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How to Register a Vehicle in Tennessee

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:
  3. A properly assigned vehicle title.
  4. 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.
  5. An odometer disclosure statement.
  6. Proof of your identity.
  7. Proof of your residential address.
  8. A report of emissions testing, if you live in one of these counties: Davidson, Hamilton, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson or Wilson or Memphis.
  9. 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.


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.


Reviews of How to Register a Vehicle in Tennessee

I have a current California motorcycle license and plan to move to TN in the next two years. Will I need to do the motorcycle riding test as well as the written, or just the written test?

I just moved to TN a couple weeks ago, what do I need to transfer my license & registration from another state? What are the costs?

Im a solidier in New York but my hometown is in the gibson county tn area, how can I register my car in TN?

I never received a renewal form, and my tags have now expired. What do I give to the emissions testing center so I can get my vehicle tested?

car tags expired last march.when I renew,is there an extra fee?didn't have money to renew when they were due.

My vehicle had to go into the shop for repairs to pass emissions, and will not be out before my registration expiration. What do I need to do?

Can I register a car with just a Bill of Sale?

Can I register a car with just a bill of sale?