Do you want to file a DBA in Tennessee and want to know the requirements? If YES, here are 5 steps on how to register a DBA for an LLC or Corporation. In the United States, every business has a legal name. For instance, a partnership or sole proprietorship can use the legal name of the business owner or owners. A corporation, limited liability company (LLC) or other type of business entity can use the name defined in the articles of incorporation or articles of organization.

However, sometimes a business may not want to operate under the registered legal name. There are countless reasons why it can happen. For instance, the legal name might be confusing, unconnected to your business, or no longer comprehensive for the business. Or the owners just want a new name without changing the business incorporation or registration documents.

Note that any business done under a name different from the legal name of your business is called an ‘assumed name’, ‘fictitious business name’, or ‘trade name’. Legally, it’s called a doing business as name (DBA).

How Many DBA Can You Register in Tennessee?

Generally, in the United States, you can operate your business under as many DBA names as you want – there are no limits. But, each DBA name is expected to be registered in the state where you operate. This is mandatory because the public has a legal right to know that a particular person or legal entity is conducting a business under a name that differs from its legal name.

Under Tennessee law, DBAs are available principally to corporations; LLCs, LPs and LLPs. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are expected to operate under the name of the proprietor or names of the partners.

Hence, most county offices in Tennessee will assist a smaller company that wants to operate under a different name while avoiding both consumer confusion and potential legal liability. Even if it is not mandatory, registering a different name with a DBA allows the company to open bank accounts in the new name, write contracts with the name, and otherwise conduct business using the trade name.

However, when choosing a name, have it in mind that Tennessee prohibits a corporate name that implies that a company transacts business for which authorization is required but for which the company has no such direct authorization. For example, you can’t name a business something that implies it performs engineering services when, in fact, the owners aren’t licensed engineers.

The state also prohibits names that imply false affiliations with fraternal, veterans’, service, religious, charitable, or professional organizations unless those affiliations are real. Finally, names implying a governmental affiliation are also prohibited unless that affiliation is legitimate.

5 Steps to Registering a DBA in Tennessee

A DBA filing starts with searching for the relevant name to make sure that name is not already in use. Note that you are not allowed to use a business name that is already registered with the Secretary of State.

The requirements for filing a DBA in Tennessee vary depending on the type of business that is seeking a trade name, but in general the paperwork will want to know: the company’s true name, its principal place of business, a statement of intent to transact business under the name in question, and the assumed name to be adopted.

For Sole Proprietorship & Partnerships

  • Contact the Register of Deeds in the county where the business is located to obtain the form.
  • 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.
  • Before signing the form, it’s necessary that you have a notary to witness the signing of the documents. Most Register of Deeds offices offer notary services at no cost.
  • Submit the filing fee and form.

Corporations & LLCs

  • Check and verify name availability
  • Fill out the Form. Information needed on the Application for Registration of Assumed Name includes: Current legal name of the business entity, State of formation, and Assumed name being registered.
  • 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.

Conclusion

Filing a Tennessee DBA (‘doing business as’), also known as an ‘assumed name’, is a simple process. 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.

Joy Nwokoro