How to Start an LLC in Tennessee

L L C members happy after starting an L L C in Tennessee

It’s easy to form an LLC in Tennessee online yourself. Just follow these steps:

  1. Name Your LLC
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. File the TN Articles of Organization
  4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN

Or, use a professional service:

four point eight out of five stars Northwest Registered Agent ($29 + State Filing Fee)

three point four out of five stars LegalZoom ($79 + State Filing Fee)

Starting an LLC in Tennessee is Easy

You can get a Tennessee LLC online by registering the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. The cost to form an LLC in Tennessee is $50 per member (with a minimum fee of $300 and a maximum of $3,000).

Follow our How to Start an LLC in Tennessee guide below to get started.

Steps to form an L L C in Tennessee

To learn how to form an LLC in any state, visit our How to Start an LLC guide.

Step 1: Create A Name For Your Tennessee LLC

Before you register your Tennessee LLC, you'll need to come up with a name. Your business name needs to be catchy for branding purposes and legitimate for legal purposes.

We go into depth on this topic in our LLC naming guide. We’ll go over the basics below.

Naming Your LLC

First, brainstorm some possibilities. Use our LLC name generator to get the ideas flowing.

Next, make sure your name meets Tennessee guidelines:

  • it contains the words limited liability company, limited company, LLC, or L.L.C.
  • it doesn't contain restricted words or phrases (these often include words like bank, attorney, and university) without approval
  • it's distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in Tennessee
  • full list of Tennessee naming guidelines

Next, do a Tennessee LLC name search with the Secretary of State to find out if your name is available in Tennessee.

If your business name is available and meets guidelines, you’ll be able to register it when you file your Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.

Is the URL available? Before you commit 100% to a name, check to see if there’s a good web domain available.

We recommend buying your domain right away because even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it will be soon.

Find a Domain Now

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Once you register a domain name for your LLC, consider setting up a business phone system to establish credibility and enhance your customer service. Nextiva provides a plethora of useful features and a quick, easy setup. Try Nextiva.

Using a Tennessee Assumed Name (DBA)

A Tennessee DBA (doing business as), also known as an assumed name, is any registered name that a business operates under that isn't its legal business name. An assumed name can be used by any type of business, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC).

Learn how to get a DBA in our Tennessee DBA guide.

Step 2: Appoint A Tennessee Registered Agent

When you file your Articles of Organization, you'll need to list a registered agent.

A registered agent's job is to accept legal documents like service of process and tax notices for your LLC. To learn more about Tennessee Registered Agents, read our guide.

Your registered agent can be a person or a registered agent service. You can act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to use a registered agent service.

Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own registered agent:

  • You’ll need to be available during normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide
  • If you run your business from home, you’ll have to make your personal address public
  • You could be served with a lawsuit in front of your family or coworkers

Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers a free year of registered agent services when you form your LLC ($29 plus state fees).

Step 3: File the Tennessee LLC Articles of Organization

It’s time to officially form your LLC by filing your Articles of Organization with the Tennessee Secretary of State.

You can file online with the Secretary of State or fill out a hard copy of the TN Articles of Organization and mail it in or deliver it in person. The filing fee is $50 per member, with a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $3000. 

Recommended: Now is a good time to decide if your LLC will be member-managed vs manager-managed.

You'll need to know the following information to complete the form:

  1. Entity Name
  2. Name Consent (if applicable)
  3. Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
  4. Fiscal Year Close Month
  5. Effective Date and Duration
  6. Governing Authority Type (LLC Management Structure)
  7. Number of Members
  8. Principal Office Address and Mailing Address

For more detailed help with completing the form, visit our Tennessee Articles of Organization guide.

Mail Your Articles of Organization:

Send the form and payment (payable to the Secretary of State) to:

6th floor - Snodgrass Tower
Attn: Corporate Filing
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave.
Nashville, TN 37243

Submit In Person: 
6th floor - Snodgrass Tower
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave.
Nashville, TN 37243

How long does it take to get a Tennessee LLC approved? LLC processing time is 24 hours online, 3 to 5 business days by mail.

Step 4: Create A Tennessee LLC Operating Agreement

Creating a Tennessee LLC operating agreement is the only way to legally lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having an operating agreement in place will give you something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises. 

Even single-member LLCs benefit from having an operating agreement.

