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Tennessee DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

Tennessee DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

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Tennessee DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

If you’re planning to start a business in Tennessee under a name other than your own, you will need to register for a business name. Business name registration is commonly referred to as a Tennessee DBA, “Doing Business As,” or Fictitious Name, but is officially referred to as an Assumed Name. 

To see if you need to register for a Tennessee Assumed Name and steps on how to register, check out our guide.

Related: How to start a business in Tennessee 

Who Needs to Register for a Tennessee Assumed Business Name?

The requirements and need to register a Tennessee Assumed Business Name vary depending on the type of business entity.

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common business structure to register for a Tennessee DBA. By default, the name of a sole proprietorship and general partnership is the owner(s) legal name, but if the small business owner wants to operate under a specific name, they will need to complete the Assumed Name registration.

The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s own name(s), which can be used without registering. For example, if Rebecca Jones starts a cupcake business and operates under the name Rebecca Jones, she doesn’t need to register. However, if she decides to name her business Rebecca’s Yummy Cupcakes, she will need to register the business name.

Related: How to start a sole proprietorship in Tennessee

A corporation, Limited Liability Company, Limited Liability Partnership, or Limited Partnership won’t typically register for a Tennessee DBA since a unique entity name is created during the business entity formation process. However, some will want to register for a DBA if they have another business or brand name they want to operate in addition to the legal name of the business. This can allow multiple businesses to operate with the liability protection of a Tennessee corporation or Limited Liability Company without having to form another entity. 

What are the steps to file a DBA in Tennessee?

Sole proprietorships & Partnerships

Step 1: Register for a Business Tax License

In Tennessee, sole proprietors complete their DBA registration through a Business Tax Application. Depending on the county, there might be a specific application, but most counties will use the state Business Tax Registration Application. You’ll need to submit this to the county where your business is located.

Once the business tax registration is filed, the next step is to register the business name. To get the paperwork showing your Sole Proprietorship’s Assumed Name, you will show the filed tax registration to the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the business is located.

You can find a complete list of county clerks using the Tennessee Department of Revenue website.

Step 2: Fill out the Form

Information requested on the form includes:

  • Type of entity
  • Assumed name being registered
  • The physical address of the business
  • Name and address of the business owners

Step 3: Submit the Form

The form can be submitted in person or online in most counties.

If you would prefer to have a someone else research DBA name availability and file the required forms, Bizee and LegalZoom offer a DBA registration service for $99, plus state fees.

Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships, and Limited Partnerships

Step 1: Verify Name Availability

A corporation or LLC may not register a DBA name that is the same or similar to another business in Tennessee. To find out if you name you want is available, do a Tennessee business name search on the Tennessee Secretary of State website. 

Step 2: Fill out the Form

The Registration of Assumed Name form is located on the Tennessee Secretary of State website.

Information requested on the Application for Registration of Assumed Name includes:

  • The current legal name of the business entity
  • State of formation
  • Assumed name being registered

Step 3: Submit the Form

Submit the filing fee and form to the Tennessee Secretary of State.  If mailing, send to:

Tennessee Division of Business Services
Department of State
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave
6th Floor, William R. Snodgrass Tower
Nashville, TN 37243

Tennessee Assumed Name FAQs

How much does a Tennessee DBA cost?

The filing fee for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships to register their Assumed Name is built into their business license and will cost $20.

If your business has already filed for a Minimal Activity License or Standard Business License, the Application for Renewal form can be submitted to the County Clerk where the business is located to select a DBA name.

Corporations and LLCs file with the Secretary of State and will pay $20 for each DBA.

Name registrations are good for 5 years and are renewable by submitting the Application for Renewal form.

Are there any restrictions when picking a DBA name?

DBAs can’t be registered using words related to banking, such as “bank,” “credit union,” “savings,” etc., unless the business is licensed to provide those services.

Words that refer to governmental agencies such as FBI, Treasury, and Justice Department can’t be used.

Also, unless the business is organized as or affiliated with a fraternal, veterans, service, religious, charitable, or professional organization, it may not use these terms in their name.

What is the difference between a Tennessee Assumed Name and a business license?

These are actually two different business registrations. In addition to the Tennessee Trade Name registration, most businesses will also need a business license. The licenses a business will need vary depending on what the business does and local registration requirements.

Related: What business licenses are needed in Tennessee?

How long does it take to process the Tennessee DBA application?

For sole proprietorships and partnerships, the DBA is active upon registering at the county County Clerk’s office.

Corporations and LLCs typically take 3-5 business days for the Secretary of State to process the paperwork.

Does a DBA need an EIN?

An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique nine-digit number that some businesses will register for through the Internal Revenue Department (IRS). An EIN is required for partnerships, corporations, multi-member LLCs, or any business that has employees.

Sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs without employees can use the owner’s social security number to identify the business.
There is no cost to get an EIN when registering directly from the IRS.

Related: How to register for an EIN in Tennessee

Tennessee DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

Tennessee DBA / Trade Name Registration In 3 Easy Steps

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