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Vehicle registrations need to be renewed regularly. Many states require vehicle owners to renew their registrations every year, although some states offer the option to purchase registrations that last for two years or longer. Most states allow you to quickly renew your car registration online, but you should be aware of the information you will need to provide, the necessary fees and the acceptable methods of payment to ensure a smooth transaction. Our online guide can help you prepare all the required documents and fees so that you can renew your vehicle registration as smoothly and quickly as possible. In it, you will also discover all the steps needed to replace a lost registration and to update your name or address with the DMV.

2. By Mail

Some vehicle owners may prefer to renew their auto registrations through the mail. Certain states will allow their residents to apply by mail, but vehicle owners may need to meet certain eligibility requirements to submit their request. Additionally, the ways in which you may pay your renewal fee are limited to check or money order, and you may experience processing delays due to the time it takes the postal service to deliver your application. Furthermore, you may risk losing your application or registration tags in the mail, adding to the wait time.

3. Via a DMV Office

Renewing your vehicle registration in person at a DMV office is an option if you cannot or prefer not to apply by mail or online. Typically, the DMV will issue your new registration credentials after receiving payment. However, certain states may require you to wait to receive your renewed registration documents in the mail. While visiting a DMV office in person may provide you with more personalized attention, it often involves long waits. Additionally, the office hours of many DMV locations can interfere with your work schedule.


A Tennessee car registration renewal must be submitted for all vehicles operating on state roads. Registration fees vary and are based on the type of vehicle being renewed. In most cases, an emissions test is required for all renewals. Exemptions may apply.

Residents may submit a DMV registration renewal online in most Tennessee counties. However, applications may also be submitted by mail or in person if an applicant cannot access the online system. In certain counties, only one registration decal will be issued to eligible customers. The state’s car registration renewal cost varies between counties and may include an additional wheel tax.

Requirements for Car Registration Renewal in Tennessee

A TN DMV car registration renewal cannot be processed until an emissions test has been completed. Residents do not need to have their cars tested within the same county as it is registered. If your vehicle fails the emissions test and needs repairs, you may be eligible for an emissions waiver. The waiver allows applicants to submit a car registration renewal without passing the test. To qualify for a waiver, you must prove that you cannot afford the repairs.

What do you need to renew your car registration in Tennessee?

Car registration renewal documents must be submitted in full. Failure to do so may delay the process and result in penalties. Depending on the method used, the following items may be required to complete a renewal application:

  • Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice – While it is recommended to bring your renewal notice to an emissions testing center or submit it as part of your renewal application, it is not mandatory.
  • Car Registration Renewal Emissions Certificate – Once your test is complete, the certificate number is uploaded to the state’s online system. While it is recommended to bring the emissions certificate, is not required for in-person renewals. However, the certificate must be submitted with mailed-in applications.
  • Emission Exemption Forms – These forms are only required for eligible applicants exempt from submitting an emissions certificate.
  • Current Vehicle Registration – A copy of your current registration may be required for in-person and mail-in renewals. Information from your current registration may be required for online renewals.
  • Identification – A Tennessee drivers license or ID card must be presented when renewing in person.
  • Car Registration Renewal Payment – Acceptable forms of payment differ for each renewal method.

Tennessee Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice

Tennessee mails vehicle registration renewal notices six weeks before the registration’s expiration date. While the renewal notice alerts residents of an upcoming expiration, it is not required for the renewal application. Therefore, it is the resident’s responsibility to submit his or her car for an emissions test and complete the renewal application process before the expiration date. In some cases, an emailed reminder is sent to residents who renew car registrations online.

Tennessee Car Registration Renewal Notice Lost or Not Received

While a vehicle registration renewal notice is not required to complete an application, it may be required for submissions made after the expiration date. Depending on the county, you may be required to re-print a lost registration renewal notice if you are submitting an application 90 days or more after the expiration date. Forms may be reprinted online or requested from your local DMV.

Residents may check their DMV registration renewal status online by entering their plate number on the county clerk’s website.

Tennessee Car Registration Renewal Options

Depending on the county, you may be able to complete a DMV registration renewal online, in person, by mail or at a self-service kiosk. Kiosks are not available in all counties. Similarly, online renewals are only available to residents living in select counties.

How to Renew Car Registration Online

A DMV registration renewal online must be completed within 90 days of the registration expiration date. Residents may search for their vehicle using the state’s online portal and follow the system’s prompts to complete the transaction.

Typically, you will need to provide information about your vehicle, such as the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), title number and license plate number. Depending on the county, you may be charged an additional online transaction fee.

Once you have completed your vehicle registration renewal online, your new tags will be mailed to you within two to three business days. Applicants can print their renewal receipts as proof of the transaction.

How to Renew Your Car Registration by Mail

All motor vehicle registration renewal applications submitted by mail must be sent to your local county office. An additional mailing fee may be charged. Residents must include the renewal notice, the emissions certificate and payment with their applications.

If you do not have a car registration renewal notice, you must send a copy of your current registration. Exceptions may apply. Checks must be made payable to your local county office. Do not send cash in the mail. Applications sent through the mail must be submitted well before the registration expiration date.

How to Renew Your Car Registration in Person

Applicants may renew car registration documents in person by visiting a local county clerk’s office. You must bring the following items to complete the process:

  • State ID Card – If you are applying for a third party, you may be required to complete a power of attorney form.
  • Car Registration Renewal Notice – If you do not have a renewal notice, you may have to submit a copy of your current registration. Either way, details of your current registration must be included in your application.
  • Emissions Certificate or Waiver – If a waiver is required, you must submit the signed waiver when applying for a renewal.
  • Payment – DMV registration renewal fees may vary and must be paid in full.

Details on where to renew a car registration may differ between counties. Depending on the county, you may be able to renew your registration at a self-service kiosk instead of with a country clerk representative.

Military & Out of State Vehicle Registration Renewal in Tennessee

Military members may submit a car registration renewal by mail if they are stationed outside of the state. Depending on the county, service members may need to provide evidence of a current emissions test and pay additional county taxes. Follow the below steps to renew your car registration while on active duty:

  1. Submit a copy of your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).
  2. Submit a copy of the stationing orders.
  3. Submit a copy of your vehicle registration.
  4. Submit the car registration renewal
  5. Send the above items to the county clerk’s office where the vehicle is registered.

Check with your local county to find out if you need to submit your vehicle for emissions testing. Depending on the county, active duty military may be exempt from paying wheel tax.

If you are not a member of the military and need to renew car registration documents while out of the state, you may be exempt from completing an emissions test. If a vehicle is based out-of-state for more than 90 days, it may be eligible for a waiver.

Tennessee Vehicle Registration Renewal Fees

New DMV registration fees were introduced in 2017. There are separate fees for both gas, electrical, personal and commercial vehicles. Wheel tax, metro fees and mailing fees may be required in certain counties.

DMV registration renewal fees vary between counties and must be paid in full at the time of applying. Contact your individual county for the exact fees.

Last updated on Friday, December 14 2018.

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