How to Register a Business in Tennessee: Extensive Guide

Sections of this topic

    Starting a business can be a thrilling and rewarding journey. However, registering your business in Tennessee might seem overwhelming, especially if you’re new to entrepreneurship. But don’t worry! With the right guidance and resources, the registration process can be simplified and stress-free.

    This blog post offers a step-by-step guide to help you effortlessly register your business in Tennessee. We’ll also provide valuable tips and resources to streamline the process. Whether you’re launching a new venture or formalizing an existing one, our guide will walk you through the procedure in seven simple steps.

    We understand that challenges may still arise during the registration process, which is why we’ve curated a list of top-notch services like Tailor Brands, known for their expertise in this area. Let’s delve into the details and help you speed up your company’s registration journey in Tennessee!

    >> Tennessee Business Registration – Tailor Brands >>

    How to Register Your Business in Tennessee in 7 Simple Steps

    To successfully register your business in Tennessee, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these 7 essential steps. By carefully adhering to these guidelines, you can guarantee a seamless and expedient process for setting up your business in the state of Tennessee.

    Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure

    The optimal business framework for your company in Tennessee is contingent upon the characteristics of your business and your aspirations for expansion. We’ve previously explored the various choices of incorporated and unincorporated businesses accessible in Tennessee. Now, let’s delve into these alternatives and their operational facets.

    If you decide on a structure that causes incorporation, you must officially register your business with the Tennessee Secretary of State.

    Sole Proprietorship

    How to register your business as a sole proprietorship in Tennessee. In Tennessee, a sole proprietorship is the most basic form of business organization. It treats the owner and the business as one entity in legal terms. 

    As a result, the owner takes on personal liability for any debts or obligations of the business. Creating a sole proprietorship is a simple process that involves few legal and administrative hurdles. While there’s no mandatory registration requirement for sole proprietors in Tennessee, obtaining certain permits or licenses at the local level may be necessary.

    General Partnership

    How to register your business in Tennessee as a general partnership. A general partnership refers to a business that multiple individuals jointly own. These partners share both the profits and losses of the business. 

    Each partner is liable for any debts or legal obligations incurred by the business. While there’s no obligation to register a general partnership with the state in Tennessee, it may be necessary to file a “Tennessee Assumed Business Name Certificate” (DBA) in the county where your business operates.

    Limited Partnership (LP)

    In Tennessee, a limited partnership is formed by one or more general partners who oversee the operations and bear unrestricted personal responsibility. It also includes one or more limited partners who contribute capital but have restricted liability. To create an LP in Tennessee, you must submit a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” to the Tennessee Secretary of State.

    Limited Liability Company (LLC)

    A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a versatile business entity that merges the liability shield of a corporation with the tax advantages and uncomplicated nature of a partnership. In Tennessee, you must submit “Articles of Organization Limited Liability Company” to the Tennessee Secretary of State and establish an Operating Agreement that delineates your company’s management and ownership framework.


    In Tennessee, there are two classifications of corporations: those that offer limited liability protection and are separate legal entities from their shareholders.

    • C-corporations
    • S-corporations

    To set up a company in Tennessee, you’re required to submit either the “Articles of Incorporation For-Profit Corporation” or the “Articles of Incorporation Nonprofit Corporation” to the Tennessee Secretary of State, depending on your business type. Corporations have additional requirements such as drafting bylaws, issuing stock, and holding regular board and shareholder meetings.

    Select the business structure that aligns with your liability protection, taxation, and management obligations needs. If you need guidance in making this decision, seek legal or business expert advice.

    >> Tennessee Business Registration – Tailor Brands >>

    Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name

    In Tennessee, several alternatives exist for naming your company. You can register a legal entity name, acquire a trademark, or register a legal name and operate under a different one. The specific regulations and requirements governing business naming differ from state to state, so it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the particular requirements of Tennessee.

    Similar to the process of incorporating your business, the approach you choose for naming in Tennessee will depend on your entity’s unique circumstances and needs.

