1. Business Structure
2. Assign Your Registered Agent
3. Articles of Organization
4. Business Taxes
5. Permits and Licenses

Registering a business in RI requires choosing a name, making sure it's available, and filing paperwork with the Secretary of State. Opening a banking account for the business is also important. This all starts with a plan. Preparing a high quality business plan is the first, and possibly most important, thing to do. This provides a clear plan for finances, business goals, strategies for running the business, and how to reach your target market.

Business Structure

Choosing your business structure and registering it with the state makes your business official, so you have to decide which structure is going to work best for your situation. If you choose the limited liability corporation, or LLC, as your business structure, it helps to protect your personal assets, like your car and home.

The LLC business structure is used by many entrepreneurs due to it having the benefits of a corporation without drawbacks like a board of directors, corporate officers, or double taxation. Forming a corporation is also helpful if you're making an effort to raise capital or take your company public.

The Rhode Island Secretary of State makes it easy to see if a business name is available. Two databases are available for entrepreneurs to search for potential business names, they are:

  • Rhode Island Secretary of State website
  • U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
  • Look under the Tools tab and then click on TESS to perform your search. To register a name other than your own as a business name in Rhode Island:
  • Visit the town or city clerk where you plan to set up your business.
  • Request and fill out the provided form.
  • Have the filled-out form notarized.
  • Pay the filing fee when submitting your paperwork.

Assign Your Registered Agent

If your chosen business structure is an LLC in Rhode Island, then you're required to assign a registered agent. You can serve as the registered agent for your business, or you can choose someone else in the company to fulfill the registered agent duties. In Rhode Island, your registered agent must reside in the state, or you can choose a corporation that's authorized to do business in the state.

Articles of Organization

You have several options when you're ready to file the Articles of Organization for your RI business. This is done through the Secretary of State's office, and your options are filing:

  • Online
  • By postal mail
  • In person

If managers or members are going to manage your LLC, meaning it's manager managed, you have to list the chosen managers when filing your Articles of Organization. The nonrefundable filing fee of $150 must be made payable to the Rhode Island Secretary of State. The Articles of Organization go into effect the moment you file them unless you request a different starting date.

Business Taxes

The tax code for businesses is set up to be user-friendly for most business types. Some things that can make RI tax code more complex are the business structure you choose and having employees. Business structure types are partnerships, corporations, and disregarded entities. Credits, incentives, and kick-backs should also be explored.

Acquire your tax ID number from the State of Rhode Island Business Taxes, Division of Taxation. If using a computer, be sure to bookmark the website for future reference. If you have employees, expect to need your EIN when you register so you can report taxes with the RI Division of Taxation.

All businesses with employees have to report employment taxes periodically. The EIN is required when reporting employee wages to the Internal Revenue Service. If you don't have employees, you don't have to have an EIN for taxes, but there are other reasons to acquire one. Mainly, to open business accounts, a bank may require you to have one.

Permits and Licenses

Rhode Island is business-friendly and pro-people, and the state has taken measures to make it an even friendlier environment for business. The business licenses and professional licenses you need depend on the type of business you run. The state maintains a website where you can examine the list of all professions and occupations that require you to have a special license or permit.

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