Step 1) Verify & Secure Your Brand Name
To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in RI, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the state website.
Keep in mind your LLC name should contain the words ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company’. Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ are also acceptable. If needed, you can file a Reservation of Entity Name form with the Sec. of State Corporations Divisions that's good for 120 days.
Filing Fee: $50
Remember, this isn’t optional in Rhode Island-- it’s mandatory.
Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use Weebly to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!
Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent
Your Rhode Island Registered Agent is an individual or recognized business entity in the state with a street address (typically non-P.O. Box) responsible for receiving and helping to handle/process all official documents like state filings, legal notices, important tax forms, etc. One is required to legally conduct business.
That said, you can hire a third party service and pay up to $160 a year or get a qualified agent free of charge when you form an LLC through a service like IncFile.
Step 3) File Articles Of Organization
Download, complete, and file Articles of Organization with the Sec. of State when you're ready. It's an official declarative document that discloses some of the very basics of your brand for the public record including:
- Name and address of the Rhode Island LLC;
- Full name and address of the LLC’s Registered Agent;
- Full name and address of each of the LLC’s organizer;
- Note whether the LLC will be manager or member managed;
Filing Fee: $150
Step 4) Get An EIN
In Rhode Island, as in just about everywhere else in the nation, your company needs an EIN or FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) to legally conduct business, process taxes, hire employees, set up business bank accounts, etc.
It’s not optional in the same way it’s not optional for individuals to have a social security number. Make sense?
While there are other ways to apply, you can get your EIN free or charge, quick and easy directly through the IRS Website.
Step 5) Create A Business Bank Account
How familiar are you with the perks, bonuses, incentives, and advantages of business banking vs personal banking?
There are tons of options with local, state, and national banks/credit unions so make sure you take some time to research. Don’t just establish your brand's financials where you already conduct personal banking because they may not be ideal.
And another point, it’s essential that your brand’s finances are separate from any and all others. You should have a single branded stream funneling into your accounting software. If you're interested, this Checking Accounts article breaks down some of the basics.
Step 6) Draft An LLC Operating Agreement
It’s not mandatory or a legal requirement, but what it does is add a layer of safety for everyone involved (including the company) and lays out duties/responsibilities.
It also, “defines each member or manager’s rights, powers, and entitlements. This includes capital accounts, membership interest, distributions of profit and allocated tax responsibility, etc.” It’s about being professional and building structure into your goals.
To get started, check out this savvy list of Operating Agreement templates which you can customize yourself.
Step 7) Cover All LLC Taxes & Licenses/Permits
It's your responsibility to pay Rhode Island business taxes and handle licenses and permits. There are a number of them involved based on the kind of business you're in, among other considerations. To begin completing the requirements for business taxes, register online at the RI Division of Tax Online Registration Service.
Bookmark the Providence district office of the Small Business Administration, and the Rhode Island SBDC because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. If you need help with this step, consider professional Business License Research packages that can quickly source all needed documents for you and provide filing instructions.
Need Help Forming an LLC?
If you'd like help forming an LLC in Rhode Island, feel free to read our reviews of the two most popular services.