Tennessee Secretary of State Business Search & Naming Your LLC
Whether you’re searching for the right Tennessee business name or registering your LLC with the TN Secretary of State, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on a Tennessee business entity search, LLC naming rules, fictitious names and registering your business.
Tennessee Secretary of State Business Search
You need to check whether there’s already another Tennessee LLC or corporation registered with your desired business name. That means searching the Tennessee Secretary of State website using their business entity search tool. You can easily look up TN LLCs and corporations by name and other details.
If the business name is already used, that means it’s not available and you won’t be able to register it. Try searching for a different business name instead.Tennessee Secretary of State Business Entity Search Tool
Tennessee SOS Rules for Your LLC Business Name
Once you’ve decided on a name for your LLC and checked business name availability, you’ll need to meet Tennessee Secretary of State naming rules. These do vary from state to state — we’ve got general naming rules below.
Standard LLC Naming Rules
These rules typically apply to all LLCs, no matter what state they are formed in. You will need to pay attention to these rules, as they will influence the name you choose for your Tennessee LLC.
The business name you have chosen cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in the state of Tennessee. This is why you should check business name availability on the TN SOS website.
It’s not enough for your TN LLC name to be unique; it also cannot be similar to the name of another corporation or LLC in TN. For example, you cannot use the following factors to say your name is different from the name of another business:
- Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., Ltd., LLC, etc.
- Definite articles like “A,” “And,” “An,” “&,” “The,” etc.
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of a word
- Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
All LLCs must have the words “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC” in their name. These words should normally come at the end of the name.
Most states will not allow you to form LLCs with names that:
- Are very similar to the name of a federal or TN agency or organization (e.g. FBI, FDA, Tennessee Department of Revenue, Tennessee Police, Treasury, etc)
- Suggest affiliation with a federal or state agency or organization
- Use the term “Olympic” or any terms that are trademarks of the Olympic organization
- Imply a purpose that it would be illegal for your business to carry out
Specific LLC Naming Rules for Tennessee
In addition to the general rules listed above, the Tennessee Secretary of State has some specific business naming rules for your LLC. You will need to follow these rules if you want to name your TN business appropriately:
The TN Secretary of State says the following about naming your Tennessee LLC.
Generally, a business name cannot contain language stating or implying that:
- The business transacts or has power to transact any business for which authorization is required under Tennessee law, unless the appropriate commission or officer has granted such authorization and certifies that fact in writing
- The business is organized as, affiliated with, or sponsored by any fraternal, veterans, service, religious, charitable or professional organization, unless that fact is certified in writing by the organization with which affiliation or sponsorship is claimed
- The business is an agency or instrumentality of, affiliated with or sponsored by the United States or the State of Tennessee or a subdivision or agency thereof, unless such fact is certified in writing by the appropriate official of the governmental entity
- The business is organized for a purpose other than that permitted by the applicable business statutes and the business’ charter/articles/certificate
If a business name contains the word “mortgage,” “bank,” “banks,” “credit union” or “trust,” written approval must be first obtained from the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions before documents can be accepted for filing with the Division of Business Services.Tennessee Secretary of State Business Naming Rules
DBA Names for Tennessee LLCs
You might choose to do business under a different name from your legal LLC name. In Tennessee, a DBA (or “doing business as”) name is known as an “Assumed Name.” You might choose to use a different name from your TN formal LLC name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your LLC might be called Tennessee Music Holding Company LLC and you have a chain called “Country Music Cooldown.” You should file an assumed name form to let the Tennessee Secretary of State know. In Tennessee, you do that through an “Application for Registration of Assumed Name (ss-4402)” form, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf through our Assumed Business Name service.Incfile's Assumed Business Name Service
Business Name Registration for Your Tennessee LLC
Once you’ve searched for your Tennessee business name, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need a fictitious name, you can register your TN LLC name. There are a couple of ways to do this.
If you’re ready to start your Tennessee LLC, you can formally file your Articles of Organization with the Tennessee SOS.
If you’re ready to start your LLC, you can formally file your Certificate of Formation with the Tennessee SOS, or let Incfile take care of it for you.
FAQs on Naming Your Tennessee LLC
You might find the following answers useful.
Just go to the business name search tool and enter your proposed business name. You can search the register of the Tennessee Secretary of State, which will tell you if there are any Tennessee corporations or LLCs with that name.
Yes. Most LLCs will be bound by general rules (applicable to all LLCs) and specific rules (applicable in the state of Tennessee). We’ve detailed these rules above.
Yes. Known as “assumed names,” “fictitious names,” “doing business as names” or “trade names,” you can choose to conduct business under a different name. See our section on Tennessee LLC Trade Names” above.
Yes. The Tennessee Secretary of State allows you to reserve a name if you don’t want to start your business immediately. If you are ready to start your business now, you do not need to reserve a name
Additional Resources for Naming Your Tennessee LLC
You might find these other resources helpful.
Trademark and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Tennessee LLC name does not infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to make sure your proposed business name does not infringe is to carry out a trademark search through Incfile. If it doesn’t infringe, you can even register it as a trademark yourself.Incfile Trademark Search and Registration Service
Find the Perfect Name for Your Tennessee LLC
The perfect business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing the right business name, but basically, you'll want to choose a name that will:
- Appeal to your customers
- Be memorable enough to stand out
- Best represent your product or services
- Not be used by another business