The first step to forming an LLC in Rhode Island is to search your desired LLC name and make sure it’s available for use.
Your Rhode Island LLC name must be unique and must follow certain state requirements.
Rhode Island LLC Name Requirements
Before doing a business entity search for your LLC name in Rhode Island, there are a few requirements you need to know.
1. The abbreviations “LLC” or “L.L.C.” must be used at the end of your Rhode Island LLC name. The abbreviation “LLC” is the most common.
2. Because a Rhode Island LLC is not a Corporation, your desired LLC name cannot use the word “Corporation”, “Incorporated,” or the abbreviations “Corp.” or “Inc.”.
3. Your desired LLC name must be distinguishable. This means it must be different and unique from all other businesses registered in Rhode Island.
Differences in designators (the identifiers at the end of a business name) and differences in grammar do not create distinguishability.
- LLC, L.L.C, Inc., Corp.
- singular, plural, and possessive
- A, An, The
- and, or, &
- hyphens, slashes, periods, commas
- three vs. 3
The following examples are NOT distinguishable:
- Smith Investments, LLC vs. Smith Investments, Inc.
- Apple Farm, LLC vs. Apple Farms, LLC
- Print Shop, LLC vs. The Print Shop, LLC
- Night & Day, LLC vs. Night and Day, LLC
- Peter Paul & Mary Studios, LLC vs. Peter-Paul-Mary Studios, Inc
- Three Teachers Consulting, LLC vs. 3 Teachers Consulting, LLC
Rhode Island SOS Business Entity Search
Once you understand the LLC name requirements in RI, the next step is to search your desired LLC name via the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s business entity search.
1. Visit the Rhode Island name database:
Go to the Rhode Island Business Records Search page: http://ucc.state.ri.us/CorpSearch/CorpSearchInput.asp
2. Search your RI LLC name:
Select “Search by Entity Name”, enter your desired Rhode Island LLC name in the “Name” box, and click the “Search” button. For “Type of Search”, you can leave the default “Begins with” selected. You can leave all the other fields as-is.
Tip: At the bottom of the page, change the display search results to 150 instead of the default 25 to maximize your search results.
- Leave out the designator (“LLC”, “L.L.C.”, etc.) and leave out any punctuation.
- Capitalization doesn’t matter. You can search in uppercase or lowercase.
- To be thorough, just enter the first word or two of your LLC name to ensure you see everything that is potentially similar. (Ex: if your desired Rhode Island LLC name is “Johnny Apple Farm LLC”, just enter “johnny apple”).
- To be even more thorough, just enter a part of the first word. (Ex: if your desired Rhode Island LLC name is “Printing Solutions LLC”, just enter “print”).
3. Browse the RI business entity results:
Click the “Search” button and browse the list of existing Rhode Island businesses:
- If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your desired Rhode Island LLC name is available for use.
- If a “No Records Matched Your Begins With Search for Entity Name” message appears, that means your desired Rhode Island LLC name is unique and available for use.
- If your desired LLC name appears in the list exactly as you want it, your desired Rhode Island LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation.
- If the results show a name that is deceptively similar to yours, your desired Rhode Island LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation.
Tip: If you’re not 100% sure if your desired Rhode Island LLC name is distinguishable, you can still file your paperwork with the state. If your name is not available, the Rhode Island Secretary of State will send back your filing and let you know that the name needs to be changed. If you don’t want to waste time though, you can also contact the RI Secretary of State below.
Important: Do not apply for your Federal Tax ID Number (EIN) until your Rhode Island LLC is approved. Also, do not purchase a domain name, business cards, letterhead, signs, marketing materials, etc., until the Rhode Island Secretary of State approves your LLC.
Once you find a Rhode Island LLC name that is unique and distinguishable, you’re ready to select your LLC’s Registered Agent. We’ll discuss this in the next lesson: Rhode Island LLC Registered Agent.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.
Rhode Island Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the Rhode Island Secretary of State at 401-222-3040 (Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm).