How to Search Available LLC Names in Ohio
1. Check Ohio LLC Naming Guidelines
Before you do a name availability search, it makes sense to check if your business name meets the basic state guidelines.
Some key guidelines for Ohio LLC names include:
- Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of the following: LLC, L.L.C., limited, ltd., or ltd.
- Your name must be distinguishable from any existing business in the state. This includes Ohio reserved names.
Keep an eye out for restricted words. These words, such as “FBI” or “Treasury,” are often restricted to keep your LLC from sounding like an official institution.
Ohio also has the following restrictions for LLC names:
- Your name cannot contain profanity or words or phrases that are generally considered a slur against an ethnic group, religion, gender, or heredity.
- Your name cannot incorrectly or improperly imply that the business is affiliated with a government agency.
- Your name cannot include any of the following words without prior approval from the superintendent of financial institutions: bank, banker, banking, trust, or words of similar meaning in any other language.
- Your name cannot include the following unless the LLC is registered as a cooperative: cooperative, coop, co-operative, or co-op.
For more information, check out Ohio's official state statutes.
2. Complete an LLC Business Name Search
Once you know your LLC name meets Ohio guidelines, it’s time to make sure it’s available by searching the Ohio Business Search tool.
It is important that your name be distinguishable from all other business names. In Ohio, a distinguishable name is one that is substantively different from all existing or reserved business names in the state.
The following differences will make a name distinguishable in Ohio:
- The use of numbers in a name, including using numerals versus spelled out numbers
- Addition of letters
- Different order of words
- Spelling variations
- Different forms of base words
The following differences will NOT make a name distinguishable in Ohio:
- Use of punctuation, contractions, or abbreviations
- Use of articles
- Business entity type designators
- Different tenses or singular/plural forms of the same word
Failure to use a distinguishable name could result in your formation filing being rejected.
What if my LLC name is already taken? If your LLC name is unavailable in Ohio, it’s time to come up with some new ideas.
How to Reserve or Register Your Business Name
Reserve Your Name
You can optionally reserve your LLC name in Ohio for up to 180 days before you officially register it. This prevents other businesses from registering your name until you have the opportunity to register it yourself.
Register Your Name
If you want to register a legal entity name for your LLC, you can do so at the time of formation filing. Ohio provides a section for your desired LLC name on the Articles of Organization.
Registering a DBA (doing business as) name, called a trade name in Ohio, is a separate process that requires filing with the Secretary of State.
Ohio LLC Name Search FAQ
How do I check if an LLC name is taken in Ohio?
You can use the Ohio Business Search tool to see if your preferred business name is available.
Should I name my LLC after myself?
While there’s no rule against naming an LLC after yourself, most experts advise against doing this.
One of the benefits of starting an LLC is the ability to choose a different name for your business, which can make it sound more professional.
What words can’t be used in an Ohio LLC name?
Business names generally can’t include words that imply the company is a banking or financial institution or that it’s affiliated with a local, state, or federal government agency.
Ohio prohibits the use of profanity and the following words: bank, banker, banking, trust, or words of similar meaning in any other language.
Should I use an LLC name generator?
If you’re having trouble choosing a name for your LLC, an LLC name generator can help you come up with some ideas.
What is a brand name?
A brand name is a name a company gives to a product or line of products. It can be the same as the company’s name or something different.
Do I have to include LLC in my name?
Yes. Ohio requires that its LLCs use “Limited Liability Company” or one of its abbreviations (e.g., LLC or L.L.C.) in their legal name.
Do I need to renew my business name in Ohio?
Ohio does not require LLCs to renew their legal name, but trade names must be renewed every five years.
Can my business name be different from my LLC name in Ohio?
Some companies choose to operate under a name that’s different from their legal name. This can either be called a “doing business as” (DBA) name or trade name in Ohio.
In Ohio, trade names are filed with the Secretary of State.
Does my LLC need a DBA name?
Your LLC doesn’t need a DBA name unless it plans to do business under a name other than its legal name. Learn more about Ohio DBAs by reading our guide to filing for a DBA and selecting Ohio from the dropdown menu.