You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Rhode LLC, and you’re mentally prepared to make it happen.
But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Certificate of Formation.
With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Certificate of Formation is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in Rhode. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Rhode LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.
But before you dive into the Certificate of Formation, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.
Choosing an LLC Name
Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Articles of Organization, and if the Secretary of State deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.
Don’t use a name on your Articles of Organization, tax paperwork, billboards, business cards, or anything else until you’ve confirmed that it meets the state’s conditions. Your name must indicate the company’s business type by using the words “Limited Liability Company” or the upper/lowercase abbreviation “L.L.C.,” either with or without punctuation. Further, you cannot claim a name that’s already in use elsewhere. Perform a name search to determine if your name is distinguishable and available.
Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Articles of Organization to automatically register it. In the event that you’re not quite ready to file an LLC, you can place a 120-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.
Choosing a Rhode Island Resident Agent
A resident agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. Every Rhode Island LLC must maintain a valid resident agent at all times. No one gets off the hook. And that’s because the agent serves a very important role.
Like the LLC name, Rhode Island has some broad, albeit non-negotiable, requirements for your resident agent. Whoever you appoint must be an individual Rhode Island resident with a physical in-state address, or a business entity authorized to do business in the state like a resident agent service. Fail to include a valid agent and your Articles of Organization will be rejected
Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your resident agent in the future.
Preparing to File Your Rhode Island Articles of Organization
Now for the main event: the Articles of Organization. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in Rhode Island.
Considering how crucial this document is to your LLC formation process, it’s brevity and simplicity may come as a surprise. And you can further streamline the process by gathering all the necessary information beforehand. Here’s what the form requires:
- The LLC name
- Resident agent name and office address
- The LLC’s tax classification (partnership, corporation, or disregarded)
- Principal office address
- Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers
- If manager-managed, the name and address of each manager
- If applicable, the delayed effective date (up to 90 days following the filing)
- The name, address, and signature of an authorized person
- The filer’s contact information, including street address, email address, and phone number.
And let’s not forget about payment. Unfortunately, the Articles of Organization isn’t free; it costs $150, so have a credit card or check ready to go when you file.
Regardless of which filing option you choose, your Articles of Organization will be processed the same day it’s received.
Once you’ve completed the Articles of Organization and lined up your $150 payment, it’s time to submit everything. You can file online, by mail, or in person.
Take care of the entire process electronically using the Secretary of State’s Online Filing System. This option requires an additional $6 service fee.
Hard Copy Filing
Download and fill out the paper application. Then either mail or hand-deliver it, along with your payment, to:
Division of Business Services
148 W. River Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02904-2615
Congratulations! You’ve finished the Articles of Organization. As long as it’s accepted, your LLC will be authorized to do business in no time.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Rhode Island), but what if your business is expanding to Rhode Island from another state? Put away the Articles of Organization. You won’t need it.
Instead, you must foreign qualify your LLC by filing an Application for Registration. Until you’ve successfully foreign qualified, refrain from performing any business activities in Rhode Island. Doing so can lead to serious consequences, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
But after you’ve filed the form and received authority to do business in the state, go right ahead!
Want Help Filing Your Articles of Organization?
Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.
The good news is that you don’t need to file the Articles of Organization yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.
There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.
While each service has optional upgrades and perks packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the Rhode Island Secretary of State. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization has been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.
There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free resident agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents (like Annual Reports), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.
Which is the Best LLC Service?
All you need to do now is research every service extensively and make side-by-side comparisons for each option. Easy, right? Just kidding – we did all of that for you.
And from our meticulous research of reviewing and ranking the top LLC services, we’ve drawn the conclusion that IncFile and Northwest are your best overall options.
They might not have the brand recognition of LegalZoom, the industry giant, but both have amazing customer support, affordable prices, and include a year of resident agent service.