If you’re looking for the perfect business name for your Tennessee C Corporation, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct a Tennessee SOS business search, plus business naming rules, assumed names and trademarks.
General Rules for Corporation Names
These rules generally apply to all corporations, wherever they're formed.
The name you decide on cannot be in use by any other business in the state. This is why it's so important to perform a Tennessee Secretary of State corporation search before you begin your incorporation paperwork.
It’s not enough for your corporation name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of another business in the state. In addition, you cannot use any of the following features in an attempt to differentiate your corporation name from that of another business:
- Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., etc.
- Definite articles, such as “A,” “An” or “The”
- The conjunction "And" or “&"
- Numbers in place of numerals (or vice versa), e.g., "One World" is the same as "1 World"
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of words
- Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
All corporations must use one of the following in their names, usually at the end of the name: “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” “Limited” or their abbreviations.
Most states will not allow you to incorporate with names that:
- Are similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Tennessee Department of Labor, Tennessee Rangers, Treasury, etc.)
- Suggest affiliation with a federal or state agency or organization
- Use the term “Olympic” or any terms that are trademarks of the International Olympic Committee
- Imply a purpose that would be illegal for your business to carry out
Specific Rules for Tennessee Business Names
In addition to the general rules listed above, you'll need to follow some Tennessee corporation laws that apply to naming your business.
For example, per the state's Corporations and Associations Code Title 48, Chapter 14, § 48-14-101:
May not contain language stating or implying that the corporation:
- Transacts or has power to transact any business for which authorization in whatever form and however denominated is required under the laws of this state, unless the appropriate commission or officer has granted such authorization and certifies that fact in writing
- 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
- 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 United States or the state of Tennessee or subdivision or agency thereof
- Is organized for a purpose other than that permitted by § 48-13-101 and its charter.
Coming Up with the Ideal Business Name
The ideal business name can be elusive. We have a comprehensive guide to choosing the right business name, but essentially, you'll want to choose a name that will:
Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free name generator.
Tennessee Corporation Name Search
Once you have an idea of your desired name, perform a Tennessee business lookup to make sure another company isn't already using that name.
You can use the state's business registry to perform a name search.
You can also use our simple and convenient Business Name Search tool, which will search the state's business registry for you.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Tennessee corporation name doesn't infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to ensure you're not infringing is to perform a trademark search through Bizee. You can even register the trademark yourself if it isn't already in use.
Register a DBA in Tennessee
You may do business under a name that is different from your corporation's legal name. While many states refer to this as a trade name, fictitious name or "doing business as" (DBA), it's an assumed name in Tennessee. You may decide to use an assumed name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your primary business may be called Green Scapes, Inc., and you have a chain called Green Scapes Gardening. You could register an assumed name just for that brand. You'd do that with the Application for Registration of Assumed Corporate Name form, or you can have Bizee do it on your behalf with our DBA service.
In order to keep your business names unique, you can also use the Tennessee Secretary of State online portal. You can perform a Tennessee DBA name search to find out whether any other companies are already using the assumed name you want. We can also help you with this via our DBA name service.
Note: A trade name is not the same as a trademark. Learn more about trademark vs. DBA.
Register Your Business Name with the Tennessee Sec State
You’ve performed a Tennessee Secretary of State corporation search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need an assumed name. Now you can register your corporation name in one of two ways.