How to File a DBA in Rhode Island

A Rhode Island DBA (doing business as) is called an assumed name. Getting a Rhode Island DBA registration won’t protect your personal assets. Forming a formal business structure like LLC or corporation will give you liability protection along with a business name.

Forming an LLC is the best choice for most small businesses. Learn more in our DBA vs LLC guide.

To get started with a Rhode Island DBA, choose your business entity type:


Register an RI DBA for a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership

General partnerships and sole proprietors are required to file their Rhode Island DBA with the City Clerk in the city that their business is located. Estates and real estate investment companies are also required to file with the city.

A general partnership is a business formed by two or more people, without a formal business structure. A sole proprietorship is a business owned by a single individual that isn't formally organized. In either case, the name of the business is the same as the name of the owners. A DBA can be useful in these cases for changing the name of the business to a more marketable name.

A DBA is only used for branding. A DBA doesn't offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For this reason, we strongly recommend that a DBA should only be used by a formal business structure such as an LLC or corporation for the purpose of adding new brands to an existing business. 

If you are running an informal business (sole proprietorship or partnership), we strongly suggest forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets. The name of the LLC can be selected to act as the brand name for the business.

Use our How to Get a DBA in Rhode Island guide below to register a Rhode Island assumed name for your business. For a look at DBA filing in another state, check out our other step-by-step How to Get a DBA guides.

Step 1. Start With a Rhode Island Assumed Name Search

Rhode Island assumed names must be unique and must also meet Rhode Island’s business name requirements. 

First, visit the Rhode Island Department of State's website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.

Next, review the Rhode Island naming requirements. In Rhode Island, assumed names should NOT include:

  • Words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) that may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business.

We recommend checking if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You might not plan on starting a business website today, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.

Find a Domain Now

Once you reserve a domain name for your DBA, consider setting up a business phone system to help strengthen your customer service and boost credibility. We recommend Phone.com because of its affordable pricing and variety of useful features. Start calling with Phone.com.

Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?

If you need help coming up with a DBA name, try our business name generator. Then, create a unique logo for your brand with our free logo generator.

Step 2. Filing a DBA in Rhode Island with the City Clerk

Sole proprietors and partnerships are required to file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the appropriate city clerk’s office(s) in order to operate under a DBA.

NOTE: Some cities require ALL types of businesses operating under a name other than their legal name to file an assumed name with the city (this includes corporations and LLCs).

We will give you step-by-step directions to get a City of Providence DBA. For directions in other cities, please contact your city clerk.

You can find your city’s contact information from the State of Rhode Island's website.

How to File a City of Providence DBA

Providence requires any business with an address in the city that is operating under a name other than its legal name to file for an assumed business name. 

Before you start the DBA filing process, it is a good idea to search the Providence City assumed name records and the state business database.

Once you have selected your name, you will then complete the Certificate of Assumed Business Name and submit it to the Providence City Clerk. The certificate can be submitted in-person.

File Your Providence Assumed Name

File Your Certificate of Assumed Business Name In-Person

Download Form

Cost:
$10
Filing Fee
$5 Notary Fee (if not already notarized)
$1 Certified Copy

Office Address:
Providence City Hall
25 Dorrance Street
Room 311

Manage Your City of Providence DBA

DBA Questions
You can call the Providence City Clerk at (401) 680-5248 for general questions about business certificates, assumed names, and DBA requirements.

Renew Your DBA
Your assumed name does not expire.

Change Your DBA
You will need to withdraw your current assumed name and file a new registration to change your assumed name.

Withdraw Your DBA
Call the Providence City Clerk at (401) 680-5248.

If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your sole proprietorship or partnership we recommend:

four point five out of five  Swyft Filings ($99 + state fee)

Register an RI DBA for an LLC, Corporation, or LLP

Incorporated businesses file their Certificate of Assumed Name with the Rhode Island Department of State.

The following business types are considered incorporated:

  • For-profit Corporations, Nonprofit Corporations
  • Professional Corporations, Professional Associations
  • Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Any Foreign Filing Entities

NOTE: Some cities (including Providence) require ALL types of businesses operating under a name other than their legal name to file an assumed name with the city. Check with your local city clerk’s office to see if you must file an assumed name as well. 

