Paperwork When Buying a Car in Tennessee

When you purchase a car in Tennessee, you'll need specific paperwork from the seller to properly transfer ownership.

Use this guide to learn more about the requirements of the TN Department of Revenue (DOR) to title and register a vehicle following a purchase.

Looking to sell your car? Check out our guide to paperwork for sellers.

Paperwork for Tennessee Car Buyers

After buying a new or used car, you'll need certain documents from the seller in order to properly transfer ownership into your name. Which documents you'll need varies depending on whether you purchased the car from:

  • A dealership.
  • A private individual.

Cars Purchased from a Dealership

When purchasing a car from a dealership, you'll need:

  • A Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO), if the vehicle has not yet been titled in Tennessee.
  • The current title, if the vehicle is used and already has a TN title.
  • A dealer's invoice, to show the purchase price in order to determine sales tax due.

Purchases from a Private Seller

When you buy a vehicle from a private seller, you'll need to make sure the seller gives you the signed and completed title, to include:

If the seller does not have a title or it is in unusable condition, they must apply for a new title completing a Duplicate Title Application (Form RV-F131520).

For full details on transferring ownership of a vehicle, check out our guide to Title Transfers in Tennessee.

TN Vehicle Registration Paperwork

To title and register a recently-purchased vehicle, bring the paperwork listed above with you to your local DOR office, PLUS the following:

  • Proof of TN car insurance.
  • Lease or lienholder paperwork, if applicable.
  • A passing emissions certificate, if applicable.
    • Check out our guide to TN smog checks for full details and requirements.
  • Payment for all required fees due.

For more on registering your new car, including out-of-state vehicles, skip over to our car registration guide.


Odometer Disclosure Statement
Use this form to disclose the amount of miles on your vehicle when transferring ownership to someone else.
Application for Noting of Lien, Duplicate Title, or Multipurpose Use
Use this form to request a duplicate/replacement TN vehicle title.
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