The State of Ohio requires any business entity, including sole proprietorships and simple partnerships, that conducts business under a name different than the business owner's own personal name, to register a trade name or fictitious name with the Ohio Secretary of State. While Ohio does not use the term DBA (doing business as), a trade or fictitious name performs the same basic function of recognizing that you are doing business under a name other than your given name.
Here's how to register your trade name in Ohio:
Step 1: Place a request to register the trade name.
You can do this in person at the Ohio Secretary of State's office or by mail at the Secretary of State Business Services Division at 180 E. Broad St., 16th Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215 or by email. The Secretary of State will verify the trade name you want to use is not overly similar to another registered business.
Step 2: Obtain permission to use the name, if necessary.
If the Secretary of State determines that your proposed trade name meets the state's general guidelines (i.e., contains nothing vulgar or deemed a slur) and is not distinguishable from another registered business, you must obtain permission to use the name from the other similarly named business or choose a different name and try again. You may obtain the "Consent for Use of Similar Name" form from the Secretary of State.
Step 3: Fill out Form 534A.
You can download Form 534A on the Secretary of State's website. You can fill this out and file it electronically or send it through the mail to the Secretary of State Business Services Division. Most of the form is fairly straightforward (i.e., your given name, address, the nature of your business). On the form, you will have the choice of choosing a trade name or a fictitious name. Choosing a trade name ensures that other businesses will not be able to register a name that is overly similar to yours without your permission. Choosing a fictitious name waives that protection. A $50 filing fee is due with the application. This can be paid with a credit card if you file electronically or with cash, check or money order if sending the registration through the mail or in person.
Simply having your personal name as part of a business name is not the same as using your personal name to conduct business. For example, if John Doe is doing business in Ohio as John Doe's Landscaping, he must register that as a trade name. John Doe could, however, conduct his landscaping business simply as John Doe without needing to register.