How to Get a Business License in TN
You can get a business license online by applying with the correct licensing or regulatory agency for your business.
Business licensing requirements generally depend on your business’s activity and location (zoning requirements).
There are three main licensing jurisdictions:
State of Tennessee Business Licensing
The main state-level permit or license in Tennessee is the sales tax certificate, also known as a seller’s permit. This registers you for the Tennessee business tax.
You must obtain a sales tax certificate if you:
- Are engaged in business in Tennessee
- Intend to sell or lease taxable goods or services
Visit the Department of Revenue to obtain a sales tax certificate.
Additionally, businesses in certain professions or industries may be required to have additional licenses or permits. The Department of Commerce & Insurance and Department of Revenue provide information about the different types of Tennessee professional business licenses and how to obtain them.
Local Tennessee Business Licensing
In Tennessee, you may need other licenses or permits from your local government depending on your business activity or location.
Many cities in Tennessee require businesses to register to pay a business tax. The Department of Revenue provides a list of these cities. Note that certain towns that are NOT on this list may still be subject to the tax if they are governed by an adjoining incorporated city.
Some cities and counties may also require certain types of businesses to have other specific licenses or permits. For example, the City of Nashville requires pawnbrokers and certain other business activities to have a permit.
Check with your local government office for more information.
Steps for Obtaining a Business License in Tennessee
Tennessee Sales Tax Certificate
You can register to pay the Tennessee business tax and receive a sales tax certificate online. You will need to create an account to log in to the site.
Other Tennessee Business Licenses
The processes for obtaining other licenses vary. Check the state’s One-Stop Licensing App for more information on how to register for statewide professional licenses and permits, and check with your local county government for information about local business licenses.
The Tennessee sales tax certificate is automatically renewed when you file and pay your business taxes each year.
Check with the relevant state or local government office for the renewal requirements for any other licenses your business may have.
Federal Business Licenses and Permits
You can get a business license by applying with the correct licensing and regulatory agency for your business. Business licensing requirements depend on your business’s activity and location (zoning requirements).
If your business conducts activities that are regulated by the federal government, you will need to apply for the appropriate business license or permit.
Choose a business activity below to learn how to apply:
Firearms, ammunition, and explosives
Fish and wildlife
Mining and drilling
Radio and television broadcasting
Transportation and logistics
TN Business License FAQ
What is a business license?
A business license is a permit issued to businesses by a government office that allows the business to operate in a particular area. They can be issued by federal, state, or local governments. There are typically different licensing requirements for different businesses and different locations.
What are the types of business licenses?
There are many types of business licenses. These include licenses at the local, state, and federal levels, licenses related to sales tax and other taxes, and specific licenses for various professions. There are also environmental licenses, zoning permits, and more.
Is there a national business license?
Most businesses don’t need a federal business license, but some industries, including broadcasting, investment advising, and drug manufacturing, do have federal regulations and licenses.
Is an EIN the same as a business license?
No. An employer identification number (EIN) is issued by the IRS to identify and keep track of businesses, but it does not license them to operate.
Is an LLC considered a business license?
No. An LLC is a type of business structure. While you are required to register as an LLC, it is not a business license.
Who needs a Tennessee business license?
Every business that is located in Tennessee and sells taxable goods or services needs a sales tax certificate. Businesses in certain professions or locations may need other specific licenses.
What licenses do I need to open a business in Tennessee?
Most businesses will need a Tennessee sales tax certificate. Businesses in certain professions or locations may need other specific licenses.
What is a seller’s permit?
A seller’s permit is the common name for a license or permit that allows you to sell products or services. In Tennessee, this is called a sales tax certificate.
How much does a Tennessee business license cost?
There is a $15 registration fee for a Tennessee sales tax certificate. The cost of other licenses varies.
How do I get a Tennessee business license?
You can register to pay the Tennessee business tax and receive a sales tax certificate, or seller’s permit, online with the Department of Revenue. You can use the state’s One-Stop Licensing App to apply for some statewide professional licenses and permits.
Check with your local government office for information about how to obtain local licenses.
Do I have to renew my Tennessee business license?
The Tennessee sales tax certificate, or seller’s permit, is automatically renewed when you file and pay your business taxes each year. Check with the relevant state or local government office for the renewal requirements for any other licenses your business may have.