How to Get a Tennessee DBA Name

Although filing for a DBA is similar nationwide, there are specific rules to follow when getting a Tennessee DBA. Read on to learn more.
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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated January 17, 2024
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
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With a DBA, you can create a fictitious name for your business that you operate under instead of, or alongside, your official business name. The initials stand for “doing business as,” and this article defines the term before showing you how to set up a Tennessee DBA.

DBA in Tennessee: Key Takeaways

  • A Tennessee DBA lasts for five years and can be renewed by filing a renewal application with the Tennessee Department of State.

  • Having a DBA has no impact on your taxes or business structure.

  • DBAs do not offer the same brand protection as a trademark, which can be obtained through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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What Is a DBA?

The Tennessee Secretary of State defines a DBA (doing business as) name as a fictitious name under which your company can operate.[1] In Tennessee, this is often called an “assumed name.” Still, the idea is the same — it’s a name other than the official name that you’ve chosen for the company.

A Tennessee assumed name only lasts for five years after it’s approved. You must reapply once the five years expire to keep using the name.

A DBA is not a type of business structure. These structures, such as a limited liability company (LLC) or C corporation (C corp), define how you set up your business and your local, state, and federal tax obligations.

A DBA has no impact on any of that. It’s simply an alternative name, though still one for which you need approval from local authorities. 

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How to File a DBA in Tennessee

The following steps cover the legal aspects of setting up your assumed name, including any filing fee you must pay and the documentation to submit.

Two companies can not use the same or an overly similar assumed name in the state of Tennessee. So, you need to confirm that your Tennessee DBA is available before you spend any time or money trying to register it.

The state offers a Business Name Availability Database where you can quickly search for any name you’re considering for an official or DBA name.[2] If the name you enter is already in use, the database pings the result and the associated company’s basic information to you.

Alternatively, our Business Name Search tool delivers a result in less than an hour to show you if the DBA you want to use is available.

Free Tennessee Business Name Search

Enter your desired Tennessee company name to see if it is available with our free business name search.

It’s worth noting that a DBA name isn’t automatically protected by Tennessee trademark law. You must file for trademarks separately with the state’s Division of Business Services using the Application for Registration of Trademark or Service Mark.

Step 2 — File Your DBA With the County Clerk’s Office

Some states require you to submit a fictitious business statement as part of your DBA filing. Tennessee doesn’t require you to file this statement.

Your business entity determines which forms you submit and where you submit them. You need to know the type of business structure you intend to use before you file for your DBA.

Sole Proprietor or General Partnership

If you’re setting up either a general partnership or sole proprietorship, your first step is to complete the Business Tax Registration Application for the Tennessee Department of Revenue.[3] In “Section 8” of this form, you’ll see a section where you can enter a Tennessee DBA.

After completing the form, you must file it with the county clerk where you primarily do business. For instance, a company operating out of Knox County would file the form with a $15 filing fee to the Knox County Clerk’s Office.

The state’s Department of Revenue’s website contains a full list of counties in Tennessee, with addresses and phone numbers, so you can find the appropriate county clerk’s office to send your DBA paperwork.[4]

LLCs, LLPs, and C Corporations

The process differs slightly for an LLC, C Corporation, limited liability partnership (LLP), or nonprofit corporation. While you still file the Business Tax Registration Application with the local county clerk’s office, you must also file a registration form with the Tennessee Secretary of State.

You’ll need the following depending on your business structure:

LLC — Application for Registration of Assumed Limited Liability Company Name[5]

Corporate Entity — Application for Registration of Assumed Corporate Name[6]

LLP — Application for Registration of Assumed Limited Liability Partnership Name[7]

You can complete this registration online or send the form to the following address, along with a $20 filing fee:

Corporate Filings

312 Rosa L. Parks Ave.

6th Floor, William R. Snodgrass Tower

Nashville, TN 37243

After you receive approval from the Secretary of State, your business will officially have an assumed name that it can use for five years before needing to renew. 

Step 3 — Follow Up

How much follow-up you need to do also depends on the business entity you’ve created.

Life is simpler for general partnerships and sole proprietorships. Your DBA renews annually when you submit your local taxes. 

All other entities must complete a separate application every five years to renew their assumed name. For instance, an LLC business owner completes the Application for Renewal of Registration of Assumed Name (Limited Liability Company) form.[8]

Your renewal must be completed within two months before your assumed name expires, meaning you can’t submit it earlier than two months before. It requires a $20 filing fee.

