How to Set Up a DBA in Rhode Island

Last updated: March 17th, 2024
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A DBA (Doing Business As) allows individuals and businesses to operate under a different name or expand their brand presence while maintaining legal compliance. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of setting up your DBA in Rhode Island.

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Many people dream of turning their passion into a money-making business. However, many people assume that launching a business requires a ton of paperwork, but that’s not the case. In Rhode Island, you can file one form to register a business name, or a DBA, to get started. Wondering what a DBA is and why it’s important when starting a business? Keep on reading.

What is a DBA?

A DBA is an acronym for “doing business as”, sometimes known as a fictitious name, trade name, or DBA name depending on which state you are acquiring, is a state-level name that your company can use to do business under. Or in simpler terms, a DBA is just another name you can use for your business.

Sole proprietors can benefit a lot from using a DBA because instead of using their own name to run their business, they can use a DBA to operate under a different name, which makes your company look more legitimate and trustworthy to future consumers. 

If you are thinking about a unique business name for your startup as a sole proprietor, the next step would be DBA filing to make sure the name of the business you thought about could be the legal name for your business. Where you are registering for LLCs, general partnerships, or any type of business entity, the acquisition of a DBA is a good way to start. 

How to search DBA names in Rhode Island

The first step to setting up a DBA in Rhode Island is thinking of a good name for your business. When thinking of a name, you want to make sure it is relevant to your business, and it is something that you want to keep for a long time.

Once you come up with a list of names, you can search the business database in Rhode Island to see if the name you chose is available. Here’s how:

1
Visit the Rhode Island Department of State Website

No two businesses can have the same name in Rhode Island, which is why before you file for DBA, you must check the availability first. You can do a quick search using their name search tool.

To see if your list of names is available, just type in each name and click on “search” to get the results.

2
Review the results

If any of the results match your name or are similar, you need to choose a different name that is unique to avoid confusion once your business is up and running. 

3
Understand name restrictions

Note that there are a couple of name restrictions that must comply with the Rhode Island standards. A business name should not confuse people with government agencies, and it shouldn’t include restricted words such as bank, attorney, or university. However, you can still use these words if you get additional licenses that could prove your practice. 

Have a name in mind? Check on name availability first here.

Cost to get a DBA set up

The cost to get a DBA name set up in Rhode Island is $10, which is cheaper than in other states that can go as high as $200. Unless your business entity is an LLC or corporation, you cannot file online.

On top of the $10 fee, you need to get the name certificate notarized, which will cost just $5 more, amounting to a total of $15. You can pay with cash, credit card, or check depending on what your local county clerk accepts. 

How to register a DBA in Rhode Island

Now that you understand how to select a name that’s appropriate for your DBA, your next step is to register it. Where you file is based on your business entity. If you’re a sole proprietor, you’ll file at the county clerk’s office. If your business is set up as an LLC, you can file online.

1
Visit your local county clerk’s office

You can only get an assumed name certificate in person, so you will need to visit the local county clerk in your area to start the process. If you are not sure where the nearest offices are, you can refer to this list here.

2
Fill out the form with the necessary business information

After checking if the name is available (using the instructions above), you can go ahead and fill out this form here

When filling out the form, it will ask you for relevant information about your business. The information you need will include your business name, business address, email, owner’s name, and a short description of your business.

3
Pay the filing fee

At the local office, you will need to pay the $10 filing fee, which is an affordable rate compared to other states that charge for a name certificate. You can also get more copies for $1 each. 

4
Notarization

Unlike other states, Rhode Island requires you to get your DBA notarized by a notary public, which is just another $5 on top of the filing fee. 

5
Filing a DBA for an LLC

The process of getting a DBA varies between different business entities, so if you are filing for an assumed business name for an existing LLC, you can do it online through the Secretary of State Website’s online filing system. Of course, all name restrictions and standards are the same for all business entities.  

Ready to register your DBA? Fill out these forms.

What comes next

Now that you have your DBA or Certificate of Assumed Business Name in Rhode Island, there are a few steps you need to take to set up shop in the state. Here are a couple of more steps to fully flourish your new business:

1
Get a website

If your business wants to get more brand recognition and wants to reach more people in and out of your city, you can set up a website by getting a domain name and hosting service.

