Tennessee Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

Last updated: June 19th, 2024
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If you plan on starting a Tennessee-based business, you’ll need to first start with the business information search. The search tool found on the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website allows you to search for entities that are registered with the state by name and control number.

Ultimately, the business information search helps to determine whether the name you are considering is available for business registration.

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to perform a Tennessee business entity search.

Tennessee search tips

Make use of these tips when conducting your Tennessee business entity search:

  • Upper and lowercase letters are irrelevant during the search, so feel free to use either option during your search.
  • Punctuation marks, spaces, and special characters do not affect the search results so if a name contains them, feel free to include them in the search.
  • To narrow down your results, enter the entire entity name that you’re searching for if the name contains multiple words.
  • To broaden your search, enter just the first one or two keywords in the company name as opposed to the entire name.

The Tennessee Business Information search allows you further refine your search by selecting the following:

  • Starts with
  • Contains
  • Active entities only

Business search by name

To begin your business search, refer to the Tennessee Business Information search.

1
Enter the business name

You may begin the search by entering the name of the business into the applicable search bar or next to “Search Name.”

Thereafter, you may refine your search using the “starts with” or “contains” option.

Additionally, if you’d like to only see active entries, select or tick the box that says, “Active entities only.”

A final step before clicking the “Search” button is clicking the Recaptcha box that says, ” I’m not a robot.”

2
Review the results

Results will be displayed on this page regardless of whether there are partial or exact matches. The other information you’ll be able to see includes:

  • Control number
  • Entity type
  • Name type
  • Name status
  • Entity filing date
  • Entity status

3
Review additional business information

If you need more information on a specific entity, simply click on the control number highlighted and linked in blue. This will take you to the business entity detail page.

Here, you’ll be able to view even more detailed information on that entity, including the fiscal year close, term of duration, inactive date, etc.

Business search by control number

While on the same page, you may search for entities using the control number.

1
Enter the control number

Enter the control number into the relevant search bar and click on the “Search” button.

2
Review the results

If the correct control number was entered, there should only be one result showing up. This will be an exact match. You’ll have access to all the information you did when searching via name.

Tennessee search results

Irrespective of the search criteria or search type used, you will be able to view the following information:

  • Control #
  • Entity type
  • Name type
  • Name status
  • Entity filing date
  • Entity status
  • Foreign name
  • Fiscal year close
  • Principal office
  • Mailing address
  • AR exempt
  • Managed by
  • Initial filing date
  • Delayed effective date
  • AR due date
  • Inactive date
  • Obligated member entity
  • Number of members

Additionally, you may click on the tabs below to view:

  • Assumed names
  • History
  • Registered agent details

Copies of documents and certificates

Once you’ve completed the business information search, you may want to request and obtain copies of business documents. People often request copies of documents when they need to:

  • Submit tax filings
  • Apply for bank loans
  • Facilitate business registration
  • Replace original business documents

Copies of business documents may be available in plain or certified copies. Plain copies are simply photocopies of the business documents that the state has on file.

However, a certified copy comes with a seal or certificate proving that the document is a true and correct copy of what is on file or record with the Secretary of State’s office or https://sos.tn.gov/. Certified copies are exactly what you need to submit to the government and financial institutions.

In order for you to request and obtain the documents you’re looking for, you’ll need to complete the Request a Copy of Documents Form and then submit it to the Secretary of State’s office either in person or via mail.

When submitting the form, ensure that it includes the information below:

  • The Tennessee SOS control #
  • The legal name of the business as it is listed on the Tennessee Secretary of State record
  • Specify the exact documents needed
  • The applicant’s or requester’s contact details
  • The address where the documents should be mailed, as well as the name they should be addressed to.

The required filing fee. $20 per set.

Additionally, if you would like to order a Certificate of Existence, also referred to as a Certificate of Good Standing, it may be requested, paid for, and accepted online.

Business name availability

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s website does contain a business name availability search option. This page basically allows you to look up businesses from the business entities database and determine if your proposed name is indeed available for use in the state.

It’s also important to note that even if the name appears to be available at the time of the search, there’s no guarantee that it will remain available when you are submitting or filing your paperwork for business registration.

This is why it is highly recommended that if the name is available that you reserve it in the state of Tennessee. You can download the Reservation of Name Application Form from the business name availability search page.

Ensure that you include the information below on the application form:

  • The name you are requesting to be reserved
  • The address and name of the applicant
  • Date of filing
  • Applicant’s signature
  • The date of the application

Name reservation is subject to a $20 filing fee.

