Welcome to the Start a Business tutorial composed with the purpose of educating prospective incorporators on the steps required in filing their business with the Secretary of State. Filers will find that there is an online filing system in place for those wishing to form profit and non-profit corporations as well as individuals seeking to operate professional associations. However, we have also supplied all requisite PDFs here on this webpage and instructed readers on how to complete them correctly and send them to the office of the Secretary of State. Whether you choose to file electronically or through the mail, you will be asked to pay the filing fee of $99. This price may vary depending on the number of authorized shares you’ve issued (see below table for exact pricing).

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At this point, before we start, we usually suggest that filers take a second to perform a Business Entity Search in order to investigate the availability of their proposed business name. You may still choose to do so, however you will find a name availability search in the registration process should you decide to submit your filing online. A Name Reservation filing is a fairly common action to take prior to registration as it allows for a window of 180 days during which you will be able to prepare for registration without the worry of another entity taking your corporate name.

How to File a Profit Corporation/Professional Association (Online)

Step 1- In order to submit your articles online as a professional association or profit corporation, you will first need to create an account with the Secretary of State online portal (registration tutorial can be found here). When ready, navigate to this webpage to log in.

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Step 2- On your homepage, you will be able to see four options in the middle of your screen. Select the blue, file a new business, option to proceed to the next step.

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Step 3- Here you will be able to choose your entity type, in this case, either profit corporation or professional association.

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Step 4- As previously mentioned, the Secretary of State has provided a name availability check within the filing process. You may choose to use it, or, if you’re confident that your name is indeed unique to your entity, you may simply click Begin Filing.

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Step 5- The first article will ask that you provide the name of the corporation, the location of the principle office and the effective date (if applicable). For professional associations only, you will need to indicate the corporation’s profession at this juncture. Click Continue when ready.

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Step 6- Share fees will be applied at this section (see the second window below for exact amounts). You will need to indicate the number of shares, the type of share and the par value of said shares (if applicable). The fee will change in the two fields at the far right of the screen indicating the total filing fee to expect by the end of your session. At the very bottom. you will also be able to indicate the amount of initial stated capital if this is the case.

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Step 7- This is the point at which you will appoint an agent. Provide their name, address, email and consent in the provided fields before continuing.

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Step 8- Should you wish to file any additional attachments to be submitted to the Secretary of State and displayed in the public database, this is your chance. You may upload the PDF or choose to simply skip this step.

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Step 9- The authorization by the incorporators must be added by providing each individual or business entity’s name. Once all have been submitted, you may Save and Continue.

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Step 10- Here, you will be able to review the information that you’ve submitted in your articles. If all looks to be correct and accurate, you will be able to click Save and Preview (ensure that your pop-up blocker has been disable for this step).

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Step 11- The window that will present itself will be a preview of the Articles of Incorporation for you to review. At the bottom, you will be able to click on the Verify this Document link to continue.

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Step 12- On this page you will be able to click the check box on the far left had side of the window to select the filing. Providing that the filing fee seems accurate and you do not wish to make any more edits, you will be able to proceed to the payment of the fees by clicking Add Selected Filing(s) to Check Out.

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Step 13- This is the page through which you will be able to submit your credit card info, billing info and finally make the payment for your submission. Clicking Confirm and Proceed will present you with two more pages in which you can review the information you’ve submitted and officially submit your filing to the Secretary of State. Good luck!

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How to File a Non-Profit Corporation (Online)

Step 1- Like with all online filings in Ohio, the registration of a non-profit corporation will require that you create an online account with the Secretary of State website. Once this has been completed, you will be able to navigate to this webpage and submit your login credentials.

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Step 2- Once you’ve accessed your homepage, you will be able to click on the blue link which states File a New Business or Register a Name.

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Step 3- Use the drop-down menu to select the non-profit corporation option before clicking Continue at the bottom of the screen. Should you wish to expedite the filing process, you will be able to select the level of expedition at this stage in the registration process.

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Step 4- The Secretary of State has provided the opportunity for you to research the availability of your corporate name within the filing system. Should you choose to ignore this, you can simply click Begin Filing to get started.

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Step 5- The first step will ask that you provide the corporate information. This will involve submitting the name, the principle office address in Ohio and the effective date. In the bottom field, describe the purpose for which the corporation is formed.

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Step 6- Secondly, you will need to appoint your registered agent by providing their name, their address, their email and their consent (given by entering their name in the bottom field).

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Step 7- In this webpage, you will find a link to choose a file to attach to your articles. This will allow you to submit additional information regarding your corporation which will be displayed in the Secretary of State’s public database. If you do no wish to upload, you can simply click on the No Attachment(s) Needed, Continue link.

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Step 8- Here you will be able to submit the names of all incorporators forming this business. Once each individual/entity has been added, you may click Save and Continue.

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Step 9- The review page will allow you to edit any incorrect information if necessary. When all seems as if it’s complete and accurate, you will be able to, with the pop-up blocker disabled, click Save and Preview.

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Step 10- A pop-up window will allow you to preview the example of the articles to again, double check it for accuracy. If all is well, click Verify this Document.

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Step 11- Here, you will be able to select the filing in order to pay the filing fee. Check the box in the far left hand column and select Add Selected Filing(s) to Check Out. 

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Step 12- You will be able to pay your filing fee by credit card. Submit the card details as well as your billing information before clicking Continue and Proceed. The next two pages will have you reviewing the card information that you’ve submitted, officially paying and effectively submitting your document to the Secretary of State for processing.

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How to File a Profit Corporation (PDF)

Step 1- To file a profit corporation by PDF, you will first need to download the Articles of Incorporation onto your computer.

