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  • Plate Surrender in Tennessee

    You don’t have to return your Tennessee license plate if you move to another state, but there are other times when you’ll need to hand over your plate.

    Moving to Tennessee

    You don’t have to surrender your old license plate when you move to Tennessee; you’ll register your car here and receive new TN license plates.

    However, your old state might want the plate back.

    There’s a drop down menu at the top of this page. Select your old state and learn more about its policies on returning license plates.

    Moving from TN

    Good news! You don’t have to return your license plate if you move to another state.

    That’s a relief, right? There’s enough to do during a move, after all.

    Once you get settled in your new state, though, remember to cancel your registration and insurance associated with that plate; otherwise, you leave yourself open to responsibility if the plate is lost or stolen.

    Selling a Used Car

    In TN, license plates stay with the owners, not the vehicles.

    So, when you sell your used car, remove the license plate before the buyer drives off. As long as it’s valid, you can transfer it to another car you own. If you don’t want to transfer your plate, be sure to cancel the registration and insurance associated with it.

    Oh, and don’t worry about the new owner: If he doesn’t transfer his own plate, he’ll get a new one when he completes the title transfer and vehicle registration processes.

    Buying a Used Car

    The process is similar if you’re buying a used car. The seller will remove his license plate and you can transfer your own valid plate to the vehicle or apply for a new plate when you complete the title transfer and register the car in your name.

    Surrendering Plates: Other Situations

    Although TN lets you hang on to your plate during most situations, there are times when you’ll need to surrender it.

    Be prepared to hand over your license plate if:

    • You no longer qualify for the plate. For example, if you have a firefighter plate but you’re no longer a firefighter.
    • You no longer want a specialty or personalized plate, and need a standard license plate.

    During either of these situations, you’ll surrender the plate to your county clerk.

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