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Guide to the Tennessee DMV

tennessee dmv

If you’re a car owner moving to Tennessee, or purchasing a car in Tennessee, you will need to know the basics of vehicle registration.

New Vehicle Registration in Tennessee

Getting a vehicle registration and a title is the same process in Tennessee, so you may do both at the same time. To register your vehicle, you’ll need your out of state title, proof of your identity and residency, and an odometer disclosure reading. Some counties require emissions inspections prior to registration. Tennessee has standard titling and registration fees for auto registration. You will also be required to pay local taxes determined by your county.

Tennessee Vehicle Inspections

The following counties require emissions tests on qualifying vehicles:

  • Hamilton
  • Davidson
  • Rutherford
  • Sumner
  • Williamson
  • Wilson

Emissions tests are valid for ninety days. Your vehicle will qualify if it is a model year 1975 or newer, powered by gasoline or diesel, and if it weighs 10,500 pounds or less.

Tennessee Vehicle Registration Renewal

Your county Division of Vehicle Services (DVS) will likely send you a renewal notice to remind you that your registration is about to expire. If your county requires an inspection and emissions test, you will need to get checked before you renew your registration. You have the option to renew online through the county clerk website. In general, renewal fees will be around $21.50.

Tennessee Vehicle Titling

Basic titling fees in Tennessee are as follows:

  • Title application: $11
  • Title transfer fee: $1
  • License plate fee fee: $21.50

If you purchase your car from a licensed dealer in Tennessee, they are authorized to process your car title transfer. You can also expect to pay local tax of between 1.50% to 2.75% and a 7% state sales or use tax when you title and register your car. You may be charged additional fees, depending on the county in which you reside.

Driver’s Licenses in Tennessee

A Tennessee driver’s license must be obtained within 30 days of establishing residency. The Tennessee DVS doesn’t require driver testing for new-to-state drivers. However, you will need to relinquish your out of state license upon receipt of your Tennessee license. You will also be required to pass a vision screening and have your photo taken.

To apply, you will visit your nearest DVS location with:

  • Proof of your legal status in the U.S. (birth certificate, passport, etc.)
  • Proof of a name change, if applicable
  • Proof of your Tennessee Address
  • Proof of a Social Security number
  • The $28 fee

Tennessee Auto Insurance Requirements

In accordance with Tennessee car insurance law, you must have liability insurance to cover the following minimums:

  • $25,000 for each bodily injury or death per accident
  • $50,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident
  • $15,000 for property damage

Additional car insurance is optional, but recommended.