Start Your Non-Profit Corporation
According to R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 7-6, non-profit corporations should register with the RI Department of State. Registering with our office is separate from becoming a tax exempt organization with the Internal Revenue Service. Follow the steps below to start and register your non-profit in Rhode Island.
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Gather required information
Name of Non-Profit
Check name availability by using the Corporate Database. For more information on name availability, please visit the RI Department of State Name Availability Guidelines.
A registered agent is an individual or entity that receives official and legal documents on behalf of a business.
The agent must be a Rhode Island resident or an entity qualified to do business in this state.
Registered Agent Address
A registered agent must have a Rhode Island street address and must be available at the given address during normal business hours to accept service of process. P.O. Boxes or shipping/postal company addresses (including virtual business addresses) do not meet this standard and are not allowed.
Different non-profit structures have different tax liabilities. Refer to our non-profit structures chart to learn more.
Register your non-profit corporation
Please note that once you register a non-profit, the organization will be automatically exempt from RI income tax. The organization will not; however, be automatically exempt from federal income tax. If the non-profit plans to apply for federal tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status, the IRS requires that the Articles of Incorporation form (below) includes a valid exempt purpose and dissolution clause. We recommend you review the IRS suggested language for guidance.
Rhode Island Non-Profit CorporationStarting in Rhode Island
Foreign Non-Profit CorporationAlready operating outside of Rhode Island
Foreign non-profit corporations must first obtain a certificate of good standing the state or country in which it is incorporated, dated within 60 days of the date of filing. Use our interactive map to find out where to order the required certificate. If you intend to register your entity online, be sure to have a scanned PDF of the certificate of good standing/legal existence ready for upload.
Confirm your filing
Before proceeding to Step 4, be sure to confirm your registration filing was accepted. Your filing may take between one to three business days to process.
Get Federal Employer Identification Number
Your EIN is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your non-profit.
Get Federal EIN
Apply for Federal Tax Exempt Status
Remember, once you register a non-profit with the RI Department of State, the organization will be automatically exempt from RI state income tax. However, if the organization wishes to also be exempt from federal income tax, it must apply for recognition as a federally exempt organization (such as a 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization) with the IRS, or it will be federally taxed as a for-profit business corporation. You can find step-by-step instructions for applying for federal income tax exempt status on IRS.gov. Please note that federal tax exemption only applies to income tax. Your non-profit will still be responsible for paying other types of taxes.
Report Beneficial Ownership Information to FinCEN (if applicable)
Beginning January 1, 2024, most entities created in or registered to do business in the United States must report information about their beneficial owners—the persons who ultimately control the company—to the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Additional information about the reporting requirements, including answers to questions such as “is my company required to report beneficial ownership information to FinCEN,” “who is a beneficial owner,” and “when do I need to report my company’s beneficial ownership information" is available on FinCEN’s beneficial ownership information webpage, FinCEN.gov/BOI.
Tax-exempt entities are not required to report this information to FinCEN; however, non-profit corporations must take additional steps after registration to apply for recognition as a federally tax-exempt entity. Tax exempt status (such as 501(c)(3)) is not automatically awarded at the time of registration with the RI Department of State.
Beneficial ownership reports should only be submitted directly to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at FinCEN.gov/BOI.