    While it may be recommended to pursue all three options to ensure exclusive rights to your chosen name, you can also choose just one method. Although not obligatory, maintaining consistency across all registration methods using the same name is advised.

    Now let’s delve into each of these naming options available in more depth:

    Legal Entity Name

    In Tennessee, businesses must register a legal entity name that acts as the official identification for the company according to state recognition. It needs to be distinguishable to guarantee that your selected name remains unique and avoids potential conflicts with other businesses.

    Tennessee’s naming regulations consist of guidelines concerning company suffixes such as LLC, LP, or Corp. These regulations require the business name to represent the registered entity’s nature. You can check if a particular name is available by using the database offered by the Tennessee Secretary of State.


    In Tennessee, a trademark functions as an intellectual property safeguard for the name or logo of a business on a nationwide scale. It’s vital to perform an extensive search in the USPTO database to verify that the desired name or logo hasn’t already been registered.

    Upon registration, a trademark gives exclusive rights to the name or logo, preventing others from utilizing a similar one for comparable goods or services throughout the country. It’s essential to understand that obtaining a trademark doesn’t automatically guarantee unrestricted usage rights for the name or logo in every situation.

    Operating Under a Different Name (DBA)

    In Tennessee, there’s a possibility to register your business using one name while operating under a different name known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. To establish a DBA, you need to file a Certificate of Assumed Name with the county clerk’s office in the county where your business is situated. Although DBAs are governed by federal trademark laws, there’s no obligation for a DBA to be exclusive at the state level.

    By comprehending and thoughtfully considering these choices for naming, you can effectively register your business name in Tennessee while protecting your brand identity.

    >> Tennessee Business Registration – Tailor Brands >>

    Step 3: Consider Taxes and Other Costs in Tennessee

    Tennessee Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) must pay various taxes, which encompass:

    • Sales Tax: In Tennessee, the state imposes a 7% sales tax on most goods and services. However, this tax has some exceptions, including groceries and prescription drugs.
    • Franchise Tax: Tennessee-based companies, whether corporations or LLCs are required to pay an annual franchise tax of $25. This tax must be paid on the anniversary of the company’s formation.
    • Income Tax: In Tennessee, corporations and LLCs are required to pay state income tax. The rate for corporate income tax is 6.75%, while the rate for LLC income tax is slightly lower at 5.75%. Tennessee offers various deductions and credits that can offset these income taxes.
    • Property Tax: Businesses in Tennessee must pay property taxes on both real estate and personal property they own. The rate of these taxes is determined by the local authority responsible for taxation.
    • Withholding Taxes: Employers in Tennessee must deduct state income tax from their employees’ wages. The amount of tax withheld depends on the employee’s filing status and earnings.
    • Employer’s Unemployment Insurance Tax: Employers in Tennessee must comply with the mandate to contribute towards unemployment insurance. The tax percentage is 2.7% for the initial $10,000 of wages disbursed to individual employees.

    If the formation of a Tennessee LLC is on your mind, seek guidance from a tax advisor who can help you understand the specific taxes your LLC will be liable for.

    To make the registration process more convenient, business owners in Tennessee can use online services like Tailor Brands. Tailor Brands offers a comprehensive range of services to assist entrepreneurs with their business registrations in Tennessee. 

    These services include filing documents with the Secretary of State, obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN), and creating an operating agreement. They provide ongoing compliance support to ensure businesses remain in good standing within the state.

    >> Register Your Business With Tailor Brands >>

    Step 4: Register and Acquire Licenses and Permits in Tennessee

    To ensure that your business is legally compliant and operationally legitimate, go through the steps of obtaining licenses and permits. Here are the key actions you need to take:

    Tax Registration: If you intend to sell products in Tennessee, it’s a requirement to register with the Department of Revenue for sales tax collection purposes. The DOR may also require you to register for other taxes related to your business.