After completing the form, go ahead and mail it to this address:

Corporate Filings
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave.
6th Floor, William R. Snodgrass Tower
Nashville, TN 37243

Once processed, this application will reserve that specific name for a period of four months. Unfortunately, is no option to renew a name reservation in Tennessee.

Additionally, when submitting your desired name for business registration, ensure that it adheres to Tennessee naming rules as follows:

  • Do not include any words or phrases that may imply that your company is organized or sponsored by any veteran, religious, charitable, or fraternal services.
  • The name should also be different from any other business already registered in the state. It should also be distinguishable from existing state names
  • Try not to use words that may suggest that your company is affiliated with a government agency.
  • Do not include words that may mislead the public into believing that your company is organized for unlawful purposes.

For a complete set of the state’s naming rules, refer to the Tennessee state statute.

Domain name availability

After carefully choosing a suitable name for your business, it’s time to start thinking about a professional and strong domain name as well. Domain names are absolutely essential in the age of the Internet and are also crucial to establishing your business’s online presence.

That said, deciding on a domain name is no easy feat and does require careful consideration. Ultimately, if you choose a suitable domain name, it will prove to be a priceless marketing tool that will lead customers to your website for a long time to come.

When it comes to deciding on a domain name, use the following tips:

  • Ensure that the domain name reflects your company’s identity, values, and what your brand promises to deliver.
  • Ensure that the domain name is between six to ten letters, with eight being the ideal length.
  • Keep your domain name concise, short, simple, and memorable

Keep these tips in mind when deciding on a domain name to ensure that you come up with not just a strong domain but a professional one as well.

The advantages of having a strong domain name are as follows:

  • Your business comes across as a forward-thinking and tech-savvy brand.
  • A strong domain name, when combined with a professional website, will help to market your services and products around the globe.
  • A strong domain name increases your search engine ranking.
  • A strong domain name provides visibility for your brand.
  • A professional and strong domain name offers credibility to your business and separates you from the millions of other unprofessional websites on the market.

If you’re struggling to find or decide on the ideal domain name for your business, use a professional domain checking service like Namechk.com.

This professional service helps to filter your options and also gives you suggestions when your desired or proposed domain name is already in use.

Namechk.com will check your domain name against hundreds of platforms, including over 100 social media networks.

Fictitious business name search

If you want to conduct a business under any other name aside from your business entity name either now or in the future, you’ll need to register something called a DBA. A DBA is also known as a “doing business as” name, assumed, trade, or fictitious name.

After deciding on an assumed name for your Tennessee business, you should go ahead and start the registration process. You’ll need to complete the Assumed Name Registration Form and submit it via mail to the business filings department at the below address:

Corporate Filings
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave.
6th Floor, William R. Snodgrass Tower
Nashville, TN 37243

Alternatively, you may complete the process online with the Tennessee Department of State.

While Tennessee assumed names do not offer you any type of legal protection, it will allow you to legally operate in the state, open bank accounts under the assumed name, as well as enter into contracts using the assumed name.

FAQs

Is a lien legal?

To put it simply, a lien is basically a legal claim against an individual or business entity’s assets or property. When a lender files a lien against a specific entity or individual, they are granted a legal right to ownership over the indebted individual’s business and personal assets. Yes, it is completely legal.

What criteria does a registered agent need to meet?

You may nominate anyone to serve as your company’s registered agent, also known as a service of process agent. However, they must be at least 18 years of age, have a physical street address (not a PO box) in the state of Wyoming, remain available during normal working hours, and consent to the appointment.

Is a limited liability Partnership really better than a limited liability company?

It all depends on your goals. LLCs have only one member, while LLPs are required to have a minimum of two partners. However, LLPs experience significant tax advantages over LLCs. However, a disadvantage of LLPs is public discourse, meaning financial accounts must be submitted to the Companies House for the public record.

Do for-profit corporations and nonprofits have anything in common?

Both for-profit corporations and nonprofits create some type of legal separation between the members of the organization and the company it’s itself. Therefore, employees and members of a for-profit are protected from legal and financial liabilities. For-profits also have full-time managers and employees, while nonprofit organizations have a Board of Directors and members who work hand in hand to further the cause.

What is the Uniform Commercial Code?

The Uniform Commercial Code, also known as the UCC, is a comprehensive set of laws that dictate how commercial transactions based in the US should be carried out. It is a uniformly adopted state law; however, it’s not federal law. However, it certainly does play an essential role in regulating interstate transactions of a business.

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