Drivers Permits in Tennessee

Tennessee Driver's Permits

The Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS) requires all new drivers younger than 18 years old to fulfill each requirement of its graduated driver licensing (GDL) program.

The program is designed to help you gradually develop your driving abilities to increase safety and reduce the number of car accidents. You must complete 3 phases:

  • Learner's permit.
  • Intermediate restricted license.
  • Intermediate unrestricted license.

Continue reading to learn more about TN learner's permits and each stage of the process.

Tennessee REAL ID Driver's License

The TN DDS issues federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in addition to non-compliant licenses. As of May 3, 2023, only the REAL ID will function as federal identification for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings—a standard license will not after this date.

You have the choice to apply for a non-compliant license or upgrade to a REAL ID license. For more detail, visit the DDS' guide to REAL IDs.

New to Tennessee?

NOTE: If you are at least 16 years old and have held your out-of-state learner's permit for at least 180 days, you may apply for an intermediate restricted driver's license. See “TN Intermediate Restricted License" below for more information.

If you're a new TN resident with a valid out-of-state learner's permit, you must meet all of the GDL requirements to obtain a TN learner's permit or driver's license. The Tennessee DOS requires you to make the switch within 30 days of moving to Tennessee.

To apply for a Tennessee learner's permit, you must be at least 15 years old. Visit your local TN DOS office and:

  • Surrender your valid out-of-state permit.
  • Show documents to prove your:
    • Identity and citizenship or U.S. presence.
    • Tennessee residency (2 documents).
    • Social Security number.
      • The DDS offers guides to acceptable documents for both REAL IDs and non-compliant standard licenses.
      • The agent may be able to verify your SSN electronically, but bring your documents just in case.
  • Show proof of school attendance (Form SF-1010) from your previous school.
    • This form is only valid for 30 days.
    • If you already graduated, present your GED or high school diploma.
  • Pass a vision test.
  • Have a parent or guardian sign a Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation (Form SF-0259), if you are younger than 18 years old.

See “ Learner's Permit Restrictions" below for details about driving restrictions.

Apply for a TN Learner's Permit

The first step of the GDL process is getting your class PD learner's permit in Tennessee. You must be at least 15 years old to apply.

You can decide whether you want to begin the process of getting a REAL ID starting with your permit documents.

To get started, you'll need to visit your local Tennessee DOS office and:

  • Submit a completed Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation (Form SF-0259). This form also requires you and your parent or guardian to acknowledge that you understand Tennessee's financial responsibility laws.
  • Show proof of your school attendance (Form SF-1010) from your school.
    • This form is only valid for 30 days.
    • If you already graduated, present your GED or high school diploma.
  • Show proof of your:
    • Identity and U.S. citizenship or lawful presence.
    • TN residency (2 documents).
    • Social Security number. The agent may be able to verify your SSN electronically, but bring your documents just in case.
  • Pass your vision test and written knowledge exam.
  • Pay the $10.50 learner's permit fee.

If you fail the knowledge test you must wait 7 days to retake it.

Taking the Tennessee Permit Test

The written permit test in Tennessee contains a series of multiple-choice questions about the following:

  • Traffic signs and signals.
  • Safe driving principles.
  • Rules of the road.
  • Drugs and alcohol and its effects on driving ability.

To prepare for your TN knowledge test, you should read the Tennessee Driver Manual and the DOS also offers a standard practice test. Our suggestion is to prepare for the exam with an online practice test from our state-approved online practice test.

Tennessee Learner's Permit Driving Restrictions

While operating a vehicle in Tennessee with a learner's permit, you must:

  • Have a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old accompany you.
  • NOT drive between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

You are not permitted to drive if you are not supervised.

Behind-the-Wheel Driving Requirements

With a TN learner's permit, you can begin your supervised behind-the-wheel training. The Tennessee DOS requires you to complete 50 hours of driving practice, including 10 hours of at night.

Once you fulfill the behind-the-wheel requirement and have held your learner's permit for 180 days, you're eligible to apply for your intermediate restricted license.

Intermediate Restricted TN Driver's License

To apply for your intermediate restricted driver's license in Tennessee, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Have held your learner's permit for at least 180 days.
  • Have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice (including at least 10 hours at night).
  • NOT have more than 6 points on your TN driving record.

For details, visit our page on Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers).

New residents: You must bring an official motor vehicle record from your previous state issued less than 30 days before applying. You're eligible for the intermediate restricted license if:

  • You are at least 16 years old.
  • You held your out-of-state permit for at least 180 days.
  • You have had NO traffic violations or accidents.


Social Security Number Affidavit
Submit this form to the DOS when applying for a Tennessee driver's license if you DO NOT have a U.S. Social Security number.
Proof of School Attendance
Proof of school enrollment required for minors applying for a Tennessee graduated driver's license (GDL). Must be obtained from the school. Not available online.
Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation
Use this form to instate OR cancel legal responsibility for a minor in the process of getting their Tennessee driver's license.
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