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Motorcycle Registration in Tennessee

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All Tennesseans must register their motorcycle with the Vehicle Services Division of the Department of Revenue (DOR) before riding on roadways is permitted. The DOR works in conjunction with local county clerk's offices.

Use this guide to learn more about Tennessee motorcycle registration if you're a new TN resident OR if you're a current resident who recently bought a bike.

Looking for info on registration renewal? Jump over to our TN Registration Renewal section!

New Tennessee Residents

BEFORE you can register your motorcycle, you'll need to complete an emissions test if you live in a qualifying Tennessee county. Head over to our TN safety and emissions inspection guide for more.

After having your motorcycle inspected (if needed), you can register your bike by bringing the following to your local county clerk's office:

  • Your motorcycle's current out-of-state title AND registration.
    • If there is a lien, provide the lienholder's name and address.
  • An emissions certificate (if applicable).
  • Proof of:
  • Payment for the necessary motorcycle registration taxes and fees.

While proof of insurance is not required to register your motorcycle, you must have Tennessee motorcycle insurance to legally ride on TN roads.

Additionally, titling will usually be done when you register your motorcycle—make sure you have all necessary title transfer documents in addition to those listed above when you visit the county clerk.

Register Your TN Motorcycle

The requirements for Tennessee motorcycle registration vary depending on whether it was purchased from a dealership OR a private seller.

Below are the steps you need to take for registration with the TN Vehicle Services Division in both scenarios.

Motorcycles Purchased at a Dealership

When you buy a motorcycle from a dealership, usually the dealer will register the bike for you. The applicable taxes and fees will be included in the purchase price; see our section below for a complete breakdown.

Double check to make sure the dealer has everything they need to register the motorcycle for you. Some dealerships may give you a temporary registration while you wait for your official plates and registration to arrive by mail.

If the dealership does not register the motorcycle for you, follow the applicable registration instructions below.

Motorcycles Purchased in Private Sales

The registration process for motorcycles bought from private sellers differs depending on whether you bought the bike new OR used.

To register a new motorcycle, you'll need to visit your local county clerk's office with:

  • The Manufacturer's Statement of Origin.
  • Your motorcycle's invoice.
  • A copy of your current registration if you want to transfer your previous license plates.
  • All appropriate fees and taxes.

To register a used motorcycle, bring the following items to your county clerk's office:

  • The motorcycle's current title signed by the buyer AND seller.
  • An Odometer Disclosure Statement (Form RV-F1317001).
  • If you'd like to transfer older license plates, a copy of your current registration.
  • Payment for the necessary taxes and fees.

Proof of insurance isn't required to register your bike; HOWEVER, you will need the proper type of motorcycle insurance to ride on Tennessee roads.

Temporary Operation Permits

If you are having a problem obtaining any of the required documents necessary for titling and registration, you may apply for a temporary operation permit until the issue is resolved.

To apply, visit your local county clerk with:

  • A completed Application for Temporary Operation Permit (Form RV-F1314401).
  • An ownership document such as:
    • The current title for the motorcycle.
    • A manufacturer's certificate of origin (MCO).
  • Proof of actions taken to fix your current titling/registration issues.
  • Your Tennessee motorcycle license.
  • The $10 temporary operation permit fee.

If you still have questions about temporary operation permits, give the TN Department of Revenue's Vehicle Services Division a call at (888) 871-3171.

TN Motorcycle Registration Fees & Taxes

Below are the fees and taxes associated with registering your motorcycle with the Tennessee DOR's Vehicle Services Division:

  • Motorcycle plates:
    • Regular: $14.50.
    • Specialized: Varies. See the DOR's fees chart for the cost specific to the type of specialized plate you'd like.
  • Temporary-operation permit: $10.
  • Registration fees and taxes: Varies by county of residence. Call your county clerk's office for details.

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