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Ohio Business License

Now that you have registered or are planning to register your business in the state of Ohio, what other documents might be required for the business to become operational? It is mandatory for each business in the state to register with the Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as well as with the Ohio Department of Taxation. Apart from this, you will require a business license or permit to operate within the state.

It is important to know that there are certain licenses issued by the state of Ohio while for certain types of services, an Ohio company license may be issued by the city or county. Depending on the type of business, you may even require more than one license.

Ohio Business License Requirements

How do you obtain a business license in Ohio? What type of documentation is required? Who issues the license? These are some of the important questions that you might be confronted with. Hence, we have created a small guide to provide an insight into how to get a license or permit in the state. It is also important to note that you may require one or more licenses or permits depending on the type of business.

The following steps will guide you towards acquiring an Ohio company license.

Step#1: The Industry or Business Type

The type of industry or the activities of a business entity is an integral factor towards determining whether your business license will be issued by the state departments or the city or county.

In order to understand this, let us take a look at some examples:

  • Public Accounting Firm – There are two types of public accounting firms and they are attest and non-attest (tax or consulting). Either type of public accounting firms require a business license in the state.
    Managed by: Accountancy Board of Ohio
  • Gaming-Related Vendor – According to Ohio law (ORC 3772.01 (L) & OAC 3772-6), if your business is that of a “Gaming-Related Vendor” then you will need to apply for an Ohio company license. The license can only be applied for after suitability investigations carried out by the Division of Licensing and Investigations is approved.
    Managed by: Ohio Casino Control Commission
  • Adult Education – A company or agency that is responsible for imparting adult education or offer Adult Education programs also known as Adult Basic Literacy Education or ABLE program. Such a business entity will require a permit.
    Managed by: Ohio Department of Education
  • Child care centers, Family care homes – If you are planning to start a child care or day care center then the business license will be issued by the respective state department.
    Managed by: Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

Note: The fee for license or permit varies according to the type of business or industry.

Step#2: Licenses issued by City/County

If your business or industry type doesn’t fall under a statewide license project then you will have to check with the local city or county office. An Ohio company license can also be issued by local counties or cities in which the business is located. Let’s look at an example to understand how this works.

Place: Summit County, Ohio

If you are planning to establish a “Food Service Operation” or start a “Retail Food Establishment” in Summit County then you will have to apply to the Summit County Public Health (SCPH) for a business license. There are two types of retail food establishment that are issued licenses by county office and they are:

  • Food Service Operation (FSO): This type of business includes restaurants, caterers, fast food operations, etc.
  • Retail Food Establishment (RFE): This type of business includes grocery stores, carry outs, gas stations, pizza shops, micro-markets, etc.

The other types of businesses in the food establishment or service industry that will require a business license in Summit County include:

  • Mobile Food Service Operation
  • Temporary Food Operation
  • Food Vending Machine


There is an initial plan review fee of $375.00 . This has to be paid to Summit County Combined General Health District.

Plan Review and Application

Step#3: Issuance of a Business License

How is a business license in Ohio issued? You have to identify the following to complete the process:

  1. The type of business or industry
  2. Do you need a license or a permit?
  3. Do you need a single license or multiple licenses?
    For example: A retail food establishment that sells alcoholic beverages will require a license for food establishment and permit for alcoholic beverages. The latter would be issued by the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Liquor Control.
  4. Will it be issued by the state or the city?

Once you have identified the above, all you need to do is either download the application online or contact the concerned state department or city clerk or county office. The validity of a business license is normally one year from the date of issue although different cities and counties have different dates.

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