How to Register a DBA in Tennessee

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Quick Reference

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 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 for a DBA.

The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, 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 Register of Deeds in the county where the business operates.

Corporations and Limited Liability Companies will register with the Secretary of State.  Partnerships are more likely to register a DBA.  If they are doing business under all of the owner’s full first and last names, they won’t have to register, however if they want to operate under a business name they will register.  Corporations and LLCs won’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.

Related: Difference between a sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Tennessee DBA Registration Form

Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships – Obtain the Form from the Register of Deeds in the county where the business is located.

Corporations and LLCs – Registration of Assumed Name https://sos.tn.gov/business-services/business-entity-filings

How much does a DBA cost in Tennessee?

The filing fee for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships to register their Assumed Name in Tennessee varies by county, it is typically under $20.

Corporations and LLCs file with the Secretary of State and pay $20.

Name registrations are good for 5 years and are renewable.

What are the steps to file a DBA in Tennessee?

Sole proprietorships & Partnerships

Step 1 – Obtain the Form
Contact the Register of Deeds in the county where the business is located to obtain the form.

Step 2 – Fill out the Form
Information requested on the form includes:

    • Assumed name being registered
    • Physical address of the business
    • Name and address of the business owners

Step 3 – Notarize the Form
Before signing the form, be sure to have a notary to witness the signing of the documents.  Most Register of Deeds offices offer notary services at no cost.

 Step 4 – Submit the Form
Submit the filing fee and form.

Save Time & Hassles

LegalZoom offers an inexpensive online DBA registration service that will let you skip the trip to the Register of Deed’s office and register your business name in just one step.

Learn more

 

Corporations & LLCs

Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
A business may not register a 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
Information requested on the Application for Registration of Assumed Name includes:

    • 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:

Department of State
Corporation Filings
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave
6th Floor, William R. Snodgrass Tower
Nashville, TN 37243

Are there any words you can’t use in a DBA?

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.

Can someone steal my business name?

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Tennessee, it does very little from someone else operating a business under that name in other states. If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark.

Learn more about trademarking a business name.

Related: What is the difference between a trademark, copyright, and patent?

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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