How to File the Articles of Organization in Tennessee
You can download Form SS-4270: Articles of Organization from the Tennessee Secretary of State website to file by mail or in person OR file online using the Secretary of State Business Online Services.
In order to file your LLC’s Articles of Organization, you will need to fill out the following information:
Article 1: Limited Liability Company Name
Your LLC’s name will have to be both creative and legally compliant.
You will need to make sure that your business name:
- Satisfies Tennessee’s naming guidelines
- Is not already taken by another business in Tennessee
There are certain guidelines that you will need to follow when naming your LLC:
- LLC names must contain the words “limited liability company,” the abbreviation “LLC,” or similar words in another language.
- Names cannot contain any words implying that the LLC is affiliated with any fraternal, veterans', service, religious, charitable, or professional organization without permission.
- Names cannot imply that the LLC is affiliated with any federal or state government agency.
- Business names must be sufficiently distinctive from any other registered business name.
For a full list of naming guidelines see the Tennessee naming statute.
Check Name Availability:
Do a name search with the Tennessee Secretary of State to check your LLC name’s availability. If you are unsure about what to name your LLC, use our business name generator to brainstorm business names.
Register Your Domain Name:
You’ll want to check that your business name (or something very similar) is available as a web domain.
Find a Domain Now
Article 2: Name Consent
If you’ve chosen a name that is already in use by another business and have gotten the business’s consent to use the name for your LLC, check the box in this section.
Article 3: Additional Designations
List any additional designations your business may have. Some examples may include:
- Captive Insurance Company
- Insurance Company
- Litigation Financier
- Nonprofit LLC
- Professional LLC
- Series LLC
- Trust Company
Your LLC will need approval for these designations.
Article 4: Registered Agent and Registered Office
Your Tennessee registered agent can be either an individual or business entity, like a registered agent service.
If it is a business entity, it can be both a domestic entity or a foreign entity, as long as they are registered to do business in Tennessee.
When it comes to individuals, keep in mind that they are legally required to be Tennessee residents in order to act as your business’s registered agent.
In this article, make sure to fill in the physical address of the registered agent you’ll be using for your Tennessee LLC.
Recommended: Get a year of free of registered agent services when you form your LLC with Northwest ($29 + State Fees).
Article 5: Fiscal Year Close Month
By default, the Tennessee Secretary of State assumes the fiscal year close month is December. You can, however, designate any month as your year-end-month for your business.
Article 6: Effective Date and Time
The Secretary of State assumes that an LLC’s effective date is the date that the company is filed with the state. If your LLC has a delayed effective date (within 90 days of formation), list the date and the time.
Article 7: Management
Select whether your LLC will be managed by members, managers, or directors.
Article 8: Number of Members
List the number of initial members your LLC will have.
Article 9: Period of Duration
Select whether your LLC’s duration will be perpetual or if the business will dissolve on a certain date.
Article 10: Principal Executive Office
Provide the physical business address of your LLC’s principal office. This address should not be a P.O. box.
Article 11: Mailing Address
Provide the mailing address of the LLC if it is different from the principal office address.
Articles 12–14: Additional Designation Certification
If your LLC is a nonprofit LLC, a professional LLC, or a series LLC (as noted in Article 3), check the applicable box indicating that your LLC meets the necessary requirements.
Article 15: Obligated Member Entity
Obligated members are those responsible for the debt of the LLC. Indicate whether your LLC will be registered as an Obligated Member Entity, the effective date, and your acknowledgment of understanding.
Article 16: Entity Prohibition
Check the box in Article 16 if your LLC is prohibited from doing business in Tennessee.
Article 17: Other Provisions
If there is any additional information not otherwise covered by the other articles, detail it in this section.
How to Submit the Articles of Organization
You can mail or hand-deliver this form:
Secretary of State’s office at 6th FL
Snodgrass Tower ATTN:
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave.
Nashville, TN 37243
To file online, use the Tennessee Online Business Portal. You will need to create an account.