    Employer Identification Number (EIN): If your company employs individuals or falls under separate taxation, acquire a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. While not always obligatory, having an EIN can benefit business-related matters. 

    Banks typically require an EIN when opening a business account, and other organizations may also ask for one to streamline payment processing. Fortunately, you can easily obtain an EIN through an online application without filing fees.

    Regulatory Licenses and Permits: Licenses and permits that pertain to different sectors like health, safety, environment compliance, construction, and industry-specific regulations are available. These licenses and permits are granted by various agencies, such as the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industry Services, the Department of Environment & Conservation, and the Department of Health. 

    To obtain detailed information on these licenses and permits, consult the relevant agency. It’s advisable to visit their websites for local licenses and permits specific to your business operations in certain cities or counties.

    Professional and Occupational Licenses: Individuals in certain fields or professions must obtain licenses. The Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) oversees various regulatory boards and commissions that govern licensed occupations and professions. 

    However, not all professions fall within the TDCI’s jurisdiction. Identify the relevant regulatory board or commission for your field and comply with their licensing requirements.

    By adhering to these professional guidelines, you can ensure that your business complies with legal obligations, maintains adherence to regulations, and operates within the boundaries established by the appropriate regulatory bodies.

    >> Register Your Business With Tailor Brands >>

    Step 5: Open a Bank Account for Your Business in Tennessee

    Once you have obtained your EIN, it becomes essential to establish a business bank account in the state of Tennessee. The regulations that govern Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), and corporations require a business bank account. 

    However, sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships are not legally obligated to maintain separate personal and business bank accounts.

    To begin the process, visit a local Tennessee bank and complete all paperwork. It’s advisable to compare the rates and benefits different banks offer before deciding, ensuring that you choose the most helpful option.

    Even if you currently operate as a sole proprietor or an unincorporated partnership, having a designated business bank account in Tennessee is highly recommended for maintaining financial separation. By taking this proactive step, you’ll avoid potential complications in the future if you decide to incorporate your business.

    >> Consider Tailor Brands >>

    Step 6: Protect Your Intellectual Property in Tennessee 

    When embarking on a business venture in Tennessee, it’s of utmost importance to safeguard your valuable intellectual property (IP) based on your company.

    For example, most enterprises prioritize ensuring that their name and logo remain uncopyable and cannot be utilized by other entities. Depending on whether your business involves selling goods or providing services, you may also want to protect the design of your products or any creative works you generate, such as writing, designs, or music.

    Tennessee offers various options to achieve this goal, and it’s highly recommended that you promptly initiate the applications to prevent unauthorized use of your IP.


    In Tennessee, a trademark is a recognizable symbol, phrase, word, or design that differentiates a product or service from similar ones in the market.

    To gain legal protection, trademarks must be officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The registration process typically takes around four to six months to complete. Once registered, the trademark enjoys nationwide protection and can be used as grounds for legal action against unauthorized usage.

    Companies based in Tennessee can safeguard their trademarks by registering them with the USPTO. This ensures the security of their brand and reputation and grants them legal recourse against any unauthorized use of their trademark.


    Tennessee’s copyright law safeguards original creations of authorship, encompassing literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and specific other intellectual works. This encompasses written material, software programs, web content, movies, audio recordings, visuals, and various imaginative expressions.

    When you produce a fresh piece in Tennessee, copyright protection is automatically conferred upon the creator. As the proprietor of exclusive rights to distribute, create derivative works from, and sell intellectual property, you possess legal authority over the utilization of your work.

    Registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office in Tennessee offers supplementary legal protection and functions as proof of ownership. Copyright registration aids safeguard your work against infringement and provides recourse through the judicial system if required.


    In Tennessee, it’s essential to secure a patent if you have developed a new product or piece of machinery. This legal protection gives the holder exclusive rights and prevents others from producing, selling, or importing the patented item for a specific duration.

