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Ohio DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

Ohio DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

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Ohio DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

If you’re planning to start a business in Ohio under a name other than your own, you will need to register for a business name. Business name registration is commonly referred to as an Ohio DBA or “Doing Business As,” but in Ohio, you can register for a Trade Name or Fictitious Name.

To see if you need to register for an Ohio business name and the steps on how to register, check out our guide.

Related: How to start a business in Ohio

What is a DBA?

A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As,” is commonly referred to as a Trade Name and Fictitious Name in Ohio or an Assumed Name of Fictitious Business Name in other states.  What is somewhat confusing in Ohio is that a business can register either a Trade Name or a Fictitious Name.

A Trade Name must be distinguishable from the other names registered with the Ohio Secretary of State. If the name you want is available, you can register it, and no other business in the state can register it.

Somewhat counterintuitive, before a Trade Name can be registered, it will have to be used prior to the date of filing.  Ways to use the name include opening a bank account with the trade name, using the trade name on products, any advertisements using the Trade Name, or using the name on business cards or letterhead.

A Fictitious Name is a name registered with the Secretary of State but does not have to be unique. It provides much less protection because other registered names are not required to be distinguishable. For example, if “Bob’s Landscaping” is registered as a Fictitious Name, an LLC would be able to register “Bob’s Landscaping, LLC” because the names are not required to be distinguishable.

What is a DBA name good for?

A DBA is required for Ohio businesses that want to operate under a name other than the legal name of the owners or entity. The DBA registration provides information on the people operating a business, so if there is an issue, the owners can be tracked down.  

In addition to the legal requirement, a DBA offers other benefits such as proving the existence of a business, opening a business bank account, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.

Who needs to register for an Ohio DBA?

The requirements and need to register will vary depending on the type of business structure.

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA.

The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the small business owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering.  For example, if Mark Smith starts a business fixing lawnmowers but doesn’t use a business name, he doesn’t have to register.  However, if Mark decides to name his business Mark’s Mower Repair, he will need to register for either a trade name or a fictitious name.

Related: How to start a sole proprietorship in Ohio

Corporations and Limited Liability Companies won’t typically register a Trade or Fictitious Name since a unique entity name is created during the entity formation process. However, some will want to register for a DBA if they have another business or brand name they want to operate in addition to the legal name of the business. This can allow multiple businesses to operate with the liability protection of an Ohio corporation or Limited Liability Company without having to form another entity. 

Steps to Register an Ohio DBA

Step 1: Verify Name Availability

Sole proprietors may conduct business under their own name, a trade name, or a fictitious name.

Trade names give the owner the exclusive right to use that name and are protected from use by others.1

If a person plans to conduct business under a name other than their own and does not plan to register a trade name, or if the preferred name is unavailable for registration, they must notify the Secretary of State of their plan to use the business name by filing a fictitious name form.2

Since the cost is the same to register the trade and fictitious name, if the name you want to use is available, register the Trade Name for the most protection. You can search the Ohio Secretary of State’s website to determine whether the name you wish to use is available.

Related: How to do a business name search in Ohio.

Step 2: Fill out the Form

Form 534A: Name Registration is available to download from the Ohio Secretary of State. The information needed on the name registration form includes:

  • Name of the individual or business (if registered as a corporation or LLC)
  • Business address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Type of registration
  • Name being registered
  • Registrant’s Entity Number (number provided by the Secretary of State to corporations and LLCs)
  • General nature of what the business does

Step 3: Submit the Name Registration Form

File the form along with payment to the Secretary of State.  If filing by mail, send to:
Ohio Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

If you have questions about the process, you can contact the Ohio Secretary of State at 877-767-3453 or busserv@OhioSecretaryofstate.gov.

If you would prefer to have a someone else research DBA name availability and file the required forms, Bizee and LegalZoom offer a DBA registration service for $99, plus state fees.


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

The cost to register an Ohio Trade Name or Fictitious Name is $39.  Normal filing typically takes 3-7 days. 

If a faster turnaround is needed, expedited service is available.
– 2-day processing is an additional $100 filing fee
– 1-day processing is an additional $200 filing fee
– 4-hour processing is an additional $300 filing fee

The DBA registration will need to be renewed every five years.

How long does it take to get a DBA in Ohio?

It normally takes 3-7 business days for the Ohio Secretary of State to process DBA filings.

Are there any naming restrictions when filing an Ohio DBA?

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banks, trusts, insurance agencies, cooperatives, or legal professional associations unless the business is licensed to operate as such.

A Trade Name or Fictitious Name can’t use a business entity suffix that is different from the type of entity. For example, a sole proprietorship can’t use LLC or corporation in its name.

Additionally, the use of profanity or words or phrases that are generally considered a slur against an ethnic group, religion, gender, or heredity is prohibited as well.

Does a DBA need an EIN?

An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique nine-digit number that some businesses will register for through the Internal Revenue Department (IRS). An EIN is required for partnerships, corporations, multi-member LLCs, or any business that has employees.

Sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs without employees can use the owner’s social security number to identify the business.

Related: How to register for an EIN in Ohio

What is the difference between a Ohio Trade Name and a business license?

These are actually two different business registrations. In addition to the Ohio Trade Name registration, most businesses will also need a business license. The licenses a business will need vary depending on what the business does and local registration requirements.

Related: What business licenses are needed in Ohio?


  1. Ohio Revised Code Section 1329.01(B) ↩︎
  2. Ohio Revised Code section 1329.01(D) ↩︎


  • Greg Bouhl

    With over two decades as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, Greg Bouhl has worked with over 2,000 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Fed up with clients finding and acting on inaccurate and outdated information online, Greg launched StartUp101.com to be a trusted resource for people starting a business.

Ohio DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

Ohio DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

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