Additional search options

The process for selecting the other five business name search options is exactly the same as the “business search by name” option.

For example, you’ll enter the exact business name or prior business name, entity number organizer, or incorporator, and if there are no results, you will be notified. Alternatively, if there are results, they will be displayed in the table, and you have the option of clicking the “Show Details” button to access further information regarding the business entity.

Business search results

As mentioned earlier, after conducting the business entity search on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, you’ll be able to access the entity type, entity number, status, county, location, filing date, and expiration date.

By clicking on the “Show Details” button, you may access the registrant or agent name and other details in addition to the business’s filing history.

Copies of documents and certificates

After conducting the name search on the Ohio business names database, you may want to request copies of the business entity’s documents. Some of the corporate filings that you may want to request are:

  • Dissolution and withdrawals
  • A fictitious name or DBA registration
  • Annual reports and annual filings
  • Mergers
  • Certificate of status or authority
  • Articles of amendment
  • Articles of formation

The Secretary of State – Business Services Division is the only state department that may issue these business documents, and you can request copies of these certificates by using the following information:

Ohio Secretary of State

Physical address:
180 E. Broad St., 16th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215

Phone: 614-466-2655 or 877-767-6446

Business name availability

In the event that no records are found for your search criteria, it could mean that the business name is indeed available for registration. Ultimately though, it’s up to the state to determine whether or not the name will be approved and accepted for business registration.

The Ohio Secretary of State approves business names and also keeps a registry of all businesses in the state. Additionally, state law requires that all new business names be “distinguishable upon the records in the office of the Secretary of State.”

Therefore, your new business name cannot be too similar to other names registered previously in the state. In other words, they cannot come into conflict with prior registered business names.

Additionally, your name needs to be significantly different from all types of business structures, including Ohio corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships.

You may also choose to reserve an organization name in the State of Ohio by completing the court asleep Name Reservation Form and submitting it to the Secretary of State. A filing fee of $25 is applicable when completing online filings, and you need to pay $39 if submitting the name reservation request via mail.

Furthermore, certain names are subject to further restrictions and requirements. When it comes to Ohio business name availability standards, refer to the following state guide.

Domain name availability

While it is important to decide on a good business name that will establish your brand and company’s identity, it’s equally important to invest in a domain name that does the same. Domain names are essential for effective marketing and business success.

In most cases, you won’t find a domain name that is exactly the same as the business name; however, if you do, then you are in luck.

One of the best ways to check whether a domain name is available is to use a professional service like namechk.com. This domain name checking service allows you to filter domain names and will also give you suggestions for relevant domain names for your business.

Fictitious business name search

It’s also a good idea to register a fictitious business name in Ohio. This is especially if you plan on conducting business under a different name from your entity name. Trade names are also referred to as fictitious, assumed, or DBAs, which is an abbreviation for “doing business as” names.

The process starts with checking whether or not the trade name is available for use. You can visit the Ohio Secretary of State’s business name search website to find out if the name is available.

Additionally, when considering a trade name, ensure that they do not include any profanity, business entity suffix, or words that imply that the business is affiliated with a financial institution or government agency.

Suppose you’ve adhered to the above-mentioned guidelines. In that case, you can go ahead and register your Ohio DBA on the Secretary of State’s website by completing the Ohio Trade Name Registration Form.

Some of the information you need to include in the form is the business structure of the applicant, the business owner’s name and address, and the general nature of the business.

Once you’ve completed the Name Registration Form, go ahead and submit it online or mail it to the following address:

Mailing address:
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

The filing fee for registering a DBA in the state of Ohio is $39.

FAQs

How do I find out if a business is registered in Ohio?

You can find out if a business is registered in Ohio by conducting a business name search on the Secretary of State’s website. If the business is registered in the state, the search results will be found on the state’s business registry, and if the entity is not registered, then the results display no records.

What is the entity number for a business in Ohio?

The entity number of an Ohio based-business is basically a unique code assigned by the Secretary of State to all businesses in Ohio. You may refer to it as a license number for foreign corporations, and it’s also referred to as a charter number for domestic corporations.

What is the process to form a new business in Ohio?

Starting a business in Ohio includes several steps starting with registering the business with the Ohio Secretary of State, obtaining a Federal Employer Identification Number, opening up a corporate bank account, registering with the Department of Taxation, obtaining relevant business licenses, etc.

What is the difference between a sole proprietor and an LLC?

A sole proprietorship is considered a business that is unincorporated and is owned and operated by a single person or individual. An LLC, on the other hand, is separate from its owners, who are known as members. Additionally, none of the members are responsible for the business’s liabilities or debts. The LLC takes liability squarely on its shoulders.

How do I register a business in Ohio?

In order to register a business in Ohio, you’ll need to file the relevant formation documents with the state. This includes Articles of Incorporation, initial reports, and so on.

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