Part of starting a business is deciding what to call it. If you pick one that doesn't have your name in it, Tennessee requires you to register it as a "doing business as" name. It's also known as an assumed name, trade name or alias. This requires filing an assumed name application with the county, state or both depending on your business structure.
Tennessee requires sole proprietorships to register business DBA names with their local county government. This is typically done with the Register of Deeds office in the county where the business operates. For example, in Rutherford County, you must file a Certificate of Assumed Name form. The form, which may have different titles in other counties, asks for the DBA and owner's name, business type and address. Return the signed and notarized form to the register's office along with filing fee.
Other Business Types
Tennessee requires partnerships, limited liability companies and corporations to register with the Secretary of State. If the business operates under a name other than the one listed on your registration documents, you must file an Application for Registration of Assumed Name. The forms are available on the SOS website. For example, if your business name is registered as Rice Krispy Goodness but you interact with customers as Tasty Treats, you must register Tasty Treats as a DBA name.
Secretary of State Filing Procedure
File the registration form specific to your business structure with the Secretary of State. If your business is a corporation, for example, you must file an Application for Registration of Assumed Corporate Name. If it's a LLC, you must file an Application for Registration of Assumed Limited Liability Company Name. The SOS does not require these forms to be notarized. Mail the completed form and a filing fee to Corporate Filings, 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 6th Floor, William R. Snodgrass Tower, Nashville, TN 37243. The filing fee was $20, as of 2015. You must also file a Certificate of Assumed Name in the county where the business operates under its DBA name.
Since Tennessee requires that all business names be unique, contact the county register to see if the one you want is in use. Many registers, like Wake County Register of Deeds, provide online access to their database. The Secretary of State also makes its database available online.
The DBA is not an issue if the business title includes the person's legal name. For example, if Carly Love has a shoe store named Cinderella's Shoes, this is a DBA name. However, if she calls it Carly Love's Shoe Shop, it is not.
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Register Your Business Name
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Sole Proprietorship
- Rutherford County: Instructions for Filing Certificate of Assumed Name
- Rutherford County: Certificate of Assumed Name for a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Partnership
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Choose Your Business Structure
- Tennessee Secretary of State: Corporation FAQs
- Tennessee Secretary of State: Business Entity Filings
- Tennessee Secretary of State: Limited Liability Company Fee Schedule
- Tennessee Secretary of State: For Profit Corporation Fee Schedule
- Tennessee Secretary of State: Limited Partnership Fee Schedule
- Tennessee Secretary of State: Filing Guide - Limited Liability Partnerships
- Tennessee Secretary of State: Business Name Availability Guidelines