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Obtain a Business License

Generally, every in-state business is subject to business tax and therefore, must obtain a business license before engaging in business in this state. Licenses are obtained from the city clerk and county clerk where the business is located. Each license is $15

The licenses vary based upon gross sales thresholds, which are as follows: 

  • No business license:  Under $3,000 in gross sales.  
  • Minimum activity license: Between $3,000 and $100,000* in gross sales.  A business tax account and filing are not required with a minimum activity license.  A business will renew directly with their local county clerk's office.  
  • Standard business license:  More than $100,000* in gross sales.  A business tax account and filing are required with a standard business license.  Filing and paying business tax with the Department of Revenue renews your business license with your local county clerk's office.  

*Please note that the $100,000 thresholds for in-state businesses and out-of-state businesses that are not contractors were updated as a result of a law change in Public Chapter 377 (2023) and apply to tax years beginning on or after December 31, 2023.

To obtain a business license, apply at the county in which your business is located

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Alcoholic Beverage Commission Licenses

If a business is in a jurisdiction that has approved sales of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, it may apply for a license to engage in such sales from the Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC). The ABC has numerous licenses for various types of businesses. Each license type has its own eligibility requirements and annual privilege tax based on the type and size of the business.

Please visit the Alcoholic Beverage Commission website for more information on how to apply and any licensing requirements.  

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Tobacco License

If you sell, distribute, or handle cigarettes or other tobacco products at the wholesale level (i.e., not as a retailer selling to the consumer), regardless of whether you are subject to the tobacco tax or not, you must obtain a license to do so in Tennessee. 

You can apply for a license using the Tennessee Taxpayer Access Point (TNTAP) application

For more information about tobacco licenses, including relevant fees and renewal dates, visit our tobacco tax page.