Steps After Filing the Articles of Organization
After you have filed your Articles of Organization, we recommend taking the following steps:
1. Get an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax ID Number, can be thought of as your business’s Social Security number. It is used by the IRS to identify your business and ensure that it is operating legitimately.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an LLC is required to obtain an EIN if:
- It hires employees
- It is required to file excise tax forms
- It is a multi-member LLC
- It withholds taxes for non-wage income paid to nonresident aliens
That being said, we recommend that all LLCs get an EIN so that they can open a business bank account.
You can apply for an EIN for your LLC by filing Form SS-4.
2. Create an Operating Agreement
LLC operating agreements are legal documents that outline the responsibilities, duties, and rights of all members of your LLC.
Even though state law does not require you to draft a Tennessee LLC operating agreement, it is still highly recommended. This is the case even if you operate as a single-member LLC (e.g., to avoid piercing your corporate veil, etc.).
Recommended: Use our free LLC operating agreement template to create your very own LLC operating agreement quickly.
3. Apply for Business Licenses
After you have registered your LLC and applied for your EIN, you will want to ensure that your business remains “legitimate”. You can do this by applying for any local, state, and federal business licenses that you may need.
For a more in-depth overview, see our guide on how to get business licenses in Tennessee.
4. Create a Business Website
Now is a good time to build a business website. A business website adds to your credibility, branding, marketing, and customer experience.
Your website can also be a gateway to your other platforms, including your LLC’s social media accounts, online stores, and contact information.
Recommended Service: Check out the GoDaddy Website Builder to get started.
5. Get a Business Bank Account
Next, you will want to open a separate bank account. This can offer both legal and financial benefits.
Choosing to open a business bank account can allow you to:
- Allow you to accept credit card payments
- Offer high-yield savings accounts
Most premium online banks also come with third-party integrations, including accounting and ecommerce tools. These can help you manage your budget, automatically detract a percentage of your revenue for your LLC taxes, and expedite your online payments.
Besides the financial benefits, opening a business bank account can allow you maintain your LLC’s corporate veil by separating your personal and business finances.
Recommended: Interested in getting started? See our in-depth review of the best banks for startups and entrepreneurs in 2023.
6. Build Business Credit
When you are just starting your business, you will need to build your business credit from the ground up. The fastest way to do this is by opening net 30 accounts and getting a business credit card:
- First, you will want to open at least five net 30 accounts that report to business credit bureaus.
- Then, you can apply for an easy-approval business credit card from a company like BILL.
Taking these steps will help you increase your business’s cash flow and build business credit fast, which will be essential when you are applying for higher-end business credit cards and large business loans in the future.
See our How to Build Business Credit guide for more information.
7. Find a Business Phone System
You will also likely want to invest in a business phone system. This can go a long way in improving your credibility and can ensure that you have placed yourself in a position that always allows you to provide adequate customer service.
Most high-end business phone systems will include the following features:
- Unlimited calling
- Conference calling
- Voicemail transcription
- Toll-free and vanity phone numbers
- Team collaboration tools
- Hold music
Recommended: Check out our review of the best business phone systems to get started.
8. Get Business Insurance
As a business owner, you will also want to consider whether you will benefit from purchasing business insurance.
This will be highly dependent on your industry, amount of risk, and business operations. It can also depend on the existence — and number — of employees in your LLC.
There are several business insurance policies that you may want to consider, although this can be highly situational. Below we have provided an overview of the most common small business insurance policies:
See our Small Business Insurance article for more information.
9. Taxes and Accounting
Next, you will want to learn everything you need to know about how LLCs are taxed. This is important because LLCs are a very flexible business entity, and — depending on the situation — can choose to be taxed as:
- Pass-through entities
- C corps
- S corps
Generally speaking, we recommend talking to a professional attorney or law firm if you are in need of the most up-to-date tax advice (e.g., whether you need to pay sales tax, etc.).
Working with an accountant can help you manage all your business expenses and taxes effectively and on time, and ensure you do not face any penalties or back taxes when starting out.
Need help with accounting? Check out our review of the best accounting software.