    The process of applying for a patent is intricate and can take up to five years to complete. Therefore, it’s advisable to initiate the application early, especially if you have an innovative invention that requires safeguarding. Patent applications must be submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

    By ensuring intellectual property protection in Tennessee, you can safeguard your brand, products, and creative works. This will help your business maintain its competitive advantage and continue thriving in the market.

    >> Visit Tailor Brands >>

    Step 7: Set Up Your Payment Infrastructure in Tennessee

    How to register your business in Tennessee, using business registration Tennessee services. To ensure that your business in Tennessee is prepared to serve customers promptly after they register, it’s crucial to establish a payment acceptance system that’s smooth and convenient.

    There are many options available for payment processing services that offer user-friendly interfaces and can seamlessly integrate with your website or point-of-sale (POS) system. Well-known choices like Square, Stripe, and PayPal provide systems that are flexible and customizable according to the objectives of your business.

    These payment processors enable you to accept a wide range of payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, ACH transfers, and digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, among others. By choosing a trustworthy payment processing service, you can offer your customers the ability to pay using their preferred methods through a secure platform. This ensures a seamless transaction experience for both your business and its clients.

    When it comes to setting up your payment processing system, it’s essential to prioritize sales tax compliance in the state of Tennessee. This entails acquiring a Tennessee Sales and Use Tax Certificate from the Tennessee Department of Revenue, which grants you the authority to collect sales tax on taxable products and services.

    Once your payment infrastructure is successfully established, your business based in Tennessee will be fully equipped to cater to customers and generate revenue effectively and securely.

    By diligently following these outlined steps, you will be well on your path toward creating a legally compliant business presence within the state of Tennessee.

    >> Register Your Business in Tennessee With Tailor Brands >>

    Top 6 Business Registration Services for Tennessee Entrepreneurs

    Entrepreneurs and small business owners in Tennessee are fortunate to have a range of options for registering their businesses in Tennessee. These services offer comprehensive help in establishing and ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations. 

    Here are a few of the best business registration services that Tennessee entrepreneurs can take advantage of:

    Tailor brands

    Tailor Brands is a digital service specializing in branding and design, enabling businesses to establish a polished and unified brand identity. Their offerings encompass various branding solutions, including logo design, business card creation, and social media branding. 

    Tailor Brands equips businesses with various customizable design tools and resources to personalize their branded materials. While it does not function as a conventional business registration Tennessee service, Tailor Brands aids entrepreneurs in Tennessee by helping them create an enticing brand image that appeals to customers.

    >> Register Your Business in Tennessee With Tailor Brands >>

    Business Rocket logo

    BusinessRocket is an innovative digital platform that provides a range of vital services for registering a business in Tennessee. This dynamic platform simplifies the entire process, offering user-friendly features and expert advice. From choosing the right business structure to handling paperwork and acquiring licenses, BusinessRocket streamlines it all.

    By providing customizable solutions that cater to each client’s unique requirements, this platform guarantees efficiency, affordability, and adherence to state regulations. With intuitive tools and abundant resources at their disposal, entrepreneurs can confidently establish their ventures while delegating administrative responsibilities to experienced professionals.

    >> Get Started With BusinessRocket >>

    Northwest Registered Agent logo

    Northwest Registered Agent is a reputable online platform that provides professional assistance in business registration services, compliance management, and document filing. They’re well-known for their exceptional customer service and commitment to quality. 

    Their personalized support aims to assist Tennessee businesses in meeting state and federal regulations effectively. Northwest Registered Agent offers business formation services tailored for LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits.

    >> Tennessee Business Registration – Northwest Registered Agent >>

    ZenBusiness is a digital platform that focuses on assisting businesses with their registration needs. Their services encompass various aspects, such as business formation, registered agent services, and annual report filing. 

    Besides affordability, they also provide customized support and valuable resources to help companies stay compliant and thrive. ZenBusiness boasts a user-friendly website and an efficient process that simplifies the business registration journey for entrepreneurs in Tennessee.

