How to Apply for a Drivers License in Tennessee
New drivers licenses cannot be obtained online or by mail. Instead, you must apply for a new license in person at a local DMV. While there, you must pass a vision screening, a written exam and a skills test. To make sure that you are prepared, download our informative online drivers license guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to complete this application easily and quickly. In it, you will get in-depth details on how to complete other important licensing transactions, such as updating personal information on your license, renewing your license and replacing a lost one.
2. In Person at the DMV
To obtain a new drivers license at the DMV, you must submit identification documents and pass mandatory tests. A birth certificate or passport can verify your name and age, and a utility bill can prove your state residency. Generally, you must pass a written knowledge exam and a road skills test. You must also fill out a drivers license application form and pay the applicable fees. However, you may not know which forms to complete or if you are already eligible to take your exams. Arriving at the DMV unprepared may result in long wait times and potential mistakes, which could mean having to redo the process.
For residents of Tennessee, a driver’s license is required by all adults and minors over 16 years of age who would like to operate a motor vehicle in the state. The TN Department of Safety and Homeland Security oversees DMV license procedures through the Driver Services Division, which operates a web portal and several office location across the state. Both new drivers and drivers transferring to Tennessee from another state are required to request a TN license was resident in the state.
Teen residents of Tennessee who would like a DMV driver’s license must follow a graduated permit system intended to help them learn how to safely operate a motor vehicle over time. Minors cannot directly apply for a full operator’s license without having first completed these previous permit levels and having consent from their parent or guardian. Read on to learn how to get your license in Tennessee now.
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 Drivers License in Tennessee as an Adult (18 or Older)
Adults in Tennessee who are applying for a new drivers license for the first time must meet a number of eligibility criteria before they are able to receive a license. In Tennessee, ordering a drivers license online is not possible for first-time applicants of any age. To meet the necessary application requirements, adult drivers must prepare a number of supporting documents concerning their identity, age and residency. To receive the license, they will also have to pass a number of state-administered exams.
Tennessee Drivers License Eligibility Requirements for Adults
How to get a drivers license for adults that have never had a license before or whose license has expired long ago begins with gathering the necessary supporting documentation. In short, these driver’s license requirements focus on establishing the applicant’s identity, age and residency in the state of Tennessee. All documents must be shown in their original form, photocopies are not accepted. Adults applying for a license should prepare the following documents:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent resident status or proof of authorized stay in the U.S. Accepted documents include but are not limited to:
- Valid and unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. passport card
- Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a U.S. state of the United States, with the stamp or raised seal of the issuing authority. A hospital-issued certificate is not acceptable.
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the U.S. Department of State
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Primary Proof of Identity. Accepted documents include but are not limited to:
- S. government-issued photo ID (including passport) or drivers license, license from other countries
- Original or certified copy of a birth certificate
- Military ID
- Marriage License or Certificate
- Secondary Proof of Identity. Accepted documents include but are not limited to:
- Computerized Check Stubs
- Union Membership Cards
- Employer-issued IDs
- Documents issued by or Printouts from Financial Institutions
- Social Security Documents
- Two Proofs of Residency in the State of Tennessee, including your full name and address. DMV license applicants can include two documents from Group A, or one document from Group A and one document from Group B. Examples of these documents are as follows:
- Group A, which includes utility bills, pay stubs and bank statements.
- Group B, which includes Form I-94, an Employment Authorization card or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
- Proof of your Social Security Number (SSN).
Steps to Obtain a New Drivers License in Tennessee as an Adult
Drivers who would like to apply for a drivers license in Tennessee must also pass a vision test, written driving knowledge exam and a road skills test. In many locations, drivers can make an appointment for the road skills test before visiting a licensing center.
- Prepare the necessary supporting documents, including a primary and secondary proof of identification ID, two proofs of residency, proof of your SSN and lawful U.S. presence.
- Print out or pick up a TN application for driver’s license. Complete and sign it.
- Prepare the necessary application fee.
- Head to the licensing location nearest where you live with all necessary paperwork.
- Take the vision test.
- Take the written driving knowledge exam.
- If passed, take the road skills test or schedule it for a later date.
- If passed, get your TN license.
