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How To Do A Tennessee Business Name Search

How To Do A Tennessee Business Name Search

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How To Do A Tennessee Business Name Search

Starting a business in Tennessee involves several steps, but one of the first is choosing a business name. This step is a little more complicated when setting up an LLC or corporation in Tennessee because these business structures must have a unique name. 

To help you verify that your corporation or LLC is available to use, our step-by-step guide will show you how to quickly do a Tennessee business name search using the Tennessee Secretary of State business name database.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Tennessee

Step 1: Visit the Tennessee Secretary of State Business Name Database

Go to the Tennessee Secretary of State website.

Step 2: Search for a Business Name

Enter the name you would like to use.  In this example, we will do a Tennessee LLC name search by looking up “Acme.” Enter your name and click “Search.”  

How To Do A Tennessee Business Name Search

Step 3: Review the Results

Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Acme.”  To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Tennessee, the name must be distinguishable from the other names registered. If you were looking to form an LLC with this name, you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.

Tennessee Business Entity Search

To find more information about any of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Control #” column to see a detailed report.

Tennessee LLC Name Search Details

While the name “Acme” by itself may not be available, other variants are such as “Acme Movers.”  Searching for those business names brings a result that says, “No Matches Found.”  Even if the name looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will do their own search to avoid confusing potential customers with a business name that sounds like someone else’s.  Typically words that sound alike but are spelled differently, and even abbreviations will make names show up as available but won’t be approved.

Tennessee Business Name Availability

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Tennessee.  Even when the name of the business you want looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will make a final determination at the time of filing to ensure the name you picked isn’t too similar to other registered names. 

Also, keep in mind that even though each Corporation and LLC name must be unique, it may not stop someone else from using that name since business names for a sole proprietorship or partnership are not registered by the Tennessee Secretary of State and are not required to be unique. To protect your business name, consider getting a trademark.

Related: Should I trademark my business name?

What information can be looked up?

The Tennessee business entity search can find several pieces of information about a registered business in the state. Some of the highlights include:

  • Business Name
  • Status: Active means the entity is in good standing, and all reports and filing fees are up to date. If the status is “Inactive,” the names of these results may be available to register.
  • Principal Office: This could be the business’s physical address, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
  • Registered Agent Information:Tennessee Registered Agent is the singular point of contact for the entity should a legal or tax notice need to be sent to the business. This agent is often one of the owners, and if their home address is used, that address becomes public information. Many people find this concerning and use a Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent, so their home address isn’t publicly listed. 
  • Annual Report Filing: Date the annual report was filed
  • A Certificate of Existence can also be ordered to prove the status of the entity.

Tennessee Business Name Search FAQs

How do I find a name for a Tennessee sole proprietorship?

Unlike corporations and LLCs in Tennessee, the names of Tennessee sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not listed on the state database. Instead, they are registered with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the business is located. 

Registering a name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership requires filing a Tennessee Assumed Name (often referred to as a DBA or Doing Business As name) with the County Clerk. 

How do I set up an LLC in Tennessee?

Before starting your business and forming an LLC, be sure to do the business entity search first to make sure the name is available to use.  Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form a Tennessee LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.

While not required in Tennessee, an LLC Operating Agreement, which contains the rules for how the LLC operates, is a document worth considering, especially for multi-member LLCs.

Also, be sure to register for any Tennessee business licenses and possibly obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to ensure the business is legal to operate.

What are the requirements to name an LLC in Tennessee?

In addition to being unique, the LLC’s name must include a special designator such as Limited Liability Company, LLC, L.L.C., etc., and it may not use restricted words such as bank or insurance unless the entity is licensed to operate as such.

Can an LLC name be reserved?

If there is a name you want to use but aren’t ready to form the LLC, the Application for Reservation of Name (Form SS-4228) can be filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State to hold the name for up to 4 months.

How To Do A Tennessee Business Name Search

How To Do A Tennessee Business Name Search

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