Apply For A Business License Memphis, Tennessee

I want to operate a business in Memphis, Tennessee. Do I need to apply?

The majority of businesses located within the City of Memphis should apply for a business license also called a Business Tax License. There are a few exceptions. Certain professionals such as attorneys, insurance agents, accountants, disabled persons, and businesses that gross less than $3,000.00 a year are not required to obtain a Business Tax License.

If you are unclear if your business will be classified as “exempt” please contact Shelby County at (901) 545-4252. It is required that the License Number that is issued from the Business Tax License is recorded with the Purchasing Service Center before the issuance of any contract or purchase order. All businesses must register with the County Clerk’s Office within 20 days of the start of the business. If you do not, fees may apply.

How can I apply?

Although it is required to be licensed through the City of Memphis and Shelby County, you only need to complete an application with Shelby County. They will send your request to the City of Memphis on your behalf. You may go to to complete your application online. A remittance fee of $15.00 is required upon submitting your application. You may submit your application online. The business license application link is found on the bottom of the page.  

If you wish to submit your application in person, Shelby County has two locations for the ease of its citizens. For those closest to the downtown area the address is 150 Washington Avenue, Second Floor, Memphis, TN 38103. The phone number for this office is (901) 545-4249. If you are nearer to the east side of town, the address is 1075 Mullins Station Road, Memphis, TN 38134. The phone number for this office is (901) 379-7099.

I want to operate a hotel or motel. Are there any special considerations?

As far as applying for a hotel or motel, the process is the same. You may apply online with Shelby County at or you may apply in person. The office address is found below. Call (901) 545-4249 if you have an inquiry specific to hotels and motels. Shelby County Clerk is allowed to charge a privilege tax upon the occupancy of any hotel, motel, or bed or breakfast of 5% for each transient. This is known as the Room Occupancy Tax.

As a new business owner I want to save money. Is it possible to purchase used items?

Surplus property such as abandoned, recovered, and stolen property can be bought from the City Purchasing Service Center by way of auctions or by sealed bids. Many business owners find this to be a useful service as it lowers the cost to get started. It is suggested that you contact the City Purchasing Agent for details at (901) 576-6683 or visit the City of Memphis’ website at

Any other questions?

You may contact the City of Memphis or Shelby County or both if you have more questions. Their contact information is as follows:

Shelby County, Business Tax Division
Downtown Office
150 Washington Avenue, Second Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 545-4249

Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

East Branch Office
1075 Mullins Station Road
Memphis, TN 38134
(901) 379-7099

Hours of operation: Monday though Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

City of Memphis, Finance Department
125 North Main Street, Room 354
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 576-6683

You may additionally contact the Tennessee Department of Revenue at (800) 342-1003 for general information on operating and owning a business within the State of Tennessee.

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This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.


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