DBA in Ohio

Ohioans who want to set up businesses use legal names depending on their business structure. For example, sole proprietors and owners of general partnerships use their real names as their businesses’ legal names. Those who form LLCs and corporations, on the other hand, use proper company names.

If you’re an entrepreneur in Ohio and want to use another name that’s different from the one you used when you registered, you should get a DBA. In this article, we’ll talk about what DBAs are and how you can get them for your business.


What is DBA?


What are the advantages of a DBA?


What are the disadvantages of a DBA?

DBA Formation

What are the steps to starting a DBA?


What is the cost of forming a DBA?


Should you choose DBA after all?


What Is a DBA?

A DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” are aliases used in the place of a business’s legal name. Ohio commonly refers to DBAs as trade names. 

A DBA does not replace a business’s actual legal name. For example, a Nelsonville, OH-based business uses the name “Adventure Pro Outdoors” for its website and promotional materials. This company, however, actually belongs to the entity legally named “Adventure Pro Outdoors LLC.” They opted for a DBA since they do not want the term “LLC” in any of their promotional materials.

While the state of Ohio does not require you to have your own DBA, you will need to get one if you want to operate your business using another name. These fictitious names are primarily used for branding purposes.


What Are The Advantages Of A DBA In Ohio?

Getting a DBA gives you so much more than just an alternative name for your business. Here’s a quick look at how your business in Ohio can benefit from doing business:

You can establish your brand easier

DBAs let you choose the name you want for your business, effectively helping you establish your brand. This is especially obviously benefiting sole proprietorships because these businesses use their owners’ real names. Still, this benefit applies to whatever business structure you might have.

If you purchase a franchise, for example, you’ll need a DBA. Consider a huge bread business in Ohio, Klosterman Baking Company LLC. When they set up their branches, they applied for DBAs specific to the counties where the stores are located. Its branch in Columbus, for example, has the name “Klosterman Baking Company Fresh Distribution And Bakery Outlet- Columbus.”

It adds a layer of privacy to your business

Trade names can be used to hide your personal information from the public if you are a sole proprietor. Instead of putting your real name on promotional material such as posters and flyers, you can put the DBA on them. 

For example, a doctor of medicine who goes by the name Ryan Bauman wants to set up a personal clinic but doesn’t want to have his name placed on the signage. He can register his clinic with the local County Clerk, then apply for a DBA of his choice. The DBA will be placed on the signage instead of his real name.

It’s easier to diversify

Businesses can use DBAs if they plan to diversify and expand their offerings. This applies to all business structures but can be seen more readily in bigger companies. Consider Macy’s Inc., a well-known retailer based in Cincinnati.

Macy’s Inc. has more than 600 stores, each carrying the name Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. It also has almost 200 specialty stores, including Macy’s Backstage, Bluemercury, Bloomingdale’s The Outlet, and STORY. Each specialty store has its distinct identity separate from Macy’s Inc.

Banking made simpler

While Ohio does not require businesses to have DBAs, banks encourage it. DBAs are used to separate your personal bank account from those of your business. It also helps prevent mishandling that could happen if all your finances are lumped into one bank account.


What Are The Disadvantages Of A DBA In Ohio?

While using trade names gives your business some advantages, they do not have downsides that could put you at a disadvantage. However, they do have some limitations.

For one, DBAs do not protect your personal assets from lawsuits. If your business is an LLC or a corporation, you do not have to worry about that. But if your business is a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you will need to get insured to protect your personal assets if you get sued for valid reasons, such as negligence.

Also, the state of Ohio prohibits the use of certain words when naming your business. To be more specific, the trade name you use must not have the following:

  • Profanities, racial slurs, and words attacking ethnic and religious groups
  • Words normally used for financial institutions such as “bank,” “banking,” “trust,” and so on. You must have prior approval from the superintendent of financial institutions to use these.
  • Words or abbreviations are used to indicate that your business is incorporated. These include “LLC,” “Corporation,” “Inc.,” “Corp.” and so on. You may use these, however, if your business actually uses these structures.
  • Words or phrases usually used for government agencies, such as “Department of Justice,” “I.R.S.,” “FBI,” “Treasury,” and so on.

DBA Formation

How To Get A DBA In Ohio

By now, you must be excited to get your Ohio DBA. Fortunately, the process is easy, and the costs are low. Here’s what you need to do to get your business trade name:

Search for your name’s availability

First, verify with your Secretary of State if the trade name you wish to register is still available for use. Prepare some unique names and visit the Ohio Secretary of State’s Business Name Search website to check. Make sure to avoid using the aforementioned terms and words for your DBA.

File with your Secretary of State

If your preferred trade name is available, you must file a DBA for it as soon as you can. You can file for your DBA online via the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. Alternatively, you can also file by mail. Fill out the Name Registration form and include details about your preferred DBA, the business you will use it for, and the contact details of all business owners involved in your venture.


How Much Is A DBA In Ohio?

Ohio charges $39 for each DBA you file with the Secretary of State. It also offers expedited processing services for a fee:

  • $100 for 2-day processing
  • $200 for 1-day processing
  • $300 for 4-hour processing

Once registered, your new DBA will last for five years. Renewal costs $25 per DBA.


Getting a DBA for your business in Ohio gives you certain perks. You can use it to establish your brand, make good customer impressions, and make it easy for people to remember your business. While it doesn’t protect your assets from lawsuits, it helps keep your personal information private from the public. It’s a beneficial tool for your business.

Ohio makes it easy for businesses to get DBAs. The registration process is easy, and the filing fee is affordable. Plus, you can pay more to expedite your DBA registration so you can use it as soon as possible. Your new DBA lasts for five years, and renewing it won’t be a problem. Get a DBA for your business today.


Frequently Asked Questions About A DBA

Here are the most commonly asked questions about forming a DBA:

Yes. There are no limits to the number of DBAs you can have. As long as each one is unique and does not contain words the state prohibits, and as long as you can pay for their upkeep, you can keep using them.

Ohio normally takes 3-7 business days to process trade name registrations. If you pay to expedite the process, however, you can get your new DBA in as fast as four hours. You can pay more if you’re in a hurry to use your DBAs or simply wait it out.

No. DBAs do not provide any protection for your assets. They give you more privacy, however. If you’re running a sole proprietorship, consider getting insured to protect your personal property and belongings.

No. Your new DBA is not a separate entity and, therefore, cannot be taxed. If you form another business entity, instead of just applying for a DBA, you will need to pay taxes for it.

Yes. You can make changes to your registered DBA either by mail or online. If by mail, fill out the Change of Registrant Name form and submit it to your Secretary of State. If online, visit the Secretary of State’s website to make changes. Ohio does not charge fees for changes made to DBAs.

Yes, but with a fee. If you wish to cancel or withdraw your DBA, you will need to fill out the Name Reservation/Transfer/Cancellation form and submit it to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. Alternatively, you can just visit the Secretary of State’s website to cancel your DBA. Canceling your DBA costs $25 each.