How to obtain a business license in Rhode Island

Updated on December 21, 2023


Properly licensing your business is crucial when operating in Rhode Island. This comprehensive guide covers who needs licenses, types available, application process, costs, documents required, maintaining compliance, and special considerations for industries in Rhode Island.

Who Needs a Business License in Rhode Island?

Nearly all commercial business entities require licensing in RI including retailers, restaurants, contractors, consultants, healthcare providers, tradespeople, and independent professionals.

Penalties for non-compliance include potential business closure after multiple offenses. Willful unlicensed operations can also result in criminal prosecution.

Understanding Rhode Island Business Licenses

Common Rhode Island licenses needed:

Preparing to Apply for a License

First, identify the permits, registrations, and licenses required for your business activities and locations using Rhode Island’s Easybiz tool.

You’ll need ownership IDs, formation documents, commercial property lease agreements, financial statements, and more. Fees vary based on obligations.

Step-By-Step Guide to Apply

Rhode Island offers simplified online license applications. To apply digitally:

  1. Access Rhode Island’s Easybiz portal
  2. Use the Licenses & Permits tool
  3. Select your required license types
  4. Provide requested business and owner details
  5. Pay fees
  6. Obtain approvals

After Submitting an Application

Online applications typically process within 14 days. Check your status via the Easybiz dashboard.

If issues occur, administrators contact applicants by phone or email to resolve concerns.

Maintaining Compliance

To remain legally compliant in Rhode Island once approved:

  • Display licenses prominently at your place of business
  • Renew licenses annually prior to expiration
  • Remit timely tax and licensing fee payments
  • Maintain necessary insurance policies
  • Report changes in ownership, activities, locations

Obtaining Federal Registrations

Typical federal registrations also needed include Employer ID Number (EIN) and trademark protections.

Special Considerations

Special licensing rules exist for liquor stores, casinos, tourism companies, commercial builders, CPAs, and more depending on locations and business activities.

Registering Your Business Name

File assumed business name (DBA) certificates at the municipal level via City/Town Hall.

Rhode Island Tax Permits

Common tax permits/licenses include Sales Tax Permits, Lodging Establishment Licenses, Alcoholic Beverage Licenses, and more.


Who Needs a Rhode Island Business License?

Most commercial business entities need licenses to legally operate, including retailers, restaurants, contractors, consultants, healthcare professionals, etc. Some exceptions for sole proprietors.

What Do Licenses Cost in Rhode Island?

Costs typically range $25 to $350 depending on the number and type of licenses your business requires. Multiyear savings and renewal discounts sometimes available. Check state fee listings.

Final Thoughts

Properly licensing your Rhode Island business keeps you legally compliant and avoids penalties. Leverage available online filing options whenever possible to expedite processing.

Priyank Singh

Priyank Singh, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Stilt, specializes in technology-driven financial solutions. He is having experience of starting FinTech Company, understanding regulations and coming up with creative solutions to solve difficult problems.