Search
Search & Choose State
  • Location:

  • Car Registration in Tennessee

    SUMMARY: How to Register a Vehicle in Tennessee

    To register your vehicle in Tennessee, you'll need your title, proof of identity and residency, an odometer disclosure statement (if applicable), and payment for your registration fees. You can also obtain a temporary operation permit to allow for time to gather your required paperwork. Some counties also require emissions inspections prior to registration.

    The Tennessee Department of Revenue (DOR) requires registration of all vehicles using the Tennessee roads and highways. Getting a vehicle title and registration is the same process in Tennessee, so you may do both at once.

    This page is dedicated strictly to first time vehicle registration for new residents and recently purchased vehicles. Residents of Tennessee who already have a registration should check out the registration renewal page.

    NOTE: For details on other vehicle types, such as custom-built cars and trailer registrations, please visit our guide to Other Vehicle Registrations.

    New to Tennessee?

    If you live in a county that requires emissions testing, you will need to get that taken care of prior to applying for registration and titling. You must visit the local county clerk's office in the county where you live to register and title your car or truck.

    At the county clerk's office:

    • Submit passed emissions test paperwork, if required (see Vehicle Emissions Inspections below).
      • Payment for the emissions test will be taken at the county clerk's office.
    • Present the current or most recent out-of-state registration.
    • Submit the out-of-state title.
      • Have the name and address of the lienholder if you have a loan out on the vehicle.
    • Provide proof of identification (U.S. driver's license, birth certificate, military ID, etc.).
    • Provide proof of residency (rental or mortgage agreement, utility bill, paycheck stub, etc.).
    • Pay all required fees.

    TN Auto Insurance

    Insurance from a TN authorized insurance company is not required to register your vehicle for the first time. However, It is illegal to drive without insurance, and you can have your license suspended if you cannot provide proof of insurance if you're pulled over or in an accident. A STOP can be put on your driving record, which will keep you from registering a car or renewing your registration. You will need to visit your local county clerk to have the STOP removed before you can apply for or renew your registration.

    Registering a Vehicle in TN

    You must visit the local county clerk's office in person when you purchase a vehicle, whether it is from a dealership or a private party.

    Register a New Vehicle

    Go to your local county clerk's office and:

    • Submit the Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin. You will get this from the dealership when you purchase the vehicle.
    • Provide the new vehicle invoice from the dealership.
    • Give the county clerk your current registration from your old vehicle, if you are going to transfer your license plates to the new vehicle.
    • Provide proof of identification (U.S. driver's license, birth certificate, military ID, etc.).
    • Submit proof of residency (rental or mortgage agreement, utility bill, paycheck stub, etc.).
    • Pay all the applicable fees and taxes.

    The TN Department of Revenue provides lists of acceptable identity and residency documents for you to reference.

    Register a Used Vehicle

    At your local county clerk's office, provide:

    • A valid certificate of title properly filled out by the seller.
    • The odometer disclosure statement (Form RV-F1317001) for vehicles less than 10 years old.
    • Your current registration, if you are transferring the license plates.
    • Proof of identification (U.S. driver's license, birth certificate, military ID, etc.).
    • Proof of residency (rental or mortgage agreement, utility bill, paycheck stub, etc.).
    • Payment for all registration fees and taxes.

    You can view the DOR’s lists of acceptable identity and residency documents.

    Temporary Operation Permits

    If you're unable to produce any of the required registration or titling documents, you may be eligible to obtain a temporary vehicle permit. Temporary permits are valid for 30 days. To apply go to your local county clerk's office or Department of Revenue office and provide:

    • Ownership documents for your vehicle.
    • Proof of action being taken to fix your titling/registration issues.
    • Your TN driver's license.
    • A completed Application for Temporary Operation Permit (Form F1314401)
    • Payment for the $10 fee.

    If granted, you will be able to operate your vehicle while your titling/registration issues are handled. If you need a temporary permit but your situation doesn't have to do with titling or registration issues, contact the DOR at (615) 741-3101.

    NOTE: You will not be eligible for a temporary operation permit due to a failed vehicle inspection. Permits are also not issued for salvaged vehicles.

