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How to Apply for a New Driver's License in Tennessee

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Tennessee drivers licenses are issued to state residents who want to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads and highways. Driving applicants can get drivers licenses once they fulfill the requirements set by the Tennessee Department of Safety (TN DOS), such as: provide the necessary documentation, pass a series of tests and pay any applicable fees.

Did you know? More than half of drivers license applicants fail the written drivers test on their first try. Get prepared for the exam day by taking our online practice driving tests.

How to Apply for a Tennessee Driver's License:

  • Be at least 15 years of age.
  • Provide the required documentation.
  • Pass a vision screening, knowledge exam and driving test.
  • Pay the TN drivers license fee.

Find out more information about the Tennessee drivers license application process by reviewing the sections below.

Types of Drivers Licenses in Tennessee

Tennessee drivers licenses are issued based upon the classification of the vehicle a driver can use. Different types of drivers licenses are the following:

  • Class A, B or C Commercial Drivers License (CDL) - Issued to drivers who operate commercial vehicles.
  • Class D drivers license - Issued to drivers who operate regular vehicles with a weight of 26,000 pounds or less.
  • Class M motorcycle license - Issued to drivers who operate motorcycles.

First-Time Driver (Under 18) in Tennessee

First-time drivers in Tennessee are issued learners permits if they are at least 15 years of age. The Tennessee Department of Safety has set requirements for beginner drivers in order to apply for a learners permit. These requirements include providing the necessary documentation, passing a series of exams and to paying the applicable fees.

For more information, visit our Learner's Permit page.

Tennessee New Drivers (Over 18)

New drivers license applicants in Tennessee must pass a knowledge test and a driving test, as part of the requirements set by the TN DOS.

TN Driver's Study Guide and Driver's Practice Test

Passing a knowledge test is a mandatory requirement for Tennessee drivers license applicants. In order to establish driving privileges, you must pass the driving test and learn how to legally operate a motor vehicle. Get prepared for the knowledge test by utilizing our practice driving tests. Our tests contain questions on road rules and traffic signs, similar to those on the actual TN knowledge test.

How to Apply for Drivers Licenses in TN

Applying for drivers license is a process that can be completed at any Tennessee DOS office. Drivers will be required to provide the following documentation:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship.
  • Primary proof of identity.
  • Secondary proof of identity.
  • Proof of name change, if necessary.
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency.
  • Proof of Social Security Number.

TN Drivers License Eligibility Requirements

To get a drivers license in Tennessee, applicants must meet requirements that are set by the Department of Safety. Residents from 15 to 18 years of age must complete a Graduated Driver Licensing program, while residents above 18 years of age can apply for full driving privileges. The drivers license application process includes providing certain documentation to the TN DOS and passing a vision screening, knowledge exam and driving test.

TN Written/Driving Test

The written knowledge test is one of the exams you need to pass in order to prove that you know how to safely operate a motor vehicle and to get a drivers license in Tennessee. The test contains multiple choice questions about:

  • Traffic signs and signals.
  • Safe driving principles.
  • Road rules.
  • Drugs and alcohol.

Get thoroughly prepared for the knowledge test by taking our driving practice tests. The practice tests contain questions similar to those on the actual knowledge test, based on the content in the TN Comprehensive Driver License Manual.

TN Driving Test

The Tennessee driving test is created to examine the driving applicant's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle on public roads and highways within the state. The driving (road) test in checks your ability to demonstrate the following maneuvers:

  • Starting and controlling the vehicle.
  • Handling intersections and making left and right turns.
  • Obeying traffic signs and signals.
  • Driving in traffic and changing the speed.
  • Stopping and backing the vehicle.
  • Maintaining safe distance from other vehicles.
  • Communicating and sharing the road with other traffic participants.

The vehicle that you plan to use for the road test must be familiar to you. You must have it registered and equipped with the safety law requirements prior to the exam day.

NOTE: Tennessee Drivers license applicants are required to schedule a DMV appointment for the road test.

New Tennessee Resident

New residents who want to get drivers licenses in Tennessee can do so at any Driver Services Center Location. Driving applicants can either transfer their out-of-state drivers licenses within 30 days of establishing residency, or apply for new ones. When transferring driver's licenses to Tennessee, drivers will have to retake only the eye screening exam instead of all tests.

Additionally, drivers who are new to Tennessee must register and inspect their vehicles. A vehicle emissions inspection may be required when you plan to register a used vehicle at the TN DOS office.

Replace Drivers License in Tennessee

Tennessee drivers with stolen, mutilated or lost drivers licenses need to apply for replacements at the nearest TN DOS office. For more detailed information on how to replace drivers licenses, click here.

Locate a DMV in Tennessee

Locate the nearest Tennessee Department of Safety office in your area. Search our TN DOS locations page and find out the contact details of each branch, such as: phone numbers, office hours and addresses.

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