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How to Register a DBA in Tennessee [2022]

Overview

How to Register a DBA in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a business operating under a fictitious name may want to register a DBA.  Learn more about what a DBA is, who needs one and how to register.

Related: How to start a business in Tennessee 

What is a DBA?

A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As,” Trade Name, Assumed Name, or Fictitious Name, is a name used by a business that is different from the legal name of the business.

What is a DBA good for?

A DBA is required for many businesses in order to legally operate and provides information on the people operating a business.  In addition to the legal requirement, a DBA offers other benefits such as proving the existence of a business, opening a business bank account under a business name, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.

Who needs to register for a Tennessee DBA?

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

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register a DBA.

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 John Smith starts a business repairing computers operating under John Smith, he doesn’t need to register.  If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair, then he will need to register.

Tennessee requires sole proprietorships and partnerships to register their Trade Name with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the business operates.

Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships, and Limited Partnerships will register with the Tennessee Secretary of State.  Corporations and LLCs don’t typically register a fictitious name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process.  Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to operate under their corporate/LLC umbrella to keep the liability protection without having to form another entity.

How much does a DBA cost in Tennessee?

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.

What are the steps to file a DBA in Tennessee?

Sole proprietorships & Partnerships

Step 1: Register for a Business Tax License

To register for a DBA in Tennessee, a Business Tax License application has to be filed with 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, Swyft Filings, MyCompanyWorks, 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.

Names can be searched on the Secretary of State’s website.  Learn how to do a business name search in Tennessee.

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 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

Does Tennessee require a DBA?

A DBA is required for any business operating in Tennessee under a name that is different than the legal name of its owners.

Are there any restrictions when picking a DBA name?

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banking with words 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.

Do I need a state business license in Tennessee?

The DBA is different from a business license. Learn more about Tennessee business licenses.

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

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