Interested in starting a business in Rhode Island but not sure what business licenses are needed? This video will help entrepreneurs get their business licensed and registered and is a part of the How to Start a Business in Rhode Island video series. For more information and links on Rhode Island business licenses, check out

Topics include requirements for Rhode Island business licenses, how to get an EIN or Employer Identification Number, sales tax permits, professional licensing and local business licensing.

Starting a business in Rhode Island may require licenses or permits from a variety of several city, county, state and federal agencies. This video is a brief overview of the most common licenses, permits and registrations a business may need, but it may not include all of ones needed for your business. More detailed information and links to all of the agencies mentioned in this video are on

The first registration you may need to get is the employer identification number, sometimes known as an EIN with the Internal Revenue Service. This is a unique identification number for a business, much like what a social security number is for a person. Businesses that are required to register include sole proprietorships with employees, partnerships, corporations or LLCs. If you are a sole proprietorship with no employees, you can simply use your social security number. You can apply directly at and there is no cost to get the number. Getting the number takes only about 5 minutes and if you have questions, we have a video on how to apply for an EIN on our site.

Next, there is no general state business license in Rhode Island, but there are some industries that are required to register. A variety of businesses and professions in the state are regulated such as food related businesses, accountants, landscapers, auto body repair, brewpubs and many more.

Also at the state level, businesses selling products at retail and some services to obtain a Sales Tax Permit. Most services aren’t taxable, but some are. For more information about what is taxable and to register for the Sales Tax Number, visit the Rhode Island Division of Taxation.

Last, at the local level, some municipalities may require a business license or have requirements for certain professions, zoning, construction, signage, liquor licenses, etc.

Make sure your business secures all licenses in advance of finalizing a location as some will take some time to get approval. Finding the correct person to talk with in your community may take a few calls, but just start by contacting your town’s mayor, city hall or economic developer and let them know you plan on starting a business and if you need to register. Don’t be worried in calling as they want to help bring in new businesses since businesses bring jobs and tax revenue to the community.

If you liked this video, be sure to visit the other videos in our Starting a Business in Rhode Island video series. Other videos include:
Types of Business Organization in Rhode Island –
Registering a Business Name in Rhode Island –

In addition to these videos, has a lot of free resources to help you start your business. If you have questions, visit our site or ask questions in the comments and our team of business advisors will answer your questions at no cost!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here