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Tennessee DBA Name Restrictions

Again, it’s important to note that your Tennessee DBA or assumed name does not impact your business structure. A DBA or assumed name also does not automatically grant you trademark protections — you must file for that separately.

Beyond that, there are a few naming convention restrictions to which you must adhere when choosing your DBA name:

  • Can not contain references or inferences to governmental agencies, such as the Justice Department or FBI

  • Can not use words that suggest your business conducts illegal or unlawful transactions

  • Can not use words that suggest it’s associated with any charitable, religious, veteran-associated, or fraternal activities unless a nonprofit

  • Can only use financial terms, such as “accountant” or “CPA,” if a staff member is appropriately licensed

DBA Tennessee Tax Considerations

As mentioned, a “doing business as” or assumed name is an alternative name for your company. As such, registering for one has no tax implications at the state or federal levels.

For instance, when you file for a DBA, you won’t need to worry about applying for a new Employer Identification Number (EIN). The IRS says you only need to think about an EIN if your business structure or ownership changes, neither of which a DBA name impacts.[9]

Why Should You Get a DBA?

Why would business owners want a Tennessee DBA? There are several reasons, including the following:

  • You don’t want to use your official name on a shopfront or in your branding.

  • You don’t want to operate under your own name in a sole proprietorship or general partnership.

  • The website domain for your official name is already in use, forcing you to choose an alternative name under which your business can operate.

Register Your Tennessee DBA in Minutes
  • Gain Privacy: Hide your personal name and details when marketing your business.

  • Improve Branding: Choose a DBA that easily informs your audience about what you have to offer.

  • Expand Services: Operate multiple businesses without creating separate entities for each one.

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What’s the difference between an LLC and a DBA?

Where an LLC is a business structure with various tax benefits, a DBA is an alternative name for your company. It does not affect your structure or taxes.

How much does getting a DBA cost?

Assumed name registration comes with a $20 filing fee in Tennessee, typically made payable to the Secretary of State.

Do I need a DBA for my Tennessee business?

No, you don’t need a DBA to form or transact as a business in Tennessee.

What’s the difference between a trade name, assumed name, and a DBA name?

There is no difference, as the three terms are typically synonyms for DBAs. Tennessee uses “assumed name” rather than DBA in its official documentation.

How long does a DBA last?

For a sole proprietorship or general partnership, a Tennessee DBA lasts as long as you continue submitting your annual tax returns. LLCs, corporations, and other business structures must renew an assumed name every five years.

Is there a limit to the number of DBA names I can have?

According to the 2010 Tennessee Code, a corporate entity may have no more than five assumed names at any one time.[10]

Is a DBA the same as a trademark?

No, a DBA doesn’t constitute a trademark. Though reserving your DBA in Tennessee entitles you to use that name for business purposes, you’ll have to file for a trademark separately for further branding protection.

Does a DBA affect my business’s tax status?

A DBA does not affect your tax status, final tax return, or any structural aspects of your Tennessee business entity. It’s simply an alternative name.


  1. Tennessee Secretary of State. “Division of Business Services Announces Online Assumed Name Filings.” Accessed October 4, 2023.

  2. Tennessee Secretary of State. “Business Name Availability.” Accessed October 4, 2023.

  3. Tennessee Department of Revenue. “Business Tax Registration Application.” Accessed October 5, 2023.

  4. Tennessee Department of Revenue. “County Clerks Locations.” Accessed October 5, 2023.

  5. Tennessee Secretary of State. “Application for Registration of assumed Limited Liability Company Name.” Accessed October 5, 2023.

  6. Tennessee Secretary of State. “Application for Registration of Assumed Corporate Name.” Accessed October 5, 2023.

  7. Tennessee Secretary of State. “Application for Registration of Assumed Limited Liability Partnership Name.” Accessed October 5, 2023.

  8. Tennessee Secretary of State. “Application for Renewal of Registration of Assumed Name (Limited Liability Company).” Accessed October 5, 2023.

  9. Internal Revenue Service. “Do You Need a New EIN.” Accessed October 5, 2023.

  10. Justia. “2010 Tennessee Code, Title 48 - Corporations And Associations, Chapter 54 - Name, 48-54-101 - Corporate name.” Accessed October 5, 2023.

Originally published on January 17, 2024, and last edited on January 17, 2024.
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