It is easy to set up a website since there are many hosting services that also offer quick and intuitive website building that makes it a lot easier for people, even without coding knowledge or experience.

A website can help your business grow an audience and it adds another layer of legitimacy instead of just having social media accounts. 

2
Get an EIN

Another essential thing to get if you are just starting a business and already have a DBA is getting an employer identification number or EIN from the IRS. It is easy to get, and it has tons of benefits, such as tax benefits, enabling you to hire help, and allowing you to open lines of credit for your business. 

3
Get your business license and other permits

Not all businesses need to be registered with Rhode Island. However, some businesses require getting extra licenses to operate. For more information on the business licenses and permits your startup will need, you can visit the Department of Business Regulation website to file and learn more. 

4
Start working on products and infrastructure

Now that you have your permits and assumed name certificate, you can work on the things that matter most, such as the products and services you want to sell and develop the place of your business. 

If you plan to get an EIN, you can do so on the IRS website.

Who is a DBA best for?

A DBA is best for a sole proprietorship that wants to operate or do business under a different name other than its legal name. For sole proprietors, a DBA allows them to work under an assumed name of your business without having to file or open a separate LLC business structure.

Note that a DBA is different from an LLC or any other business entity. While your LLC is a formal business structure, a DBA is just another name your business can operate under. However, an LLC is a legal entity that can also benefit from having a DBA for business growth and creating separate entities within a growing small business. 

For example, suppose you already own a small business that sells one thing. In that case, you can also expand and create a separate legal entity with a DBA to differentiate between these two businesses regarding legal protections and liability. 

Why would entrepreneurs choose to set up a DBA in Rhode Island?

There are many reasons to get a DBA instead of an LLC or any other business entity, especially when you are just starting. With that in mind, here are some of the benefits of starting a DBA in Rhode Island:

  • Having a DBA allows you to apply for an employee identification number or EIN, which allows you to hire employees or freelancers.
  • Getting a DBA is the most affordable way to start a legitimate business as a sole proprietor.
  • A DBA will allow you to do business using a different name other than your personal name, which also allows you to create a business bank account and start credit lines with an assumed name, other than your legal name.
  • Acquiring a DBA is sometimes required by state laws to open a business.
  • Existing companies can use a DBA to rebrand without having to change their original name, whether it’s an incorporation or LLC.
  • A DBA offers privacy protection since you can do business under a different name.
  • A fictitious business name will make your business more legitimate and trustworthy, which is essential for growing your client base.
  • Having a separate company name or trade name is essential for small business owners to start a brand.
  • It allows you to separate personal assets from business assets.

FAQs

Can you get funding from lenders in Rhode Island if you want to start a business?

The government of Rhode Island offers startup assistance from the government. If you have an idea for a business and have created a well-written and studied business plan, you can get government assistance to turn that idea into a reality through funding. Visit the Rhode Island Commerce website to learn more. 

How long does it take to get your DBA set up in Rhode Island?

It usually takes around a week to get your DBA name certificate in Rhode Island as long as there are no errors and no incomplete information when you are filing your forms. Once the process starts, you can expect your DBA within a week or even the same day when you are filing a DBA for a sole prop or general partnership.

Do you need to publish your DBA in local newspapers in Rhode Island?

No, you don’t need any publication to get a DBA set up in Rhode Island. However, you will need to get the name certificate notarized by a notary public, which is an extra not required in other states. It is quick and easy and only costs $5 on top of the $10 filing fee.

Can you hire employees with a DBA in Rhode Island?

Yes, you can hire employees with just your DBA in Rhode Island as long as you have an EIN, which you can quickly obtain from the IRS website. With an EIN, you can get insurance for your employees, as well as other benefits like worker’s comp.

Do you need to register your DBA business with the state of Rhode Island?

You don’t need to register your business with the state if your business entity is a sole proprietorship or general partnership. However, for limited liability companies and corporations, you do need to register your business with the Secretary of State. Although it is more steps for these entities, it provides more benefits such as liability protection.

Find out how to set up your DBA

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