You can file a DBA for your incorporated business yourself by using this guide. Or, use a professional service:

Step 1. Do a Rhode Island Business Entity Search

Rhode Island fictitious names must be unique and must also meet Rhode Island’s business name requirements. 

First, visit the Rhode Island Department of State's website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.

Next, review the Rhode Island naming requirements. In Rhode Island, assumed names should NOT include:

  • Words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) that may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business.

We recommend checking if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You might not plan on starting a business website today, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.

Find a Domain Now

Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?

If you need help coming up with a DBA name, try our business name generator. Then, create a unique logo for your brand with our free logo generator.

Step 2: Filing Your Rhode Island Fictitious Business Name Statement

You are required to set up your DBA with the Rhode Island Department of State if your business is incorporated. The Fictitious Business Name Statement will ask for your new DBA name and information about your business. There are different forms depending on your business structure.

File a Rhode Island Fictitious Name

Option 1: File Online With Rhode Island’s Business Services Online Filing System

File Online

- OR -

Option 2: File the Fictitious Business Statement by Mail

Corporation
LLC
LP


Cost:
$50 Filing Fee

Mailing Address:
Division of Business Services
148 W. River Street
Providence, RI 02904-2615

Manage Your Rhode Island DBA

DBA Questions
Call the Rhode Island Department of State (401) 222-3040.

Renew Your DBA with the State
Your Fictitious Business Name Statement does not expire.

Change Your DBA
To change your DBA, you need to file a new registration form.

Withdraw Your DBA
You can withdraw your DBA by filing a Statement of Abandonment of Use of a Fictitious Name. You can also do this online. The fee is $50.

If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your LLC or corporation we recommend:

four point five out of five Swyft Filings ($99 + state fee)

After Filing Your Rhode Island DBA

If filing a DBA marks the beginning of your business journey, then there are a few more steps that you should take before getting started:

  • Create your Business’s Website - Every business needs a website. Luckily, drag-and-drop builders like GoDaddy and Wix make the job quick and easy. Check out our Best Website Builder article to find the tool that’s best for you.
  • Get your Business Finances in Order - You’ll need to separate your business finances from your personal ones. This is accomplished by opening a business bank account. If your business has long lead times or other cash flow irregularities, you can also look into a business credit card.
  • Protect Your Business - While an LLC will help to protect your personal assets in the case of a lawsuit, your business’s assets also need protection. Having the right business insurance will ensure that you’re covered if the worst happens. Most businesses start with general liability insurance as their base coverage.

DBA Rhode Island FAQ

How many DBAs can I have?

You can have as many DBAs as you can afford to create and are able to keep track of. Each one comes with additional incremental expenses and paperwork, meaning more is not necessarily better.

Can a DBA get an EIN or Tax ID?

DBAs aren’t required to have a separate EIN because DBAs aren’t a business entity. The business entity that the DBA is under would have an EIN if an EIN is required.

To learn more about EINs and when you need one for your business, read our What is an EIN guide.

Can a DBA become an LLC?

No. An LLC is a business entity, while a DBA is just a name for a business.

Sole proprietorships are often confused with DBAs, but they are not the same: a sole proprietorship is a business entity, therefore it can choose to become an LLC.

To learn how to form an LLC, visit our Form an LLC state guides.

Can a DBA have Inc. in the name?

A DBA can only have Inc. in the name if the business entity the DBA is attached to is a corporation.

How do I set up a DBA for a rental property?

Holding a rental property in your name and with a DBA will not afford you any protection. The best option is to form an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of an issue with the rental property. In any case, it is always best to consult an attorney.

When would it be good to get a DBA versus a legal name change?

Getting a DBA is often a better choice than changing your business’s legal name. If you want to rebrand your company or focus on another line of business, filing for a DBA is a simpler process than filing for a legal name change.

Is my DBA protected from being used in other places?

Some state-level laws prevent DBAs that are too similar to existing ones from being used, but this varies from state to state. It is possible to trademark a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines.

Useful Links for Your Rhode Island DBA