    >> Register Your Business in Tennessee With ZenBusiness >>

    swyft filings

    Swyft Filings has gained popularity as a business registration Tennessee service well-known for its efficient and straightforward approach to forming businesses, including LLC formation services, incorporation, and compliance. 

    They offer personalized assistance and valuable resources to assist Tennessee-based businesses in navigating the registration process while adhering to state and federal regulations. With their user-friendly website and affordable pricing options, Swyft Filings aims to make the registration process convenient for entrepreneurs.

    >> Register Your Business in Tennessee With Swyft Filings >>

    Bizee logo

    Bizee is a convenient and cost-effective online platform for business registration services. Their offerings include registered agent services, compliance management, and document filing. With its user-friendly interface, Bizee simplifies registering businesses in Tennessee.

    Besides their efficient registration system, they also provide ongoing support and resources to aid in maintaining compliance and driving growth.

    Each of these business registration services provides distinct features and advantages to assist entrepreneurs in Tennessee with their registration needs.

    By conducting thorough research and comparing these services, entrepreneurs can identify the optimal solution that aligns with their specific requirements while ensuring an efficient and effective registration process.

    >> Register Your Business in Tennessee With Bizee >>

    Business Registration Laws in Tennessee

    Registering a business in Tennessee requires following specific steps and meeting certain requirements. Here are important details about the laws governing business registration in Tennessee:

    • Business Structure: Decide on the organization of your business, whether it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC).
    • Business Name: Select an original and distinctive name for your company. Verify that the chosen name is not currently being used by any other business operating in Tennessee. Use the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website to search for existing business names.
    • Trade Name Registration: If you intend to run your business using a name different from your personal legal name (for sole proprietorships) or the official name (for partnerships, corporations, or LLCs), it’s necessary to register a trade name. This trade name, commonly called a “doing business as” (DBA) name, must be registered with the county clerk’s office in the specific county where your business operates.
    • Entity Formation: If you decide to establish a corporation, LLC, or partnership, you must submit the formation paperwork to the office of the Secretary of State in Tennessee. This usually entails filing articles of incorporation or organization and paying the necessary fees.
    • Business Licenses and Permits: The nature of your business activities may require you to obtain particular licenses and permits from state and local authorities. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance details various business licenses and permits that specific industries might need.
    • Tax Registration: Ensure that your business is registered for tax purposes with the Tennessee Department of Revenue. If you intend to hire employees or have a business structure that necessitates it, obtain a tax identification number, also referred to as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
    • Business Insurance: It’s advisable to consider acquiring suitable insurance for your business. While it may not be mandatory, protecting your business from liability and various risks is recommended.

    Please note that the process and criteria for registration may differ depending on your company. It’s recommended to seek advice from a lawyer or business expert who can offer personalized guidance based on your unique circumstances. 

    For detailed information and helpful resources regarding business registration in Tennessee, please visit the official website of the Secretary of State.

    >> Register Your Business in Tennessee With Tailor Brands >>

    Alternative Business Registration Methods in Tennessee

    In Tennessee, individuals interested in registering a business in Tennessee have multiple alternative methods for registering their businesses. Here are some available choices:

    Online Registration 

    The online platform “TN SOS” offered by the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website enables businesses to register online. This efficient method allows you to complete the registration process from any location with internet connectivity.

    Mail-in Registration

    If you favor going through a registration procedure in person, you have the option to ask for the required paperwork from the office of Tennessee Secretary of State and send it by mail. It will be necessary for you to complete all the mandatory forms, include any relevant documentation, and dispatch them to the specified address provided by the Secretary of State’s office.

    In-Person Registration

    One alternative is to go to the office of the Tennessee Secretary of State and complete your business registration. By choosing this option, you can directly engage with the staff, seek clarifications, and receive guidance throughout the registration process.

    The specific requirements and procedures for registering a business in Tennessee Can differ depending on its entity type (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation). It’s advisable to seek advice from a lawyer or professional business advisor who can assist you in comprehending the legal and regulatory responsibilities associated with registering a business in Tennessee.

