How to Get Business Licenses in Ohio | A Comprehensive Guide

Steve Bennett
Business Formation Expert  |   Fact Checked by Editorial Team
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Ohio Business License

Starting a new business is an exciting venture, but it’s essential to understand the various licenses required to operate legally within Ohio. Forming an LLC in Ohio requires licenses, as different industries and locations have specific regulations. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to Ohio Business Licenses, helping you navigate the process and ensure your new venture complies with all necessary requirements. By understanding the permitting landscape in Ohio, you can ensure that your business is fully prepared to succeed while avoiding potential legal pitfalls.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you easily obtain a business license in Ohio. You must be guided by all the factors gathered in this article.

What is a Business License in Ohio?

A business license is a legal authorization, permit, or document that allows a business to operate within a specific jurisdiction, such as a city, county, or state. Ohio business licenses are issued by Ohio Secretary of State and ensure businesses comply with applicable laws, regulations, and standards in their respective industries.

A business license protects public health, safety, and welfare by ensuring businesses operate responsibly and lawfully. Acquiring a business license often involves registering the business, paying applicable fees, and meeting specific requirements or qualifications for the type of business.

Business licenses can vary greatly depending on the location and nature of the business. Some common types of business licenses include:

1. General Business License: This is a basic license required for most businesses to operate within a specific jurisdiction, such as a city or county.

2. Professional and Occupational Licenses: These licenses are specific to certain industries or professions, such as healthcare, construction, real estate, or cosmetology, and are typically issued by state licensing boards or agencies.

You must have a professional and occupational license to form Ohio General Partnership and offer your service. 

Here are some examples of Professional and Occupational Licenses:

  • Medical License: Physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals must obtain a medical license to practice medicine in a specific state. The Ohio medical board issues this license after verifying the applicant’s education, training, and examination results.
  • Realtor License: To become a realtor in Ohio, you must obtain a real estate license to buy, sell, or lease properties on behalf of clients. Ohio has its own real estate commission or board responsible for issuing licenses and regulating the industry.
  • Contractor License: General contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other construction professionals must often have a contractor license to work in Ohio. 
  • Cosmetology License: Professionals in the beauty industry, such as hairstylists, estheticians, and nail technicians, must obtain a cosmetology license to provide services. Ohio Boards of Cosmetology oversee licensing and regulations for this industry.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) License: Accountants who wish to become a CPA in Ohio must designate and provide specific services, such as auditing financial statements and obtaining a CPA license from Ohio’s Board of Accountancy.
  • Architect License: Architects must obtain a license to practice architecture in Ohio. This typically involves meeting education and experience requirements and passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).
  • Attorney License: Ohio Business Attorneys must obtain a license to practice law in a particular jurisdiction, typically by passing the state’s bar examination and meeting other requirements set by the Ohio bar association.

3. Health and Safety Permits: Ohio businesses involved in food service, hospitality, or other industries directly impacting public health and safety may require specific permits from local health departments or regulatory agencies.

4. Environmental Permits: Ohio businesses that involve activities that may impact the environment, such as waste disposal, air or water emissions, or hazardous materials handling, may require permits from local, state, or federal environmental agencies.

5. Sales Tax License: Ohio businesses that sell goods or services may be required to collect sales tax from customers and remit it to the appropriate tax authority. A sales tax license is typically required to collect and remit sales tax legally.

Ohio business owners must research the specific licensing requirements for their business in their jurisdiction and obtain all necessary licenses and permits to operate legally and avoid potential fines, penalties, or legal troubles.

Requirements For Getting Business Licenses in Ohio

If you start an LLC or any other type of business, you must wait until your Ohio business registration is complete. Once you have completed the necessary steps to register your business in Ohio, you must be prepared with the required documents to apply for business licenses.

  • Name of your company
  • Phone number and company address
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN)
  • Your company’s legal structure (Corporation, Partnership, or LLC)
  • Your business strategy, which includes revenues and costs

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How to Get a Business License in Ohio

To get a business license, you must follow the guidelines below, including determining if your Ohio business requires a license or permit, identifying the appropriate licensing agencies, researching license and permit requirements, completing and submitting license applications, and maintaining license and permit requirements.

Step 1: Determine The Required License or Permit

The first step in obtaining a business license is determining if your business needs one. Some businesses may not require a license or permit, while others may need multiple licenses depending on their industry and location. Some businesses typically require some form of licensing or permit:

  • Professional services, such as medical, legal, and accounting
  • Food establishments, including restaurants, bars, and catering businesses
  • Retail businesses, including stores, shops, and online retailers
  • Construction and contracting companies
  • Manufacturing and industrial businesses

State Licenses

The licenses that you must get first are the licenses within the state. Ohio state licenses require individuals or businesses to engage in certain activities or professions legally. The state government issues these licenses and serves as proof that the license holder has met certain qualifications and standards set by the state. The types of licenses vary depending on the profession or activity, including but not limited to healthcare professionals, contractors, real estate agents, and drivers.

State licenses assure the public that the license holder has undergone the necessary training and education to perform their duties safely and competently.

Federal Licenses

Federal licenses in Ohio are granted by federal agencies and are required for certain activities and industries that fall under federal jurisdiction. These licenses ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations and are necessary for individuals or businesses engaged in the following services.

  • Agriculture: License issued by The U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Aviation: License issued by The Federal Aviation Administration
  • Alcohol & Tobacco: License issued by The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  • Ammunition, Explosive, & Firearms: License issued by The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
  • Commercial Fisheries: License issued by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service
  • Mining & Drilling: License issued by The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
  • Nuclear Energy: License issued by The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Radio & Television (Broadcast): License issued by The Federal Communications Commission
  • Transportation by Sea: License issued by The Federal Maritime Commission
  • Wildlife & Fisheries: License issued by The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Obtaining a federal license in Ohio involves meeting specific criteria and adhering to federal laws and regulations, which can vary depending on the activity or industry.

City-Based License

City-based licenses in Ohio are granted by local municipalities and are required for certain activities or businesses operating within the city limits. These licenses ensure businesses comply with local regulations and ordinances and typically cover business operations, health and safety, zoning, and permits.

City-based licenses vary depending on the location and the nature of the business, but examples may include restaurant licenses, liquor licenses, taxi licenses, and street vendor licenses. Obtaining a city-based license in Ohio involves submitting an application, paying the necessary fees, and meeting specific requirements set by the local government.

Home-Based License

Home-based licenses in Ohio are required for individuals or businesses that operate from their residential property. These licenses regulate and permit activities conducted within a residential setting, such as home-based businesses or rental properties. Home-based licenses ensure these activities comply with local regulations, building codes, zoning requirements, and health and safety standards.

The specific requirements for obtaining a home-based license in Ohio can vary depending on the type of activity and the local municipality but typically involve submitting an application, paying any necessary fees, and meeting specific criteria set by the local government.

Professional License

Professional licenses in Ohio are mandatory for individuals pursuing specific careers or professions that require specialized knowledge, skills, and expertise. The state government grants these licenses and serves to regulate and ensure the competency and ethical practice of professionals in fields such as law, medicine, engineering, teaching, and accounting.

To obtain a professional license in Ohio, individuals must meet education, experience, and examination requirements specific to their profession. These licenses assure the public that they receive services from qualified professionals and protect consumers from potential harm or malpractice.

Step 2: Identify the Ohio Licensing Agencies

Once you’ve determined that your business requires a license or permit, you must identify the appropriate Ohio agencies responsible for issuing these documents. In Ohio, numerous agencies oversee licensing and permitting, including:

  • Ohio Secretary of State: This office is responsible for issuing licenses for many professional services, including legal, medical, and accounting.
  • Ohio Department of Health: Food establishments, healthcare providers, and other businesses related to health and safety may require licenses from this department.
  • Ohio Department of Taxation: If your business sells goods, you may need a sales tax license or permit from this department.
  • Ohio Department of Labor: Businesses that involve construction or contracting may need licenses from this department.
  • Local City or County Governments: Depending on your business’s location, you may also need to obtain licenses or permits from your local government.

