Ohio licensing and permitting

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Ohio

Our business license report can help you determine what licenses and permits you need to start a business in Ohio.

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Congratulations on becoming a business owner! Even if you are still in the planning stages, deciding to go into business for yourself is a monumental and exciting decision. As the plan comes together, it’s important to check all the administrative boxes to make sure you’re in compliance with all business laws and regulations. Let us help you with our Worry-Free Compliance service. Most businesses require some form of license or permit to do what they do. Business licenses and permits can be issued at the federal, state, and local levels and also by specific industries.

Let’s take a look at what kinds of permits or licenses your Ohio business might need and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.

Step 1: Search for any necessary Ohio general business licenses

Some states require a general business license. There is no general Ohio state business license, but there are many other licenses and permits that could apply to you. Diligent research is necessary to determine what your business needs to remain compliant at all levels. Instead of spending your time searching the internet and calling numerous agencies pertaining to your business, consider our Business License Report to help you determine what Ohio business licenses and permits are needed for what you do. 

Ohio business licenses vs. Ohio business registration 

Business licenses are often confused with business registration. These are two different things. Registration is the act of officially forming a business and creating your legal entity. Business licenses or permits allow you to legally perform particular business activities. 

There are specific documents that need to be filed with the Ohio Secretary of State to form a business entity whether it’s an Ohio corporation, Ohio limited liability company, limited partnership, professional corporation, or other. There’s a lot to take into consideration when determining what type of business structure you want to create. Some deciding factors may include management structure, tax preference, and other specifics pertaining to your industry. 

The type of entity you choose will determine what documents to file. So if you’re in the business formation process, consider learning more about how our business formation services may help guide you along the way. 

Step 2: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Ohio business

Licensing for Ohio businesses can be required at all levels including local, state, and federal. Federal agencies govern licensing and permitting for several industries. Failing to obtain federal licenses or permits for your company could result in penalties, fines, and other legal actions including dissolution of the business entity. Check the following list to find out more about the industries that are federally regulated. 

Step 3: Check for Ohio permits and licenses

There are a number of licenses and permits that are issued by state-wide entities. Most of these are industry-specific for business activities within the state of Ohio. The state government’s license and permits page has a list of business types with corresponding information regarding the type of licenses needed. Let’s discuss a few Ohio business license examples.

Hauling Permits (Oversized Loads) 

The Ohio Department of Transportation (DOT) is in charge of all regulating traffic along state roadways including issuing special hauling permits for vehicles carrying loads that exceed the statutory maximum legal weights and dimensions. If your business is involved in the transportation of oversized or overweight items, you’ll be required to obtain a permit from the Ohio DOT. 

Alternative and Standard Energy

The electricity industry is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). You need to be certified by the PUCO before you can enter the Ohio market as an electricity supplier of standard or alternative energy such as wind farms. 

Combat Sport Professionals

The Ohio Athletic Commission regulates boxing, mixed martial arts, wrestling, and other combat sports and events. Professional athletes in these sports and their managers need to be licensed with the commission. This also includes licensing for promoters, events, and other professionals. 

Environmental Permits

If your business’s project or activity will discharge any pollutants to the air, land, water, or sewers, you probably need a permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This may depend on the type and quantity of the substance. If your company is involved in the treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous wastes, you may need a permit as well. 

Ohio Liquor Sales

Any restaurant or other establishment that sells liquor will need to acquire a specific state license from the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control. There are multiple types of Ohio liquor licenses that your business may need depending on the type of establishment, type of alcohol sold, and whether or not it will be sold on Sunday. 

Agriculture Labor Camp

Farming operations that employ workers require a permit from the Ohio Department of Health. This permit is also needed to maintain one or more buildings, trailers, tents, or vehicles used for agricultural businesses. A permit is also needed if you’re going to use any of your land as temporary living quarters for two or more families or five or more persons. These must be agriculture or food-processing employees.  Occupancy is permitted by rent, lease, or mutual agreement.

Step 4: Check your city or county for local licensing in Ohio

There are 88 counties in Ohio. Check with the specific county or municipality where you do business to ensure that you meet all their requirements and obtain proper licenses and permits to do business. Start your search for local requirements by visiting your county’s website. 

Step 5: Search for applicable Ohio professional licenses

There are many different types of licensed professions. A professional license is a document certifying that you have obtained all proper educational credentials and met all requirements to work in a certain profession. These are authorized and issued by agencies specific to the occupation or trade. Some professional Ohio business licenses include:

Find out more about professional licenses in Ohio by visiting the state government’s license and permits page. Use the search function to determine what professional licenses your industry requires.

Step 6: Obtain any other necessary Ohio business licenses and permits 

There are many licenses and permits that extend across multiple industries. Depending on the degree of regulation required for your industry, you may need a number of other Ohio state business licenses and permits. Someone who runs a dairy farm will have very different permitting requirements than someone who sells candles. Here are a few general Ohio business licenses and permits:

If you think any of these may apply to you, be sure to check your licensing requirements. 

Step 7: Apply for Ohio home-based business licenses

Ohio home-based businesses have to register with the state like any other business. If you’re starting a home-based business, check with your local governing agency for any restrictions such as type of business, zoning, signage, equipment, staffing, hours of operation, and other concerns. Most municipalities assert that the business needs to be a secondary use of the home. 

Step 8: Maintain your Ohio licensing  

Most Ohio business licenses and permits need to be renewed periodically. This could be yearly, every few years, or for every event held. Failure to maintain your licenses and permits could result in penalties, fines, or even an inability to conduct business in the state. 

While you’re spending precious time searching online and calling agencies to verify what you need, you could be focusing on running your business. Our license report service may help you determine what Ohio business licenses and permits are needed to keep your company compliant. Our partner uses information about the location of your business, your industry, and your activities to identify all licensing requirements.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.


  • Do all Ohio businesses need a license?

    All Ohio businesses must be registered with the Secretary of State. This is different from a business license. Business licenses pertain to the activities of specific industries in specific areas. These are regulated at the federal, state, and local levels.

  • Can you sell things without a license in Ohio?

    Making taxable retail sales without a vendor’s license is a criminal offense in Ohio. That means that selling items without a vendor’s license can result in criminal charges. Most retailers have either a regular county or a transient vendor’s license. Certain businesses may be required to obtain a service or a delivery vendor’s license.

  • Is it legal to run a business from home in Ohio?

    Home-based businesses need to check with their local governing agency for any restrictions such as zoning, signage, equipment, staffing, and other concerns. Some home-based businesses may not be permitted in certain areas of the state, so it’s important to check before commencing business operations.

  • What kind of license do I need for an online business in Ohio?

    Businesses that operate in Ohio, which include businesses that solely operate online, will need a vendor’s license through the Ohio Department of Taxation. Sales tax is collected on all products that are shipped from Ohio to Ohio residents.

  • Do I need a license to collect sales tax in Ohio?

    You will need a county vendor’s license to collect sales tax in Ohio. Obtain a Vendor’s License through the Ohio Department of Taxation.

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