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.

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.   

Who needs to register?

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.

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 it cost to register?

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.

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

Name Restrictions

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.  

Protecting your business name

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Tennessee (only as a corporation or LLC – not as a sole proprietorship or partnership), 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 protecting a name with a trademark.  

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