Rhode Island Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

Last updated: March 18th, 2024
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If you’re starting a new business in Rhode Island, you may want to conduct a business entity search first. This is especially if you have your heart set on the desired business name.

The state’s business entity search function will allow you to check your preferred name against the business registry. Ultimately, this will confirm whether the name is available for use or whether it’s already been registered by another entity in the state.

Additionally, the business registry also allows you to access information on various businesses registered with the Rhode Island Secretary of State.

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to perform a Rhode Island business entity search.

Rhode Island search tips

When searching the Rhode Island online services database, the following tips will help you get the best results:

  • When conducting the name availability search, avoid using the inactive database.
  • The Rhode Island business entity search is not case-sensitive, meaning any search criteria in uppercase letters, lower case letters, or both.
  • Punctuation marks and special characters will also not alter your search results. So you’re free to use them or leave them out.
  • The search results are displayed in ascending or alphabetical order by name.
  • When searching for company names that are abbreviated, try to perform the search using both the abbreviations as well as the complete spellings of the names.
  • The word “The” is ignored during the name search. Therefore, whether you choose to include or exclude the word “The” in your search criteria when selecting the “begins with” option, it will be ignored.

You may narrow down your search results by using the following options:

  1. Begins with (Starts with)
  2. Exact match
  3. Soundex
  4. Inactive
  5. Full text
  6. Contains

Additionally, the default search option is the “Active database” unless you select the “Inactive” database in the entity name search.

The Rhode Island business registry allows you to search for registered businesses using the following search criteria:

  • Entity name
  • Identification number
  • Individual name
  • Filing number
  • Agent
  • Business address
  • Purpose
  • NAICS code

Business search by entity name

To begin your business search, refer to the Rhode Island Secretary of State Corporation search page.

Enter the business entity name

Enter the name of the business you’re looking up into the search bar next to “Enter name.”

You may then choose to refine your search by selecting one of the options under the search type drop-down menu as follows:

  • Begins with
  • Exact match
  • Soundex
  • Full text

Thereafter, click on “Search” at the bottom of the page or hit Enter on your keyboard.

Review the results

If there are names matching the keywords you entered, they will be displayed on this page. The information you’ll have access to includes:

  • Entity name
  • ID number
  • Inactive status
  • Address

Review additional business information

If you’d like to access further details on a specific company, simply click on the name of the company, and it will open up a business summary snippet on the right-hand side of the page.

Here you’ll be able to review various pieces of information, including the business’s filing type, status, nature of business, etc.

Additional search options

While on the same page, you may perform a business entity search using the following additional options:

  • Identification number
  • Individual name
  • Filing number
  • Agent
  • Business address
  • Purpose
  • NAICS code

Simply enter the relevant information into the field next to your preferred criteria.

Additionally, make use of the “Search Assistance” page for complete and detailed instructions on how to search using each search type.

If matching results are displayed, you’ll have access to all the same information you did when using the “business search by name” option.

Rhode Island search results

Irrespective of your search type or search criteria used, you will have access to the following information:

  • Entity name
  • ID number
  • Inactive status
  • Address
  • Entity type
  • Date of organization in Rhode Island
  • Effective date
  • The location of the principal office
  • The entity’s mailing address
  • The Registered Agent’s name and address
  • The name and address of each business manager

Additionally, there’s an option to view the entity’s business filings and access annual reports using the corporate ID.

Copies of documents and certificates

After conducting your Rhode Island business entity search, you may want to obtain copies of business documents. Business documents are sometimes required by licensing agencies, financial institutions, and courts for various reasons, but more so when you’re opening up corporate bank accounts or applying for business credit.

While plain copies are available from the Secretary of State, certified copies are issued by the Rhode Island Department of State’s Business Services Division. The difference between plain and certified copies is that plain copies are simply photocopies of documents that the state has on file, while certified copies are exact copies of original business documents.

Irrespective of the reasons for obtaining certified copies of business documents, there are three options to request them as follows:


You may visit the Department of State’s office or the Business Services Division at the following address:

148 West River Street
RI 02904

The Business Services Division operates from Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. You should also note that certified copies will not be available immediately.

Additionally, you will need to pay a fee for the certified copies via check made payable to the Rhode Island Department of State, cash, or credit card.

When requesting certified copies of business documents for nonprofit entities, you’ll need to pay $5 plus $0.15 per page. All other types of business structures will pay $10 plus $0.15 per page, and this fee is non-refundable.

It takes approximately two business days for certified copies to be processed thereafter; you’ll need to pick them up at the Business Services Division at the above-mentioned address.

By phone:

You may request certified copies via the Business Services Division contact number at 401-222-3040. Feel free to give them a call between Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Payment for business documents is accepted when you are collecting the certified copies from the office, and you may make payment via check, cash, or credit card. The processing time is also two business days been obtaining or requesting the certified copies via phone.

By mail:

Lastly, you can request certified copies of business documents via mail when you address your request to the following address:

Business Services Division
148 W. River St.
Providence, RI 02904-2615

Payment for the business documents is accepted via check, which is made payable to the Rhode Island Department of State. The processing time when requesting documents via mail is 5 to 7 business days, and you may use a self-addressed envelope to help expedite delivery time.

Business name availability

It’s important to note that even if your preferred name does not show when conducting the name search, there’s no guarantee that it will be available at the time of business registration.

Therefore, it’s advisable that if you want to use a specific name for your business and it does appear to be available at the time of your search, you reserve the name with the Secretary of State’s office.