Getting a Tennessee Drivers License as a New Resident
Adults who have recently taken up residency in the state of Tennessee must submit a driving license application to change their current license issued by another state or country to a TN license. Drivers license services must be initiated by new residents to the state of Tennessee within 30 days of moving to the state. The process for submitting the application is the same for new residents as it is for resident adults getting their first license, except that currently licensed transfer drivers do not need to take the state’s knowledge or skills-based driving exams.
Drivers license information for new residents should also note that these drivers must submit their application for a TN license in-person. Drivers license eligibility requirements for transfer drivers are more or less the same as those for adult drivers getting their first license in the state. Transfer drivers should be prepared to surrender their current license if issued by another U.S. state. A portion of the transfer application can be submitted online when desired, the applicant must bring the supporting material in-person to a TN licensing office to successfully submit the complete application. In addition, the applicant will be required to complete a vision exam at this time. It is recommended to make an appointment with your local licensing office in Tennessee on order to expedite the process.
How to Apply for a Drivers License in Tennessee as a Teen (Younger Than 18)
Submitting an application for a DMV license is a little more extensive for teen drivers living in Tennessee. How much does a drivers license cost for teen drivers in Tennessee? Because the licensing procedure for teens involves the issuance of three different types of permits over time, the total cost for teens is higher than for adult drivers who directly apply for a fully operational license. Many of the same eligibility criteria that apply to new adult drivers apply to young drivers as well. According to the Tennessee Graduated Driver License law, teens under 18 years of age can request permits to drive in the following order:
- Learner Permit
- Intermediate Restricted License
- Intermediate Unrestricted License
Tennessee Drivers License Eligibility Requirements for Teens
Teen drivers applying for a new driver’s license must meet the same basic supporting documentation needs as adults applying for a first-time license in Tennessee. Young drivers must be at least 16 year of age to apply for a Learner Permit. The following documents must be included with every license application from a teen driver:
- Proof of lawful presence in the U.S.
- Primary Proof of Identity.
- Secondary Proof of Identity.
- Two Proofs of Residency in Tennessee.
- Proof of SSN.
- Proof of school attendance and progress
- Teenage Affidavit of Financial Responsibility
- Certification of 50 Hours Behind the Wheel Driving Experience (SF-1256) (for an Intermediate Driver’s License)
Unlike in many states, there is no drivers license information and education programs that are obligatory for teen drivers before they can apply for any type of permit or license. Minors in Tennessee who are interested in accessing driving license services can sign up for any of a number of traffic safety and driving education programs that can be found across the state, but these are not required to receive a license. Many young drivers choose to enroll in a driving program in order to meet the 50 hour driving practice requirement to receive a provisional license.
Steps to Obtain a New Drivers License in Tennessee as a Teen
Teens who would like to start the process of getting a DMV drivers license must begin by applying for a driving permit. In addition to meeting the driver’s license requirements for proving the applicant’s identity, age and residency status, young drivers must take further steps to demonstrate that they are ready for the responsibility of safely operating a motor vehicle. To meet these ends, teen drivers must:
- Be at least 15 years of age.
- Pass the vision screening.
- Pass the written driving knowledge exam.
- Bring a parent with you to the appointment, with a signed affidavit of support.
- Show proof of school attendance.
To receive an Intermediate Restricted Drivers License, teens must meet additional requirements. Tennessee teen drivers interested in graduating to the next level must:
- Be at least 16 years of age.
- Have had a valid Learner Permit for at least 180 days.
- Have practiced behind the wheel for at least 50 hours (including 10 hours of night driving).
- Pass a road skills test.
Tennessee Drivers License Costs
The exact drivers license cost for an applicant will depend on what class of license the applicant is requesting. For example, a D-class licenses, the most common type of TN licenses, is $28. Fees for other common types of licenses include:
- D-Operator: $28.00
- D w/for Hire Endorsement: $30.50
- PD-Learner Permit (18 and older): $5.50
- PD-Learner Permit (younger than 18): $10.50
- H-Hardship: $9.00
- M-Motorcycle: $29.00
- PM-Learner Permit (younger than 18): $6.50
- DM-Operator & Motorcycle: $55.00
- ID Only (younger than 18): $5.00
- ID Only (18 and older): $12.00
- 1st Duplicate: $8.00
- 2nd or Subsequent Duplicate: $12.00