Ohio State University Fact Sheet
700 Ackerman Road, Suite 235, Columbus, OH 43202-1578
Licenses, Permits and Zoning
Small Business Series
Cheryle Jones Syracuse
There are a number of licenses and permits required of people with
businesses. Certain zoning laws also apply. This fact sheet provides
information to help business owners meet these legal requirements.
One-Stop Business Permit Center
A valuable service available to potential business owners in Ohio is
the Ohio One-Stop Business Permit Center. A call to 1-800-248-4040 or
(614) 466-4232 will provide information about Ohio permits and
regulations pertaining to your business. The more explicit you can be
about the type of business you are considering, the more complete the
information provided will be. At the minimum, be prepared to explain
the type of business, proposed business structure (sole proprietor,
partnership, etc.) and if you intend to hire employees.
Check with your city or county health department to determine if your
business requires a special health permit or inspection. Health
departments are concerned with conditions that may affect health,
sanitation, safety and food. Regulations vary from county to county.
Pies, cakes and other bakery items must be licensed with the Ohio
Department of Agriculture. For a home bakery license, call ODA,
Division of Foods, Dairy and Drugs at (614) 866- 6361. They will
arrange for a health and sanitation inspection. If other state health
permits are required, your local health department can direct you to
appropriate state departments.
Before you start a business in your home, check local zoning laws to
determine if your neighborhood permits a business in the home. Zoning
laws prevent nuisances from business in residential communities.
Contact your township or municipality zoning inspector to learn about
A building permit is needed if you are making significant renovations
or additions to your home to accommodate your business, or if you are
changing the commercial use of a building. In general, a building
permit is required so your building will be certified as safe for the
operation of your business and the safety of your customers. Some
businesses, such as child care, have specific building requirements.
You may want to check these requirements before making any changes to
your structure. You will need to clear all zoning restrictions before
a building permit is issued.
Contact your local city or county
building department to see if you need a building permit. If you do
not have a local building inspector, check with the Ohio Industrial
Relations, Division of Factory and Building, 2323 West 5th Avenue,
P.O. 825, Columbus, OH 43216, Phone: (614) 644-2622.
A vendor's license is required of all businesses making retail sales
of tangible property and certain rentals and repairs. The license
permits and requires the collection of sales tax from customers and
forwarding of the collected sales taxes to the state treasurer's
office either monthly or every six months. Failure to file the proper
forms even if no sales were made will result in a $50.00 fine.
vendor's license may be obtained from the auditor's office in the
county in which the business is located. The current application fee
is $25.00, with an annual renewal fee of $10.00. A temporary license
is available for $5.00 and is valid for 20 days. It can be purchased
from the auditor in the county where sales will be made. This license
is designed for short-term trade shows, fairs, etc., conducted away
from your home county. Businesses that travel extensively throughout
Ohio may purchase a statewide vendor's license from the Ohio
Department of Taxation for $100.00, with an annual renewal fee of
Not every business needs a vendor's license. If your business
is strictly wholesale or deals entirely in non-taxable items, there
is no need to purchase a license. A common misconception is that it
is necessary to have a vendor's license in order to purchase goods
wholesale or to purchase items for your business without paying sales
tax. A Blanket Certificate of Exemption-available from most office
supply stores-given to the suppliers allows them to sell to you
without charging sales tax. Likewise, you must have a Certificate of
Exemption from any business you do not collect sales tax from. More
specific information is available from your county auditor's office.
Registration of Business Name
Any Ohio business may register its business name with the Secretary of
State. There are three categories of names: 1) trade, 2) fictitious;
A trade name is a "name used in business or trade to designate the
business of the user and to which the user asserts a right to
exclusive use." Ohio law permits any firm in the state to register
with the Secretary of State the trade name under which it operates.
trade name registration fee is $20.00. The registration is effective
for five years and may be renewed at the end of each term for a fee
Any business name that is not registered as either a corporate name or
trade name and that does not fully identify the owner(s) of the
business must be registered as a fictitious name with the Ohio
Secretary of State. The registration of a fictitious name does not in
any way protect the use of that same name by another business. It
merely provides a method for the state to identify the owner(s) of a
Any corporate name approved by the Secretary of State is protected
from use by others in the same manner as a trade name, once approval
is granted. The name of all corporations in Ohio must end with or
include "Company," "Co.," 'Corporation," "Corp.," Incorporated," or
"Inc." The corporate name protection remains effective as long as the
corporation is recognized by the state as being in good standing. To
register a name, contact the Office of the Secretary of State, 30
East Broad Street, 14th Floor, Columbus, OH 43266-0418 or telephone
at (614) 466-3910. There is also a name availability line that you
may call to see if a name is currently being used in the State of
Ohio. The name availability line is (614) 466-0590.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA regulations exist for any business that has any employees beyond
family members. Restrictions become more stringent and inspections
are required once a business has 10 or more employees.
regulations may exist if your business requires the operation of
certain equipment or machinery or handles hazardous chemicals.
State of Ohio has a consultation service for small businesses
relating to OSHA. For more information on safety requirements contact
the OSHA for a free On-site Consultation Service at (800) 282-1425 or
(614) 644-2631 or write P.O. Box 825, 2322 West 5th Avenue, Columbus,
OH 43216-0825. Or you may contact the Federal Office of OSHA at
1-800-582-1708. In Cleveland, you can call (216) 522-3818. In
Columbus call (614) 469-5582. In Cincinnati the number is (513)
841-4132. The federal offices will answer questions over the phone.
All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension
are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard
to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin,
gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.
Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and
Director, OSU Extension.
TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868
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