    >> Try Tailor Brands Today! >>

    Benefits of Registering Your Business in Tennessee

    There are many advantages to registering your business in Tennessee. Let’s look at some benefits that come with it.

    • Legal recognition: When you register your business with the state of Tennessee, it grants legal recognition and establishes it as a distinct legal entity. This distinction guarantees that your assets are safeguarded from any liabilities or debts the business accumulates.
    • Limited liability protection: Registering as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or corporation in Tennessee provides valuable limited liability protection. This means that your personal assets, as an owner, are protected from the debts and legal obligations of the business. 
    • Tax advantages: Tennessee offers a business-friendly tax climate. The state exempts individuals from paying income tax on their earnings, which is beneficial for entrepreneurs. Tennessee has a reduced corporate income tax rate, making it an appealing destination for businesses aiming to lower their tax obligations.
    • Access to funding and resources: Registering your business in Tennessee provides you with convenient access to a wide range of funding opportunities and resources. The state has many programs and incentives in place to assist small businesses, such as grants, loans, tax credits, and technical support. By registering your business in Tennessee, you can also boost your credibility and increase the likelihood of obtaining financial backing from lenders or investors. This step not only streamlines the process but also enhances the overall prospects for success.
    • Business-friendly environment: Tennessee has gained a reputation for its favorable conditions for businesses. The state offers a low cost of living, reasonably priced real estate, and a highly skilled workforce. Tennessee is proud to have an efficient transportation system in place that facilitates the shipping of products and reaching customers conveniently. The government of the state is dedicated to promoting economic expansion and provides various opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners to network and collaborate with one another.
    • Brand protection: When you register your business in Tennessee, it safeguards your brand identity. By registering the name of your business, trademark, or service mark, you obtain exclusive rights to use that name within the state. This ensures that others cannot use a similar name, which could cause customer confusion and potential legal problems.
    • Compliance with regulations: By registering your business in Tennessee, you can ensure that you’re meeting all the state regulations and requirements. This allows you to obtain the licenses and permits that are specific to your industry, ensuring that you’re operating within the bounds of the law and avoiding any potential penalties or fines. 

    Complying with these regulations will help establish trust among your customers, partners, and suppliers.

    It’s important to mention that while these advantages typically pertain to the act of registering a business in Tennessee, it’s crucial to seek advice from a legal or financial expert to grasp the specific criteria and consequences relevant to your distinct business circumstances.

    Is Business Registration Required in Tennessee? Find Out Here

    Indeed, in the state of Tennessee, most businesses are required to undergo registration with the government. The particular registration obligations can differ based on factors such as the structure of the business, type of industry, and other relevant considerations. 

    Some common requirements for registration include acquiring a Tennessee Sales and Use Tax Permit, registering a Tennessee Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation, and obtaining licenses or permits specific to certain industries.

    It’s essential to conduct thorough research on the precise requirements that apply to your business and ensure total compliance with all registration obligations to minimize any potential legal or financial repercussions.

    >> Get Started With Tailor Brands >>

    How to Register Your Business in Tennessee – Frequently Asked Questions

    Bottom Line on How to Register Your Business in Tennessee

    To adhere to Tennessee’s laws and regulations, it’s essential to register your business. Although this process may seem daunting, diligently following the necessary procedures and fulfilling all requirements will help establish a strong foundation for your enterprise.

    It’s crucial to select a business name and legal structure that aligns with the guidelines set by the Tennessee Secretary of State. You must also complete all required documentation and obtain any industry- and location-specific licenses or permits.

    To streamline this process and ensure full compliance, consider using a business registration service like Tailor Brands. Properly registering your business in Tennessee will allow you to address potential legal and financial challenges proactively, setting yourself up for success.

    >> Get Started With Tailor Brands >>

    Related Articles

    Learn How To Register a Business by State

    Explore our interactive U.S. map to cultivate your knowledge on registering a business by exploring the unique processes and requirements specific to each state.