Tennessee law requires that motor vehicle owners must register their vehicle with the Tennessee Department of Safety before taking it on the road. Both new and second-hand vehicles must be registered, regardless of whether they are purchased from a dealer or an individual. In addition, new Tennessee residents who have registered their vehicle in another state must register their vehicle in Tennessee. The initial vehicle registration must be done in person, but registration renewals can be done in person or by mail.
If you move to Tennessee, you must register your vehicle within thirty days of moving to the state.
If you are registering a motor vehicle in Tennessee for the first time, you must complete the following steps:
- All vehicles in Tennessee must be insured. When you register your vehicle you must provide proof of insurance. The easiest way to do this is to obtain auto liability insurance.
- Collect the necessary paperwork. If you bought your vehicle from a dealer, then the dealer will have sent the necessary paperwork to the Tennessee Department of safety. In all other circumstances you will need to collect the following additional papers:
- A properly assigned vehicle title.
- Your current registration - only required if you are transferring your plates to a new vehicle or you are registering a vehicle from out of state.
- An odometer disclosure statement.
- Proof of your identity.
- Proof of your residential address.
- A report of emissions testing, if you live in one of these counties: Davidson, Hamilton, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson or Wilson or Memphis.
- Visit any County Clerk's Office with your completed forms.
Registration fees in Tennessee are based on a number of factors, such as weight of the vehicle, where you live and whether you require specialized license plates. Your County Clerk's office can tell you what the fee will be for your case.
RENEWING YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION
Owners of motor vehicles in Tennessee are required to renew their vehicle registration annually, and can do so in person or by mail. See our Registration Renewal section for complete details.
- The process for registering a motorcycle is generally the same as a car registration. However, there are no emission control requirements for motorcycles.
- There are different procedures for boat registration and custom car registration.
- Auto Insurance is needed to legally operate all vehicles in Tennessee.
- See also Renewing Your Vehicle Registration.
- See also Title Transfers and Car Insurance.