Step 1. Name and form your business
If you haven’t already started a business, your first step before applying for a business license in Ohio should be to do so. For help starting your business, check out one of our Forbes Advisor guides on starting a business, setting up an LLC and, for those who want help setting up a business structure. commonly used company, Best LLC Services. Once you’ve officially launched your business, get your paperwork sorted and make sure you have:
- A trade name
- An EIN (Employer Identification Number) or SSN (if you are a sole proprietor)
- A type of business entity (LLC, partnership, corporation, etc.)
- A business address and telephone number
- A business plan that includes expected income and expenses
- A COI (Certificate of Insurance) for your commercial insurance policy, if applicable
Step 2. Apply for your Ohio Provider License, if required
If your business sells or leases taxable goods or services, you will need to collect sales tax. To do this, you must obtain an Ohio vendor license. Ohio makes it easy with the Ohio Business Gateway, a one-stop webpage for all state-level business registrations, licenses, and permits your business may need.
Step 3. Determine which local licenses may be applicable
Next, you’ll want to see which local licenses may apply to your business. Most major cities in Ohio only require licenses for certain occupations and professions, while some smaller towns and villages require licenses for all businesses. Visit your local municipality’s websites to learn more and apply for applicable licenses. You can find these websites by going to the Ohio Municipal League List of Cities and Towns or the County Directory.
Step 4. Apply for any additional statewide licenses you need
It’s important to check if you need state-regulated licenses. These licenses are primarily for certain professions and occupations in industries such as health and wellness, catering, alcoholic beverages, entertainment, construction and finance, but do a quick search for your business activity even if it does not belong to these categories. For a complete list of business and professional licenses and to apply, go to the Licensing and Permits page on the State of Ohio website.
Step 5. Apply for federal licenses and tax treatment (if needed)
The majority of small businesses will not need to obtain federal licenses or permits, but if your business is engaged in federally regulated activities, you may need a federal license. Common areas of federal business licenses include:
- Sale, service, distribution or importation of alcohol
- Air, sea or land transport
- Firearms, ammunition and explosives
- Fish and wildlife, including commercial fisheries
- Mining and drilling
- Nuclear energy
- Broadcasting and television broadcasting
If you work in one of these industries, contact the appropriate federal agency to see what, if any, required licenses or permits you will need.