What is a DBA?
If a business wants to operate with a name that is different from the name used to form the business, it may register the new name (called a trade name). This is often called filing for a DBA, or doing business as. For example, if “Frank’s Hot Dogs LLC” wants to do business as “Best Hot Dogs in Town” then the owners may have to file a DBA.
When you need a DBA
Although filing a DBA is not mandatory in Rhode Island, there are some important considerations that a business should consider when deciding whether to register.
For example, failure to register could have implications for a business' ability to maintain standing in a court of law in Rhode Island. This is because contracts that a company has entered into using the assumed name are not enforceable in a Rhode Island court until the trade name has been registered. This is not to say that those contracts are not enforceable elsewhere (and perhaps certain provisions in the contract would allow a business to altogether avoid the Rhode Island court system) but given the relatively low cost and potentially high reward associated with filing, it is probably better to reduce this risk and file for a DBA before entering into contracts using that name.
Furthermore, DBAs can be useful for opening bank accounts and transacting with businesses and consumers in the State of Rhode Island.
Setting up a DBA in Rhode Island
Setting up a DBA in Rhode Island begins by searching the state business name database to find out whether the name you want is already registered. Businesses should not only avoid a name that is not distinguishable from a name found on the Secretary of State's records, but also names that might be deemed deceptive or fraudulent, such as names that situate the corporation to be posing as a governmental agency, as a different company, or as an entity type that it is not, e.g. incorporating "Inc." when the entity is not a corporation.
Rhode Island DBA forms
To file for a DBA, filers can go to the Secretary of State website for more information, or can go directly to the website for filing located here.
Rhode Island DBA filing & registration
Filers must provide the proposed name of the entity to be registered, the current name and address of the applicant entity, contact information, and the necessary authorization by an officer of the entity in question.
Getting a trade name registered by filing a DBA doesn’t change how your company is taxed.
If you want to file a DBA in Rhode Island, LegalZoom can help. We can prepare and file the paperwork, search for available business names, and get you in touch with a business attorney to answer specific questions about your company.