Step 3: Research License and Permit Requirements

After identifying the appropriate agencies, research the specific requirements for each license or permit your business needs. This may involve reviewing the Ohio agency’s website, contacting their office directly, or consulting a legal or business professional. Some common requirements for obtaining a business license or permit include:

  • Completing an application form
  • Providing proof of insurance or bonding
  • Passing background checks or inspections
  • Paying application fees

Some licenses or permits may have ongoing requirements, such as annual renewals, inspections, or reporting.

Step 4: Complete and Submit License Applications

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information and documents, complete the application forms for each required license or permit. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions provided by each Ohio agency, as incomplete or incorrect applications can lead to delays or denials.

In addition to the application forms, you may also need to submit supporting documentation, such as:

Proof of Business Registration

You can find it on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. There should be a search feature specifically for businesses. This will often be labeled “Ohio Secretary of State Business Search“. In the search feature, enter the name of the business you are looking for, and once it appears, you will now have proof of your business registration.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Aside from opening a bank account, you must have an Employer Identification Number in Ohio to file and submit for a business license. An EIN, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your business for tax purposes. You’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account, file taxes, and hire employees. 

The application of an EIN in Ohio can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The online EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that the Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is four weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone-International Applicants – International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

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Proof of Insurance, Bonding, or Worker’s Compensation Coverage

To have a business license, you need proof of insurance, bonding, or worker’s compensation. You need to obtain a certificate or policy document as additional documents for your proof of insurance. Also, there is a database of businesses with worker’s compensation coverage or require businesses to register their insurance or bonding information. Visit your Ohio Department of Labor, Department of Insurance, or another relevant agency website for information about the business’s coverage.

Professional Certifications or Licenses

As I have mentioned, if you will form a general partnership and offer your service, you must have professional certifications or licenses. 

Submit your completed applications and the Ohio business license fee, which ranges from $50 – $300. The processing times for license and permit applications can vary, so plan accordingly and allow ample time for approval.

Step 5: Maintain License and Permit Compliance

Once you’ve obtained the necessary licenses and permits for your Ohio business, it’s essential to maintain compliance with all requirements. This may include:

  • Keep your Ohio licenses and permits current by renewing them on time, typically annually.
  • Reporting any changes to your business, such as a changing Ohio LLC address. You may amend your Ohio Articles of Organization if you change anything in your Ohio business.
  • Maintaining proper insurance, bonding, or worker’s compensation coverage.
  • Complying with any inspection, reporting, or record-keeping requirements.

Failing to maintain compliance with your Ohio business licenses and permits can result in fines, penalties, or even the loss of your license. Hiring the Best Statutory Agent Services in Ohio is better if you plan to start an LLC and maintain your licenses. They won’t just help you with the formation of your business but also the compliance. We reviewed some of the services for you to check out.

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Additional Considerations

In addition to the steps outlined above, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind when navigating the Ohio business licensing process:

  • Licenses and permits are often industry-specific, so research your business type’s requirements.
  • Some businesses may need licenses or permits from multiple agencies at the state and local levels. Be sure to research and comply with all necessary requirements to avoid complications.
  • If your business operates in multiple locations or across state lines, you may need to obtain licenses or permits for each jurisdiction in which you operate. You can form Ohio Foreign LLC
  • Stay informed about licensing and permitting requirements changes, as regulations can change over time.

