Address Confidentiality Program
Address Confidentiality Program
The goal of the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP/Program) is to help victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and trafficking and/or abuse as defined by RI Gen. Laws §42-164-2 who have relocated or are about to relocate, in their effort to keep persons who have committed domestic violence or abuse or who threaten the applicant or the applicant’s child or ward with domestic violence or abuse from finding them.
The Program has two components: a substitute address service and a protected records service. These services limit a perpetrator’s ability to access public information that could identify the new location of a victim who is in the Program. This is not a witness protection program; rather, it is a mail forwarding service.
Substitute Address Service
Participants are given the Program’s Providence-based Post Office Box (PO Box) address for their use. The substitute address has no relation to the participant’s actual address. All participants use the same PO Box as designated by the Program. First-class mail and service of process is sent to the PO Box and then forwarded, at no cost, to the participant’s actual location.
Participants can use the substitute address when creating records with state or local government agencies. Program participants can vote, obtain a driver’s license, get married, and register births without disclosing their actual residence location to the abusive perpetrator.
Potential applicants should ensure they can manage with a 2-5-day mail delay to allow for mail forwarding.
To be eligible for the Program, an applicant must be a victim of domestic violence and/or abuse and meet all the following conditions:
- be a resident of Rhode Island
- fear for their safety or their children’s or ward’s safety
- reside at or will reside at a location in Rhode Island that is not known by the person who committed domestic violence or abuse, or threatens the applicant or the applicant’s child or ward with domestic violence or abuse
- agree to not disclose their actual address to the person who committed domestic violence or abuse, or threatens the applicant or the applicant’s child or ward with domestic violence or abuse
- be willing to designate the Department of State as their agent to receive legal documents and first-class mail
The Rhode Island Department of State (the Department) will review the properly completed application and certify an applicant as a Program participant for five years. The Program participant will receive notification from the Department that will include an identification number. The identification number is unique to each Program participant. When using the substitute address, the identification number must be included in the address. Because mail from all participants comes to the same PO Box, the identification number is an important identifying item and helps to expedite the mail forwarding process.
- Once accepted into the Program, participants should use the substitute address when creating records and accessing services with state and local government agencies.
- Participants are required to notify the Department of any changes in name, address, or phone number to remain in the Program. Failure to notify the Department of any changes may result in removal from the Program.
- Failure to promptly notify the Department of changes to the applicant's contact information, including address, email address and telephone number, may cause a delay in the applicant's receipt of legal documents, including notices of upcoming court hearings for divorce, child custody, or criminal matters, which may result in negative legal ramifications for the applicant, including a possible default for failure to respond to court papers.
At the end of the five-year period, participants will be notified that they can be removed from the Program or that they can renew the address.
Removal from the Program
If the victim no longer meets the eligibility requirements or wishes to be removed from the Program, they may update the Program by email or mail.
Government Agency Responsibilities
State and local government agencies must accept the substitute address for any public record unless the agency has received prior approval from the Department for a waiver or statutory exception. Agency employees may request verification of Program participation by asking for the participant’s identification number. The participant’s identification number is not a legal form of identification.
If you have any issues with a governmental agency accepting the substitute address, you may contact [email protected] or 401-222-5149.
How to Apply
Click here to download the application
Applications should be sent to:
Department of State
PO Box 6888
Providence, RI 02940
Applicants can contact the Department by email, phone, or in-person for help filling out the application. For assistance, please email [email protected] or call 401-222-5149. For in-person assistance, you can visit 148 W. River St., Providence. Office hours are Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
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