One of the most important parts of any business is its name. Your limited liability company’s name is your first impression with prospective clients, whether they hear about your business by word of mouth, drive past a billboard advertising your business on the freeway, or if they stumble upon your business as a result of a Google search.
One way to change your business name — or to add an additional name that your LLC can use interchangeably — is by filing a “doing business as” name application, commonly known as a DBA. There are many reasons to get a DBA — from marketing a new product line to granting a sole proprietorship the ability to use an assumed name — so this article will walk you through the process of registering a DBA for your Rhode Island LLC.
A solid name goes a long way in establishing your brand in customers’ minds. Doing Business As (DBA) names give you increased customization, flexibility, and versatility with your business identity. Once you're ready to lock it down, have ZenBusiness file all the paperwork.
Alternatively, if you’d rather just setup an LLC, we have a special discount running and will do it for $0 + state fee ($79 less than LegalZoom).
What Is a DBA?
To begin, let’s quickly run down what exactly a DBA is. One point of confusion we often hear about is that a DBA is not a business entity, like an LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, general partnership, etc. Instead, you can think of a DBA as an add-on feature of sorts.
The DBA allows you to create alternate business names for your entity, which you can then use interchangeably with your LLC’s official business name. In addition, for informal business entities that don’t have exclusive business names (like sole proprietorships and general partnerships), a DBA can be a great way to inject some additional professionalism into a business venture.
But let’s talk strictly about LLCs, shall we? Why would an LLC want an additional business name? There are several potential reasons, although they obviously vary considerably depending on what your business does. One popular reason is to differentiate a new product line from a company’s existing offerings.
Let’s say that you own a business called “Fine Footwear, LLC” that produces high-end shoes. If you decide to also start a new product line that sells inexpensive flip-flop sandals, you might want a way to differentiate this brand from your core business. In this circumstance, you could register a DBA for “Flip-Flops by Fine Footwear,” and you can use this name to market your new products, while your original product line remains unaffected if your sandal side business fails.
It could also be helpful if you decide to expand your local business into a new market. For instance, if you own a Rhode Island-based plumbing business called “Providence Plumbing,” and you want to expand beyond Providence, you can register a DBA for “Newport Plumbing” and use that name in the Newport market.The state of Rhode Island includes more protections for DBA names than most states do because, in most states, there is no exclusivity for a DBA. If another business decides that they want to use your DBA as their own name, many states allow them to do just that. However, this state provides more legal protection than most. In fact, Rhode Island requires that all DBA names must be distinguishable from any official or fictitious business name registered in this state.
How to Get a DBA for a Rhode Island LLC
First off, we’ll note that Rhode Island typically refers to DBAs as “fictitious business names,” but for the purposes of this article, we’ll continue to use both terms interchangeably because most states use the term “DBA.”
The process for obtaining a DBA in Rhode Island begins with a search of the state’s business database to ensure that the fictitious name you want to register is available. Once you’ve determined the name’s eligibility, you can move on to fill out the Fictitious Business Name Statement.
This document requires the following information: your LLC’s Rhode Island entity ID number, the exact official name of your LLC, the fictitious name you’re registering, the jurisdiction where you originally formed your LLC, the date you formed your LLC, the location of your registered office, a brief description of the nature of your business, your name, your signature, and the date. You should also fill out the attached Filer Contact Information form which gives the state a means to contact you if they need any further information.
When you’re ready to file this form, you can submit it to the Department of State online, by mail, or by hand. Regardless of your filing method, this document has a $50 fee. You can expect the state to process your dissolution within 7-10 business days, unless you drop your documents off in person, in which case they will be processed the same day.
To be honest, we often say that entrepreneurs shouldn’t bother with DBAs because they don’t provide any exclusivity for your business name. However, Rhode Island actually does a solid job in this regard compared to most states.
Rhode Island’s pledge to provide name exclusivity for any trade name registered here makes the DBA an interesting proposition in this state, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this option to any of our readers.
If you’re looking for a new way to market your LLC in Rhode Island, a DBA isn’t a bad idea.
Get a DBA for an LLC in all States
We break down the DBA filing process in every state. View all of our guides below.