FAQs

What is a business license?
A business license is a legal document that serves as proof of a company’s right to do business, register with the state, and pay taxes.
Who needs to obtain a business license in Ohio?
Anyone who operates a business in Ohio, whether it’s a corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, or partnership, must obtain a business license.
How do I know what type of business license I need?
The type of business license you need will depend on the type of business you are operating. You can contact the Ohio Secretary of State or your city government to find out which licenses are required.
How do I apply for a business license in Ohio?
You can apply for a business license in Ohio through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, or through your local city government.
What is the cost of a business license in Ohio?
The cost of a business license in Ohio varies depending on the type of license you need. Contact the Ohio Secretary of State or your city government for more information.
Do I need an Ohio state-specific license if I’m based in Ohio, but I sell products to other states?
No, you generally don’t need an Ohio state specific license if you’re based in Ohio but selling to customers in other states. However, you should check with other states to see what licenses they might require.
How long does it take to get a business license in Ohio?
It depends on the type of license you need. Some licenses require a waiting period or background check. Contact Ohio Secretary of State or your city government for more information.
What is the Ohio Small Business Development Center?
The Ohio Small Business Development Center (OSBDC) is a statewide resource helping entrepreneurs start, grow and sustain their businesses with services include one-on-one advising, workshops, and training.
Can I apply for a business license online in Ohio?
Yes, you can apply for most business licenses in Ohio online through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website or through your local city government.
What is a DBA, and do I need one in Ohio?
DBA stands for “doing business as.” If you are conducting business under a name that is different from your own, you may need to register your DBA with the Ohio Secretary of State or your local city government.
What is an LLC, and do I need one in Ohio?
An LLC is a limited liability company. It is a legal structure that provides limited liability protection to owners. As a business owner, you do not need to form an LLC, but you might want to consult a lawyer about your personal liability.
What is a business license tax?
It is a fee assessed by the government on the privilege of doing business in an area.
How do I determine which law applies to my business in Ohio?
Your business’s entity type, location and activities will determine which law applies to your business in Ohio. For more information, please contact your attorney or the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
Do I need a separate business bank account in Ohio?
Yes, it is highly recommended to have a separate business bank account to keep your business finances and personal finances separate for personal asset building
Do I need insurance to obtain a business license in Ohio?
Certain types of businesses may require specific types of insurance. Contact the Ohio Department of Insurance to find out more information.
Can I transfer my business license to another city/town in Ohio?
Yes, you can transfer your business license to another city or town in Ohio. You will need to contact the Ohio Secretary of State’s office or your local city government for information on how to transfer your license.
Is there a penalty for operating without a business license in Ohio?
Yes, you may be subject to fines or other penalties if you operate a business without a license in Ohio.
Do I need a business license to work from home in Ohio?
Yes, you still need to obtain a business license in Ohio if you are operating a business from home.
Is there any kind of tax incentive for small businesses in Ohio?
There may be tax incentives available for small businesses in Ohio. Contact the Ohio Department of Taxation to find out more information.
When should I renew my Ohio business license?
You should typically renew your Ohio business license every year around the time it was initially issued.
Do I need to register my business name in Ohio?
If you are doing business under a name that is different from your own or incorporating your Ohio business name, yes, you will need to register your business name in Ohio.
How do I register my business name in Ohio?
You can register your business name in Ohio by contacting the Ohio Secretary of State’s office or
Is an EIN the same as a business license in Ohio?
No, an EIN (Employer Identification Number) is not the same as a business license in Ohio. An EIN is issued by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax ID number for your business.
What is a trade license, and do I need one in Ohio?
A trade license is a license required for performing certain skilled trade activities, such as plumbing or electrical work, in Ohio. You will need to check with the Ohio Department of Commerce for information on whether you need a trade license to operate your business.
Can I use my business license to conduct business in different industries in Ohio?
It depends on the specific license you obtain. Some licenses may be specific to certain industries, while others may be more general.
Can I use my Ohio business license to operate in different states?
No, not necessarily. Other states may require specific licenses or certifications to operate within their borders.
How can I obtain a business license for Ohio if I’m currently in another state?
