1. Reasons for Conducting an LLC Name Search
2. Guidelines for Choosing a Business Name

A Tennessee LLC search allows you to check business name availability against registered LLCs in the state, as well as look up details on existing businesses.

Reasons for conducting an LLC name search include the following:

  • You want to use a specific name, so you need to see if it's available to use in Tennessee. 
  • You want to check the status of an existing entity.

You can do a quick search using the Tennessee secretary of state website. There are several things you need to do if you want to form an LLC:

  1. You'll choose an appropriate name that adheres to certain guidelines for naming an LLC. 
  2. Use the name availability tool to see if the name you want to use is available. 
  3. Check to see if your desired business name is available as a URL, even if you don't have current plans for a website. By securing rights to the domain name early, you prevent someone else from getting it.
  4. Consider securing an email address that relates to your desired LLC name as well.

You can conduct a business entity search to get the following information on a business: 

  • Whether the business has been legally formed
  • Whether the business is in good standing 
  • The business's address 
  • The registered agent's address

You can use the business entity search tool to conduct administrative tasks for your Tennessee LLC, including filing your annual report and obtaining a certificate of good standing.

Guidelines for Choosing a Business Name

In Tennessee, you can't name a business something that implies certain authorization that the business doesn't actually have. For instance, you can't give your business a name that suggests it provides medical services if you're not actually a medical professional.

Your LLC has to have one of the following at the end of its name: 

The most commonly used term is LLC.

Your LLC name can't imply it's a corporation, so the following are not allowed in your business name: 

  • Incorporated 
  • Corporation 
  • Inc. 
  • Corp.

Your LLC name has to be distinct and distinguishable from existing names, meaning it can't be too similar to other names you might find in your search. It's not enough to have a different designator (the identifier at the end of a business name) than an existing business, as this doesn't create distinguishability.

Other aspects of a business name that don't create distinguishability include the following: 

  • Different articles, such as a, the, or an 
  • Variances in the form of a word, such as singular vs. plural vs. possessive 
  • Conjunctions, such as and or or
  • The ampersand symbol vs. the word and
  • Numerical digits vs. written-out numbers 
  • Certain punctuation, like periods, hyphens, commas, slashes, etc.

In Tennessee, you can't use a name that implies affiliation with the following types of organizations, unless your affiliation with them is real: 

  • Veterans 
  • Fraternal 
  • Service 
  • Charitable 
  • Religious 
  • Professional organizations 

You also can't use a name that implies any affiliation with the government, unless the affiliation is real.

Your desired name must be unique, so it can't be too similar to existing names. If you can't use the name you wish to use — because it's already being used or it's too similar to another name — use some creativity to make up a new, distinguishable name. After all, you want your business to stand out from others.

Other tips to consider when thinking up LLC names include the following: 

  • Choose an LLC name that's easy to spell.
  • Make it short, so people can remember it easily.
  • Choose a name with a positive connotation that leaves people with a good feeling when they hear it.
  • Pick a name that makes it easy to find your business.

You can begin a simple search at the secretary of state website. A quick search will provide some initial information when trying to check the availability of a business name. You can also use the search tool to get important information on existing businesses. If you need more in-depth information, Tennessee often provides additional tips, forms, and guidelines via its site, or you can try and reach someone by phone during office hours.

If you need help with an LLC search in Tennessee or another state, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.