Step 2- When opened, you will notice that the first page is a cover letter. Simply supply the contact information for the person to receive correspondence from the Secretary of State and indicate whether you’d like to get notifications via email for their offices and whether you’d like to sign up for the filing notification system. This is the point at which you will choose to expedite your filing process if you so wish.

oh-pdf-coverStep 3- The information required in the articles is as follows:

Page 1

  • 1- Name of corporation
  • 2- Location of principle office in Ohio
  • Effective date
  • 3- Number of shares, type and par value
  • 4- Amount of initial stated capital (if applicable)

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Page 2

  • Original appointment of statutory agent involves the following:
    • Name of corporation
    • Name and address of agent
    • Signature of majority of incorporators
  • Acceptance of appointment must involve this info:
    • Agent name
    • Corporation name
    • Agent’s signature

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Page 3

  •  Have all incorporators sign and submit their printed name to complete the document.

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Step 4- Once the forms have been completed, you will be required to attach to them a check made out to the Secretary of State covering the filing fee. The base amount will be $99 and will increase depending on the number of corporate shares (see top of page for amounts) as well as whether or not you would like to expedite the filing process. If you don’t plan on expediting the process, send your filing to the first address below, otherwise, the second address will be suitable to your needs.

This address is to be used for standard processing:

Ohio Secretary of State

PO Box 670

Columbus, OH 43216

This address is to be used for expedited processing:

Ohio Secretary of State

PO Box 1390

Columbus, OH 43216

How to File a Professional Association (PDF)

Step 1- Filing for a professional association through the mail involves essentially the same information as filing for a profit corporation. First, you will need to download the Articles of Incorporation

Step 2- This first page is simply a cover letter giving you the ability to relay the contact person’s information and indicate whether or not you’d like to receive notices via email from the Secretary of State as well as if you’d like to sign up for the filing notification system. If you wish to expedite your process, now’s your chance.

oh-pdf-coverStep 3- The articles will require that you supply the following information:

Page 1

  • 1- Name of corporation and corporate profession
  • 2- Location of principle office in Ohio
  • Effective date
  • 3- Number of shares, type and par value
  • 4- Amount of initial stated capital (if applicable)

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Page 2

  • Original appointment of statutory agent involves the following:
    • Name of corporation
    • Name and address of agent
    • Signature of majority of incorporators
  • Acceptance of appointment must involve this info:
    • Agent name
    • Corporation name
    • Agent’s signature

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Page 3

  •  Have all incorporators sign and submit their printed name to complete the document.

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Step 4- Once the forms have been completed, you will be able to pay the $99 filing fee. This price may vary depending on the number of corporate shares as well as whether or not you plan on expediting the filing process (see top of page). Pay the fee by check or money order made out to the Secretary of State and send the filing package to one of the below addresses. The first location is to be used to for standard processing and the second for expedited processing.

This address is to be used for standard processing:

Ohio Secretary of State

PO Box 670

Columbus, OH 43216

This address is to be used for expedited processing:

Ohio Secretary of State

PO Box 1390

Columbus, OH 43216

How to File a Non-Profit Corporation (PDF)

Step 1- A non-profit corporation can be filed easily through the downloading of the non-profit Articles of Incorporation.

Step 2- This first page is simply a cover letter giving you the ability to relay the contact person’s information and indicate whether or not you’d like to receive notices via email from the Secretary of State as well as if you’d like to sign up for the filing notification system. If you wish to expedite your process, now’s your chance.

oh-pdf-coverStep 3- In the initial articles, you will be required to enter the following info:

  • 1- Name of corporation
  • 2- Location of principle office
  • Effective filing date
  • 3- Purpose for which corporation is formed

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Page 2

  • Original appointment of statutory agent involves the following:
    • Name of corporation
    • Name and address of agent
    • Signature of majority of incorporators
  • Acceptance of appointment must involve this info:
    • Agent name
    • Corporation name
    • Agent’s signature

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Page 3

  •  Have all incorporators sign the document here and supply their printed name.

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Step 4- Once the forms have been completed, you can send them, along with the filing fee of $99 to the below location for processing. This fee is payable by check or money order made out to the Secretary of State. Should you choose to expedite the process, you must adjust the fee accordingly and send the package instead to the second address below.

This address is to be used for standard processing:

Ohio Secretary of State

PO Box 670

Columbus, OH 43216

This address is to be used for expedited processing:

Ohio Secretary of State

PO Box 1390

Columbus, OH 43216

Tips

EIN– As you are registering a new corporation, it is essential that, after your filing has been accepted, you apply for an Employer Identification Number. This indentifier allow you to hire employees legally as well as transact financial operations while using the company name. The IRS uses the EIN to keep tabs on all legitimate, tax-withholding entities. To learn how to apply Online, or through the filing of Form SS-4, you may click on the heading of this paragraph to review our tutorial.

Corporate Bylaw– This is not a required document in the state of Ohio, and for this reason, you will not need to draft one or file one with the Secretary of State. However, it is recommended that you at least consider the benefits of implementing a corporate bylaw into the organizational structure of your business as it will delineate the nature of the relationship between the corporate officials and the corporation itself. For more information, and access to our free templates in both MS Word and Adobe PDF, click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph.

Renewal– It is not required that business entities renew each year through the submission of an annual report. Although this is common practice in most states, the Ohio Secretary of State has only asked that professional associations submit a biennial report. This document will provide very basic information, updating the Secretary of State of any changes which may have occurred in regards to the data submitted in the initial formation documents. In this state, there is no online submission of this document. Instead, you will be required to download this PDF, and send it via mail to the below address with the attached filing fee of $25. Like with the registration filings, the second address below is used only for expedited processes.

This address is to be used for standard processing:

Ohio Secretary of State

PO Box 670

Columbus, OH 43216

This address is to be used for expedited processing:

Ohio Secretary of State

PO Box 1390

Columbus, OH 43216