Your operating agreement should outline the following:

  • Each member’s responsibilities
  • How new members will be admitted
  • How existing members may transfer or terminate their membership
  • How profits and dividends will be distributed

You can add as many provisions as you want, as long as they don't conflict with Tennessee business law. Take a look at our What is an Operating Agreement guide to learn more.

Download a template or create a custom Free Operating Agreement using our tool.

Step 5: Get an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a Social Security number (SSN) for your company. The IRS and the state of Tennessee will use this number to track your business activity.

Your EIN will come in handy when it’s time to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File Federal and State taxes
  • Hire employees

The best way to get an EIN for your LLC in Tennessee is by using the free online application on the IRS website.

Read our Get an EIN guide for instructions.

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Steps After Forming an LLC in Tennessee

After forming your Tennessee LLC, it's important to:

Open A Business Bank Account

A business bank account helps separate personal expenses and company expenses, which is required to maintain your Tennessee LLC's corporate veil. A corporate veil protects your personal assets from creditors in potential lawsuits against your LLC or Business.

Learn more by reading this guide to Banking for Entrepreneurs. For a multi-member LLC, you'll also want to set up capital accounts for LLC members. We also recommend checking out our review of the best business bank accounts.

Get A Business Credit Card

A business credit card will help separate personal and business expenses while building your company's credit history. A strong credit history will be useful for raising capital in the form of venture capital, angel investment, or small business loans.

Set Up Business Accounting

Hiring a business accountant is one of the best ways to ensure you’re taking advantage of LLC tax benefits; possibly saving you and your business thousands of dollars per year.

When forming an LLC in Tennessee, it’s a good idea to start a relationship with a business accountant as soon as you start your business to help set your company up for success.

Get Business Insurance

Business insurance helps manage risk. The most common forms of business insurance are general liability, professional liability, and workers' compensation.

Find out the real cost of getting insurance for your business. Get a free quote or call 855-965-3168.

Keep Your Company Compliant

Research Tennessee Business Licenses and Permits

To operate an LLC in Tennessee, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations such as health permits, building permits, and signage permits. 

Business licensing and permit requirements vary from state to state. To get started, visit our How to Get a Business License in Tennessee guide. To help facilitate this process, you can also utilize a business license service.

File Your Tennessee LLC Annual Report

Tennessee LLCs must submit an annual report online to the Secretary of State each year. The filing fee depends on the number of members you have, with a minimum fee of $300 and a maximum fee of $3,000.

Understand Tennessee State Tax Requirements

Tennessee businesses selling a physical product are generally required to register for a seller’s permit with the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Visit our Tennessee Sales Tax guide to learn more about seller’s permits and Tennessee sales tax.

If you have employees in Tennessee, you will also need to register for unemployment insurance tax through the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.

Additionally, all Tennessee LLCs must pay franchise and excise taxes to the Department of Revenue. The franchise tax rate is 0.25% on either the net worth or real and tangible property of the business (whichever is greater), with a minimum payment of $100. The excise tax rate is 6.5% on the business’s taxable income.

Understand Your Tennessee LLC’s Federal Tax Requirements

Most Tennessee LLCs will need to report their income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year using Form 1065: Partnership Return (multi-member LLCs) or Form 1040 - Schedule C (single-member LLCs).

How you pay yourself will affect your federal taxes. Visit our guide to learn more about how to pay yourself from your LLC.

Know Your Tennessee LLC’s Federal Tax Election Options

Pass-through taxation entails a business’s profits passing through to the LLC member’s individual tax returns. Like a sole proprietorship, an LLC is taxed as a pass-through entity, also known as a disregarded entity. 

Once this process is completed and after any tax-deductible expenses are taken out, the LLC members pay self-employment taxes and income tax on their portion of the business income. 

Alternatively, Tennessee LLCs can choose to elect to be taxed as an S corporation (S corp) or C corporation (C corp). If S corporation tax status is elected, LLC members can be taxed as employees of the business, potentially reducing tax burden.

More LLC Resources

  • Tennessee Foreign LLCs: Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. Download the Tennessee foreign LLC form to get started.
  • Tennessee Certificate of Good Standing: A certificate of good standing verifies that your LLC was legally formed. To order, follow our Tennessee certificate of good standing guide.
  • Dissolving a Tennessee LLC: If you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Tennessee LLC Dissolution Guide.
  • LLC Legal Forms: TRUiC offers a number of free LLC legal forms including operating agreements, LLC resolutions, and hiring documents.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

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