To reserve a name in Rhode Island, you’ll need to fill out the Name Reservation Application Form. The application form should contain the following information:

  • Name you are reserving
  • Type of business
  • Applicant’s address and name
  • Date of reservation
  • Applicant’s signature

After completing the relevant information, file the form with the Rhode Island Secretary of State at the following address:

Office of the Secretary of State Corporations Division 148 W
River Street Providence
Rhode Island 02904-2615

The application must be submitted along with a $50 check made payable to the Rhode Island Secretary of State.

Business names are reserved for a period of 120 days in Rhode Island. If the 120-day time frame expires and you still have not completed the initial business filings, there’s no option to renew the name unless you are creating a limited partnership.

Additionally, like every other state, Rhode Island does have Corporation naming rules that you must adhere to when deciding on a name for your business.

Some of those rules include the following:

  • The name should contain the word, company, corporation, LLC, Limited, etc., or an abbreviation of any of these words.
  • The name must be significantly different from any other name reserved in the state.

For complete naming rules, refer to the Name Availability Guidelines on the Rhode Island Department of State’s website.

The secretary makes the final determination at the time of filing.

Domain name availability

After choosing the ideal name for your business, your work is still not done. This is because you need to choose a domain name to compliment your business name. Choosing the right domain name for your brand and your company is important as it helps your potential customers find and remember you.

Additionally, choosing a custom domain name will help your site stand out from the crowd and possibly boost your SEO. As it stands, there are approximately 360 million domain names registered, so it can be quite challenging to find the ideal domain name or at least one that is still available.

However, it’s not impossible. The following tips will help you choose the ideal domain name for your business:

  • It is recommended that you opt for the most popular domain extensions, which are the .com and .org extensions, as they are trusted. However, many other extensions exist, such as .xyz, .cafe, etc. But choosing these whimsical options may work against you as they may come across as untrustworthy or unprofessional. So if the .com domain is available, stick with it.
  • Avoid the use of doubled letters, hyphens, and numbers in your domain name, as they make it hard to read and appear messy.
  • A very important rule in considering domain names is to keep them short and simple so that it is memorable.
  • Stay specific, unique, and on-brand by keeping your business name as well as the type of business you are involved in at the front of your mind when brainstorming domain names.
  • Do your research prior to registering your domain name. This will help avoid infringing on a trademarked domain.

One of the best ways to find the ideal domain name for your business is to use a professional domain checking service like Namechk.com. Namechk.com checks your desired domain name against various platforms, including 100 social media networks.

Fictitious business name search

Another important consideration is thinking about registering a DBA or “doing business as” name in the state. Some of the reasons why you may need to consider this process is if you do not wish to use your business’s full legal name when transacting.

Additionally, it could also be helpful when it comes to branding and allowing you to conduct your business under a different title. So if you like to conduct business under any other name apart from your legal entity name, then a DBA registration is in order.

DBA names are also referred to as trade, assumed, and fictitious names in Rhode Island. If you’re running an LLC or corporation, then a fictitious name will allow you to operate multiple businesses without needing to form new legal entities.

When choosing a fictitious name, ensure that it complies with Rhode Island’s naming rules. You should also note that if a name is on file in the active corporate database, it will be rejected by the secretary of state at the time of registration.

Some of the mistakes to avoid when choosing the ideal fictitious name if your desired name is already taken include:

  • Using plural forms of the same word
  • Using an abbreviation in place of the complete spelling of the name
  • Using a variation of the same word
  • Changing the capitalization, special characters, or punctuation
  • However, adding a numeric designation to an existing name and ensuring that you get consent prior to submitting the name may work

In order to file your fictitious name in Rhode Island, you’ll need to complete the Fictitious Business Name Statement and include the following information in the documents:

  • Date of incorporation/organization
  • State of incorporation/formation
  • Registered Agent’s address
  • The fictitious business name you are registering
  • The signature of an authorized officer of the LLC, corporation, or limited partnership

If you plan on submitting the application via mail, you may do so to the following address:

Rhode Island Business Services Division
148 W. River Street
Ste. 1 Providence
RI 02904

The filing fee is $50 for LLCs, limited partnerships, and corporations, and you’ll pay $20 when registering a fictitious name for a nonprofit corporation.


How do I request a Certificate of Good Standing?

To obtain a Certificate of Good Standing, you can put in your request via mail, in person, by phone, or online. The quickest way to request the certificate is by using the online method. It costs $22 when ordering online from the Secretary of State, and processing takes two days. All other options can take up to seven days.

When do I need a DBA?

You need to register a DBA, also known as a fictitious name in Rhode Island if you’re planning on conducting business under any other name aside from your business’s legal entity name. The DBA registration will allow you to legally operate using your fictitious name and not your business entity name.

What is the main difference between for-profit corporations and nonprofits?

For-profit corporations have the primary purpose of generating income and profit for their owners, employees, leaders, and founders. Nonprofit businesses, however, are organizations that are primarily geared towards providing a charitable benefit to the community or creating an initiative for the greater good of humanity.

What does a service of process agent do?

A service of process agent who is also known as a registered or statutory agent is responsible for accepting official and legal correspondence from the state on behalf of your company. Members of the organization nominate the service of process agent, and the individual must consent to the appointment and have a physical address (not PO box) in the state.

Is it better to start a limited liability company (LLC) or a limited liability partnership(LLP)?

It all depends on the goals you have. However, both limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships have an equal amount of advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, it could cost a lot of money to change the business’s structure once you’ve made the initial filings. However, if your primary concern is tax liability or limited liability, then an LLC serve as the better option.

Start a Limited Liability Company Online Today

Click on the state below to get started.

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