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In Rhode Island, a business operating under a fictitious name will need to register a DBA. Learn more about what a DBA is, who needs one and how to register.
What is a DBA?
A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As”, Trade Name, Assumed Name or Fictitious Name is a name used by a business, that is different from the legal name of the business.
When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Rhode Island, like most states, require the business to register their business name. The registration requirement was designed to protect consumers from business owners hiding anonymously behind the name of a business.
Who needs to register?
The requirements and need to register an Assumed Business Name vary depending on the type of business entity.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA.
The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering. For example, if John Smith starts a business repairing computers operating under John Smith he doesn’t need to register. If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair then he will need to register.
Corporations and Limited Liability Companies won’t typically register a fictitious name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process. Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to operate under their corporate/LLC umbrella to keep the liability protection without having to form another entity.
Rhode Island DBA Registration Form
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships will contact the Town or City Clerk in EACH Town or City where the business will do or intends to do business.
Corporations, LLCs, LPs will file the Fictitious Business Name Statement with the Secretary of State – Form 624
How much does it cost to register?
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships (each town or city where the business is operating) – $10
Corporations, LLCs and Limited Partnerships – $50
What are the steps to file a DBA in Rhode Island?
Sole Proprietorship & Partnership
Step 1 – Obtain the Trade Name Certificate
A Trade Name Certificate will need to be obtained from the Town or City Clerk’s office.
Most Clerks have this form on their website and all have form available to pick up at their office.
Step 2 – Fill out the Form
Information typically requested on the form includes:
- Name(s) of the business owners
- Trade Name being requested
- Principal business address
Step 3 – Notarize the Form
Before filing the Trade Name Certificate, be sure to have it notarized. Most Clerk’s offices have notary services available at no cost.
Step 4 – Submit the Form
Submit the filing fee and form to each Town or City Clerk where the business will operate. A physical certificate will be provided upon filing.
Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Limited Partnership
Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
A corporation, LLC or LP will register with the Secretary of State. A business may not register a name that is the same or similar to another business in Rhode Island.
Names can be searched on the Secretary of State’s website. Learn how to do a business name search in Rhode Island.
Step 2 – Fill out the Fictitious Business Name Statement
Information requested on the form includes:
- ID number of the business entity as assigned by the Secretary of State
- Current legal name of the business
- Fictitious name being requested
- State of formation
- Date of incorporation / organization
- Principal business address
Step 3 – Submit the Form
Submit the filing fee and form to:
Office of the Secretary of State
148 W. River Street
Providence, RI 02904-2615
DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banks or trusts. Additionally, names may not be deceptive or represent fraudulent activities.
Protecting your business name
While registering a Fictitious Business Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Rhode Island (ONLY for corporations, LLCs and LPs) it does very little from someone else operating a business under that name in other states. There is no protection from other businesses using the same name for sole proprietorships and partnerships registering their name. If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark.
Learn more about trademarks.