License Plates & Placards in Tennessee
Keep reading to find out more about license plates and tags from the Tennessee Department of Revenue (DOR) Vehicle Services Division.
NOTE: Are you eligible for disability parking? Get application information and other helpful details on our Disabled Plates and Placards page.
Vehicles in TN must have a license plate on the rear and have the following decals attached to it:
- Your county of registration at the bottom.
- The month your plate expires in the upper left corner.
- The expiration year in the upper right corner.
In addition to the standard license plate design, the TN DOR offers several specialty plates, including personalized plates and organizational plates.
The TN DOR also issues disabled parking plates for those with a qualifying disability.
When you buy a vehicle, you can get temporary tags from:
- Your vehicle dealer.
- The TN DOR.
A vehicle dealer can issue Dealer Drive-out Tags, which allow you to operate your vehicle for up to 30 days while waiting for your Tennessee license plate. The fee is $5.50.
The TN DOR may give you a Temporary Operation Permit if you have a problem with your vehicle title. Learn more about these permits on the TN DOR website.
Applying for license plates in Tennessee is part of the vehicle registration process.
You're required to register your vehicle at your county clerk’s office when you move to TN or get a new vehicle.
For complete details, including fees and required documents, see our Vehicle Registration page.
You must renew your tags by renewing your vehicle registration before your license plate expires.
The TN DOR offers registration renewal online, by mail, or in person.
After you pay your renewal fees, you'll get a new expiration decal to put over the old one.
See our Registration Renewal page for more information.
If your Tennessee license plate or decal has been lost, stolen, or damaged, you can apply for replacements from your TN county clerk’s office.
You MUST report lost or stolen tags to local law enforcement.
To get replacement license plates or decals, you will need:
- The Application for Duplicate/Replacement License Plate or Decal (Form RV-F1315301). The application requires:
- Certification that you reported loss or theft to the police.
- A notarized signature.
- Your Certificate of Registration.
- Payment for the applicable fee:
- License plate: $11.75.
- Decal: It is free to replace only the decal.
- Service fee: Varies by county.
Contact your Tennessee county clerk’s office for county fees and submission instructions.
If you no longer have your vehicle, you can either transfer or surrender your license plates to the Tennessee DOR.
You CAN transfer your plates from a car you sold or traded to another car you've just bought. You CANNOT transfer your license plates to another person.
You will have to pay:
- Any difference in registration fees.
- The $1 transfer fee.
NOTE: You may also be responsible for additional title fees, taxes, and service fees.
You must surrender your license plates if:
- You're no longer eligible for a special plate, such as a disability parking plate.
- You replace your personalized plate with a standard plate.
Surrender your plate at your TN county clerk’s office along with payment for the $1 fee, plus any county service fees.
In addition to the license plate fees below, you may also need to pay taxes, title fees, service fees, or other fees when you register and title your vehicle.
Most of the specialty license plates are available at your local Tennessee county clerk's office. If you're applying for a personalized standard or specialty plate, you must complete the Application for Tennessee Personalized License Plate (Form RV-F1314001) and mail it to:
Vehicle Services Division
44 Vantage Way, Suite 160
Nashville, TN 37243
Do not mail your renewal notice or regular fee with this application.
The appropriate fees for each specialty plate, and whether that plate can be personalized, can found on the application form.
Antique Plates in Tennessee
To qualify for antique plates, a vehicle must:
- Be over 25 years old.
- Have a body and engine unaltered from its original specifications.
- Be used for antique exhibitions, parades, and other related activities; it may only be used for general transportation on weekends.
The plates have a single fee of $27.75 and are permanent as long as there isn't a change in ownership.
For more information, visit Tennessee's specialty plate page, or contact the Vehicle Services Section by calling (615) 741-3101 or (888) 871-3171. You can also visit or write to them at:
Vehicle Services Section
44 Vantage Way, Suite 160
Nashville, TN 37243
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