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Historic Business Licenses Are Public Records

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Reviewed Date: May 09, 2017

Original Author: 
Jones, Josh
Date of Material: 
Jan 11, 2012

Businesses--Licenses and permits
Licenses and permits
Records management--Open records

Historic Business Licenses Are Public Records

MTAS was asked whether business licenses are public record if they are more than seventy years old.

Knowledgebase-Historic Business Licenses Are Public RecordsFrom: Jones, Josh
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 9:02 AM
RE: Historic Business License

The relevant statutory section is T.C.A. § 10-7-504(c) which reads:

(c) Notwithstanding any provision of the law to the contrary, any confidential public record in existence more than seventy (70) years shall be open for public inspection by any person unless disclosure of the record is specifically prohibited or restricted by federal law or unless the record is a record of services for a person for mental illness or intellectual and developmental disabilities. The provisions of this section do not apply to a record concerning an adoption or a record maintained by the office of vital records or by the Tennessee bureau of investigation. For the purpose of providing an orderly schedule of availability for access to such confidential public records for public inspection, all records created and designated as confidential prior to January 1, 1901, shall be open for public inspection on January 1, 1985. All other public records created and designated as confidential after January 1, 1901 and which are seventy (70) years old on January 1, 1985, shall be open for public inspection on January 1, 1986; thereafter all such records shall be open for public inspection pursuant to this part after seventy (70) years from the creation date of such records.

This section is applicable to business licenses. So the general rule is 70 years.

Josh Jones
Legal Consultant
University of Tennessee
Municipal Technical Advisory Service
600 Henley Street
Suite 120
Knoxville, TN 37996-4105
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