1. Get Started With License Plate Assistance Online

In most states, you cannot apply for or replace a license plate online. Instead, most states require you to request a new or duplicate license plate in person at a DMV office. However, certain states or counties may allow you to complete these transactions online. In any case, you must apply for a new license plate within a few days of your vehicle’s date of purchase. To do so, you must provide a certificate of title, odometer disclosure, smog certification (if applicable) and bill of sale (if needed). Then, you must pay any applicable DMV service fees. To prepare for this procedure and save time, download our informative online guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know about standard and custom license plates. In it, you will also learn about requesting, renewing and replacing a car registration.

2. By Mail

In most states, you cannot apply for a license plate by mail. However, many states allow you to replace or surrender a license plate by sending the required materials through the mail. When replacing a plate, you will be required to send a completed application form containing personal details and vehicle specifications to the appropriate DMV mailing address. If you wish to surrender an existing license plate after selling your vehicle, you may do so by mailing the plate to the correct DMV branch in your state. Due to mailing and processing times, be mindful that the mail-in method may subject you to certain delays.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

You will most likely need to visit a DMV office in person to apply for a license plate in your state. During your visit, you will be asked to provide proof of identity, documents that verify your car ownership and a completed application form. In addition, you will be required to pay the applicable DMV fees, which vary depending on whether you apply for a standard or personalized license plate. When visiting a DMV, you may also replace or transfer an existing license plate, as long as those procedures are offered in your state. To avoid mistakes or taking additional trips to the DMV, make sure that you are fully prepared for license plate transactions prior to filing your application.


A Tennessee DMV license plate shows proof that a vehicle has been correctly registered with the state’s Department of Revenue, which handles the issuance of new registration plates. Car registration is an important civic duty. When a vehicle has valid car registration plates in Tennessee, it means the car or truck has passed all state-mandated tests to safely operate on Tennessee’s roadways.

Clearly visible new registration plates can assist law enforcement officers in identifying both the vehicle and its owner within minutes. Each Tennessee driver is responsible for renewing plate stickers annually and replacing tags that are lost or somehow damaged. Keep reading the information organized in the sections below to learn more about license plate services in Tennessee.

Types of License Plates in Tennessee

If you want to get a license plate in Tennessee, you have a wide variety of plates to choose from—over 100, to be exact. While some DMV license plates exist for vanity reasons, others serve to meet more concrete needs. Options include:

  • Standard DMV license plates: These appear on the majority of Tennessee vehicles and are the most economical to own. TN standard plates currently feature a green mountain background and the state’s tourism website address. It can be personalized with three to seven characters for an additional fee.
  • Specialized interest plates: As the name implies, these DMV car tags support a driver’s clubs, organizations, schools or favorite sports teams. Others represent career affiliations, such as hospitals or military/memorial tags. Others help raise awareness of special interest groups or charities.
  • Disabled plates: This type of license plate is issued to assist motorists with mobility-related disabilities and is often issued along with a disability placard.
  • Personalized plates: These types of car tags are individually designed to spell out an almost limitless number of words or phrases using at least three but not more than seven characters, which must be approved by the state.

Additionally, you may at some point need temporary plates if you are experiencing title problems. These allow you to drive legally while waiting to resolve any issues you may be facing with regards to your vehicle ownership and titling in Tennessee.

How to Apply for a License Plate in Tennessee

If you need to know how to get a license plate in Tennessee, you should be aware that you must apply for them in person at your local county clerk’s office. Make an appointment and bring your manufacturer’s statement of origin, the new vehicle invoice, and a copy of your current registration if you are transferring an old tag to your new vehicle.

If you need to know how to get license plate tags on a used vehicle, it is basically the same process. Bring a valid certificate of title, properly assigned, and an odometer disclosure statement to the county clerk. Again, if transferring an old tag to your new vehicle, bring the current registration card with you.

How to Renew License Plate Tags in Tennessee

Drivers wondering how to renew license plate tags in TN will note that the state strongly encourages vehicle owners to renew their license plates online. The TN DOR website includes a list of all Tennessee county names, each of which links directly to the online tag renewal page for that location.

If you cannot renew your plates online, you should visit your local county clerk and renew in person. For online and in-person renewal, you will need information from your car tag renewal notice and a form of payment.

Note: The process of renewing your registration is usually completed at the same time that you renew your license plates in Tennessee.

How to Replace License Plates in Tennessee

If you are wondering how to replace license plate tags after discovering them missing due to loss or theft, you must contact your local law enforcement agency and report the loss. You also must replace license plate tags that are damaged or mutilated beyond repair.

Replacing tags and documents involves submitting the Application for Duplicate/Replacement License Plate or Decal form to your local county clerk’s office and paying the replacement fee.

How to Transfer License Plates in Tennessee

Tennessee DMV license plates stay with the original owner, not the vehicle. Therefore, an older car tag can be transferred to a new vehicle when the previous vehicle is sold. To transfer registration plates, submit your request to your county clerk’s office and pay the minimal fee.

Tennessee License Plate Fees

The annual fee for standard license plates in Tennessee is $26.50. If your plate was personalized, that annual cost amounts to $56.50. Furthermore, temporary tags are available for a $10 fee.

License Plate Lookups in Tennessee

Personal information attached to car registration plates in TN is available only with written consent from the person about whom the car tag pertains. Interested parties may complete a Vehicle Information Request form and submit it to their county clerk for more information about a license plate, vehicle or driver.

Last updated on Wednesday, January 16 2019.

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