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  • Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in Tennessee

    SUMMARY: How to Apply for a Tennessee Driver's License

    To obtain a driver’s license, you must apply in person at a TN DOS office. You will need to pass a vision screening, knowledge test, and driving exam. You will need to provide various documents and pay the required fee.

    This page has instructions on applying for a driver’s license from the Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS).

    NOTE: If you are younger than 18 years old, you will need to complete the graduated driver license program. See our Applying for a New Teen License in Tennessee page for instructions.

    New to Tennessee?

    If you have a driver’s license from another state, you must have it transferred to Tennessee within 30 days of becoming a resident. You will need to visit your local Tennessee DOS office and:

    • Surrender your out-of-state driver’s license.
    • Pass a vision screening.
    • Present the following documents (originals only):
      • Proof of your legal status in the U.S. (e.g. U.S. birth certificate, permanent resident card, U.S. citizenship certificate).
      • Proof of your name change, if applicable (e.g. marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order).
      • Proof of your TN address (e.g. utility bill, bank statement, paycheck stub).
        • Must be issued within the last 4 months.
    • Provide a Social Security Number Affidavit (Form SF-1324), if you don’t have a Social Security number (SSN).
    • Have your photograph taken.
    • Pay the $19.50 fee.

    If your out-of-state driver’s license has been expired for longer than 6 months, or if you have a driver’s license from another country, you must pass the knowledge and driving tests also.

    NOTE: You will not be eligible for a TN driver’s license if your out-of-state driver’s license is suspended or revoked.

    Types of Driver’s Licenses

    The Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS) has different classes of driver’s licenses depending on what type of vehicle you will be driving.

    Apply for a TN Driver’s License

    To be eligible for a driver’s license in Tennessee you must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

    NOTE: You will be denied a driver’s license if you are:

    • Addicted to alcohol or narcotics.
    • Physically or mentally unable to operate a vehicle safely.
    • Unable to show proof of your financial responsibility, if required.

    To obtain a Tennessee driver’s license, visit your local TN DOS office and:

    • Provide proof of your:
      • Legal U.S. status (e.g. U.S. passport, work authorization card, U.S. birth certificate).
      • Identity (e.g. U.S. birth certificate, marriage license, U.S. citizenship certificate).
      • TN residency (e.g. utility bill, paycheck stub, bank statement).
        • Must be issued within the last 4 months.
      • Name change, if applicable (e.g. divorce decree, marriage certificate, court order).
    • Submit a Social Security Number Affidavit (Form SF-1324), if you don’t have a SSN.
    • Pass the DMV tests:
      • Vision screening.
      • Knowledge exam.
      • Driving test. (You will need to make an appointment to take this test.)
    • Pay the $19.50 fee.
    Unless otherwise indicated, your driver’s license will be valid for 5 years at a time.

    Knowledge and Driving Tests

    To obtain your TN driver’s license, you will need to pass both a written knowledge exam and driving skills test.

    Knowledge Exam

    Before attempting your driving test, you must first pass a knowledge exam, which will consist of questions about:

    • Traffic signs and signals.
    • Local road rules.
    • Safe driving techniques.
    • Drug and alcohol use.

    If you fail the knowledge exam, you will need to wait 7 days before you can re-take it.

    Study the TN Driver License Manual and take a few practice tests before you take your exam.

    Driving Skills Test

    You must make an appointment with the TN DOS for your road test. You can do this either:

    • Online.
      OR
    • By calling (866) 849-3548 or (615) 532-2281 (hearing impaired).

    You will need to bring your own vehicle for the test, which must be in good working condition and properly registered. Your examiner will grade you on your ability to control and maneuver the vehicle on public roads and follow local traffic laws.

    You will be given an automatic fail if you:

    • Violate any traffic law.
    • Do not follow directions given to you by the examiner.
    • Perform any dangerous actions while driving.
    • Are responsible for an accident.

    If you fail your driving test, your examiner will let you know how long you must wait before you can take it again.

    For more information, see the TN Driver Manual.

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