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How To Do A Rhode Island Business Name Search

How To Do A Rhode Island Business Name Search

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How To Do A Rhode Island Business Name Search

Starting a business in Rhode Island involves several steps, but one of the first is choosing a business name. This step is a little more complicated when setting up an LLC or corporation in Rhode Island because these business structures must have a unique name. 

To help you verify that your corporation or LLC is available to use, our step-by-step guide will show you how to quickly do a Rhode Island business name search using the Rhode Island Secretary of State business name database.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Rhode Island

Step 1: Visit the Rhode Island Entity Name Database

Go to the Rhode Island Department of State website.

Step 2: Search for a Business Name

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Search by entity name” field. In this example, we will do a Rhode Island LLC name search by looking up “Sew What.” Enter your name and click “Name Availability Check.” To thoroughly search your name, it is recommended to search by “Begins With,” “Exact Match,” and “Full Text” in the drop-down menu.

How To Do A Rhode Island Business Name Search

Step 3: Review the Results

When we search the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “The Pool Guy.” To register a corporation or LLC name in Rhode Island, the name must be distinguishable from the other registered names. The word “The” isn’t considered a distinguishable word, so “Pool Guy LLC” wouldn’t be available either. If you were looking to form an LLC with this name, you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.

Rhode Island Entity Search

To find more information about any of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Entity Name” column to see a detailed report.  In this example, we will look up “The Pool Guy LLC.”

Rhode Island Name Search Results

While the name “The Pool Guy” by itself may not be available, other variants such as “The Pool Guy of Rhode Island.”  Searching for this business name brings a result that says, “No records found; try a new search using different criteria.”  Even if the name looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will do their own search to avoid confusing potential customers with a business name that sounds like someone else’s.  Typically, words that sound alike but are spelled differently, and even abbreviations, will make names appear as available but won’t be approved.

Rhode Island Business Name Availability

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Rhode Island.  Even when the name of the business you want looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will make a final determination at the time of filing to ensure the name you picked isn’t too similar to other registered names. 

Also, keep in mind that even though each Corporation and LLC name must be unique, it may not stop someone else from using that name since small business names for a sole proprietorship or partnership are not registered by the Secretary of State and are not required to be unique. To protect your business name, consider getting a trademark.

Related: Should I trademark my business name?

What information can be found on the Rhode Island business entity database?

The business entity database search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:

  • Business Name
  • Entity Type: Corporation, Limited Liability Company, etc.
  • ID Number: State business entity filing number.
  • Date of Organization: The date the entity was first filed with the Secretary of State.
  • Effective Date: A business entity can elect to start at a date up to 90 days after filing if desired.
  • Principal Address: This could be the business’s physical address or the address where business records are stored.
  • Resident Agent Information:Resident Agent in Rhode Island is the singular point of contact for the entity should a legal, or tax notice need to be sent to the business.  This is often one of the owners, and if their home address is used, that address becomes public information.  Many people find this concerning and use a Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agents, so their home address isn’t listed. 
  • Purpose: A brief description of what the business does.
  • NAICS: The North American Industry Classification System is a system to categorize and collect data on different industries.
  • Filings such as the LLC Annual Report and LLC Articles of Organization are available to view as well.

Rhode Island Business Name Search FAQs

How do I find a name for a Rhode Island sole proprietorship?

Unlike Rhode Island corporations and LLCs in Rhode Island, the names of Rhode Island sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not listed on the state database. Instead, they are registered with the Town or County Clerk’s office where the business is located. 

Registering a name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership requires filing a Rhode Island Trade Name Certificate (often referred to as a DBA, Doing Business As, or Fictitious Business Name) with the County Clerk. 

How do I form an LLC in Rhode Island?

Before starting your business and forming an LLC, be sure to do the business entity search first to make sure the name is available to use.  Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form a Rhode Island LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.

While not required in Rhode Island, an LLC operating agreement, which contains the rules for how the LLC operates, is a document worth considering, especially for multi-member LLCs.

After forming a Limited Liability Company, be sure to register for Rhode Island business licenses and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) so the business is legal to operate.

What are the naming guidelines for a Rhode Island LLC?

In addition to being unique, the LLC’s name must include a special designator such as Limited Liability Company, LLC, L.L.C., etc., and it may not use restricted words such as bank or insurance unless the entity is licensed to operate as such.

Can an LLC name be reserved?

If you want a name but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Application for Reservation of Entity Name with the Department of State—Business Services Division. The name reservation will hold a name for up to 120 days.

How To Do A Rhode Island Business Name Search

How To Do A Rhode Island Business Name Search

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