You can obtain an Ohio business license for your out-of-state business by contacting the Ohio Secretary of State’s office or a registered agent.
How do I cancel my Ohio business license if I no longer operate my business in Ohio?
You can cancel your Ohio business license by contacting the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
Can I lose my Ohio business license if I have problems with the law?
Yes, you may lose your Ohio business license if you have problems fulfilling legal requirements in the state. It is highly recommended to adhere by scheduled compliance policies.
Do I need a business license to operate in Ohio?
Yes, you need a business license to operate legally in Ohio.
What is the fee for a business license in Ohio?
The fee for a business license in Ohio varies depending on the type of license and the county where you are located.
How often do I need to renew my business license in Ohio?
You need to renew your business license in Ohio every year.
Is there a penalty for operating a business without a license in Ohio?
Yes, there is a penalty for operating a business without a license in Ohio, including fines and legal action.
What type of businesses require a license in Ohio?
Most types of businesses require a license in Ohio, including retail, food service, and professional services.
Can I use a business license from another state to operate in Ohio?
No, you need to obtain a business license specific to Ohio to operate legally in the state.
What information do I need to provide to apply for a business license in Ohio?
You need to provide your business name, address, ownership information, and tax identification number, among other things.
How long does it take to process a business license application in Ohio?
Processing times for business license applications can vary, but you should receive your license within a few weeks to a month.
Can I apply for a temporary business license in Ohio?
Yes, you can apply for a temporary business license in Ohio for specific events or time frames.
Do I need a separate county and city business license in Ohio?
It depends on where you operate your business. Contact your local city and county government offices to find out what local licenses you might need.
How can I check if my business license is still valid in Ohio?
You can check the status of your Ohio business license online or by contacting the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
Can I apply for a business license in Ohio if I have a criminal record?
Yes, you can apply for a business license in Ohio if you have a criminal record, but it may impact your application process.
How do I cancel my Ohio business license?
To cancel your Ohio business license, you need to contact the Ohio Secretary of State’s office and follow the appropriate procedures.
What taxes do I need to pay as a business in Ohio?
In addition to federal taxes, Ohio businesses need to pay state and local taxes, including the state sales tax.
Do I need a special license to sell alcohol in Ohio?
Yes, you need a special liquor license to sell alcohol in Ohio, which is issued by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.
Can I run a business out of my home in Ohio?
Yes, you can run a business out of your home in Ohio, but you need to ensure you follow local zoning laws and get any necessary permits.
Do I need a license to operate an online business in Ohio?
Yes, you need a business license to operate an online business in Ohio.
What happens if I change my business location in Ohio?
If you change your business location in Ohio, you need to update your business license with the correct address.
Do I need a separate tax ID number for my business in Ohio?
No, you can use your Social Security number as a tax ID number for your business in Ohio if you are a sole proprietor.
Do I need insurance for my business in Ohio?
Yes, you may need some types of insurance to operate your business in Ohio, depending on the nature of your business.
Do I need to apply for a new business license if I change my business name in Ohio?
Yes, if you change your business name in Ohio, you need to update your business license with the new name.
How can I get a copy of my Ohio business license?
You can get a copy of your Ohio business license by contacting the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
How long does my Ohio business license last?
Your Ohio business license lasts for one year from the date it is issued.
Can I operate my business while my Ohio license application is still pending?
No, you need to wait until you receive your Ohio business license before you can legally operate your business.
Do I need a state or federal license to hire employees in Ohio?
You need to apply for a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) to hire employees in Ohio, but you do not need a separate state license for this purpose.
Are there any exceptions to needing a business license in Ohio?
Generally, no, all businesses in Ohio need a valid business license to operate legally.
How can I check the legitimacy of a Ohio business license?
You can check the legitimacy of an Ohio business license by contacting the Ohio Secretary of State’s office or using their online verification system.

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Conclusion

Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits is crucial in starting a new business in Ohio. Following the steps outlined in this guide and consulting with the appropriate agencies or professionals, you can ensure that your business complies with all state and local requirements. This will protect your business from legal issues and help establish your reputation as a responsible and trustworthy business operator.

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