    Tennessee Military Vehicle Registration

    The process for registering a vehicle for military personnel depends upon whether the service member is a resident of Tennessee serving in the state, a military resident stationed out of state, or a non-resident stationed in Tennessee.

    Non-Residents Stationed in TN

    Military members from other states are not required to register their vehicles in Tennessee, as long as they maintain current registration and insurance in their home-of-record.

    If you do want to register a vehicle in Tennessee, you must visit the county clerk's office where the military base is located. Follow the instructions listed in the New to Tennessee? section of this page.

    Tennessee Military Residents

    If you are a TN resident serving in the state, simply follow the process outlined above for all Tennessee residents.

    If you're a military resident of Tennessee currently stationed elsewhere, you can register your vehicle through the mail. You may send the paperwork for the registration and title to any county clerk's office in the state.

    Registering a New Vehicle

    Send the following to a county clerk's office:

    • Manufacturer's statement of origin completed by the dealership, including the odometer reading.
    • Itemized bill of sale.
    • All lienholder agreements and paperwork, if you are taking out a loan for the vehicle.
    • Proof of a passed emissions test, if registering in a county that requires emissions tests.
      • Because you can register in any county, you will need to find out if the county you are registering in requires emissions testing.
    • Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).
    • Military orders showing current station assignment.
    • Current mailing address.
    • Daytime telephone number.
    • Payment for all registration fees.
      • Contact the county clerk's office where you are sending the information to find out what fees are required. Fees can be different from county to county depending on local tax rates.

    Registering a Used Vehicle

    Send the following to a county clerk's office:

    • Previous vehicle title assigned to you by the seller of the vehicle.
      • Odometer information on the title must be properly completed.
      • Send a separate odometer disclosure statement (Form RV-F1317001) if the title does not have a place for odometer disclosure.
      • Used vehicles purchased from a car dealer must have a title extension form if the back of the title is full.
    • All lienholder agreements and paperwork, if you are taking out a loan for the vehicle.
    • Paperwork for an emissions test, if registering in a county that requires emissions tests.
      • Because you can register in any county, you will need to find out if the county you are registering in requires emissions testing.
    • Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).
    • Military orders showing current station assignment.
    • Current mailing address.
    • Daytime telephone number.
    • Payment for all fees required.
      • Contact the county clerk's office where you are sending the information to find out what fees are required. Fees can be different from county to county depending on local tax rates.

    If you have questions, you can contact the Tennessee DOR at (615) 741-3101.

    Vehicle Registration Fees

    Tennessee has standard titling and registration fees for registering your car or truck. In addition, you will be required to pay local taxes determined by the county you are registering in. Contact your local county clerk's office to determine those costs.

    Please reference the DOR’s Vehicle Title & Registration Reference Guide for a full list of the fees you may be charged when registering your vehicle.

    Vehicle Emissions Inspections in TN

    Depending on your county of residence, you may be required to complete an emissions inspection before registering your vehicle. The counties in Tennessee that require emissions testing are:

    • Hamilton County.
    • Rutherford County.
    • Sumner County.
    • Williamson County.
    • Wilson County.
    • Shelby County.
    • Davidson County.

    You will need to have your title or registration for your vehicle in order to have the test completed.

    The test will cost $9. Payment must be cash and bills larger than $20 will not be accepted.

    Visit the Smog and Emissions Checks in Tennessee page for more information.

    Replacing a Lost TN Registration

    If your vehicle registration has been lost or damaged, you can request a duplicate by mail or in person at your local county clerk’s office.

    You'll need to provide:

    • Your license plate number.
    • Your vehicle identification number (VIN).
    • Payment for the $3 fee.

    If your registration requires certification, such as that for an antique or commercial vehicle, you'll need to add an extra $.50 to the $3 fee.

    Submit this to your local county clerk's office in person, or use their mailing address to submit it by mail.

    TN License Plates

    Tennessee offers various types of license plates for drivers, including standard, vanity, and specialty plates. Many are available at the county clerk's office and you can pick them up when you register your vehicle.

    If a license plate is not available, you will need to order the plate to be delivered to your county clerk's office for you to pick up.

    Visit our page on license plates & placards in Tennessee for more information.

    Be a Hero
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 0

    heroes have registered as organ donors.