Tennessee License Plate Lookup

Tennessee License Plate Lookup

Tennessee is one of 20 states requiring no front license plates. You need only a rear license plate in TN. Tennessee required only rear license plates earlier than Michigan. TN has required only rear license plates since 1977 while Michigan has since 1981.

The first slogan for TN license plates was “Volunteer State”.  TN introduced the slogan 62 years after issuing plates. Now, the slogan is “The Volunteer State in God We Trust”. But the slogan is not mandatory.

Tennessee License Plates Facts

There are important facts about TN license plates. Knowing them will make your license plate search easier.

TN introduces new license plates once in 10 years. The last update was in 2011.

Currently, TN license plates can consist of a maximum of 7 characters. Passenger license plates consist of 6 characters. Moreover, they have a sequence. First, it should start with a letter. After, there are 2 numbers and a hyphen. The hyphen resembles the state’s form. Then, there are again 2 numbers. The letter is the last character.

Now, Smith Seckman Reid made TN license plates.

Recently, the Tennessee Department of Revenue (DOR) gives license plates. Particularly, Vehicle Services Division is responsible for the process.

Everything You Need to Know About Tennessee License Plate Lookup

Tennessee license plate lookup may sometimes be confusing. You will be directed from one website to another. Still, you will not fully understand how the law works.

Thus, we collected all the useful details you should know to start a TN license plate lookup.

It is important to distinguish the type of your vehicle. Though TN requires a license plate, there are some cases you will not need them.

Vehicles needing no registration:

  1. You don’t need a license plate for off-road vehicles.
  2. TN doesn’t require registration also for all-terrain vehicles. But titling them is a must.
  3. Snowmobiles also need no registration.
  4. There is also a bike type with no license plate. Dirt bikes need no registration.
  5. Lastly, you need no license plate for dune buggies.

There are also vehicles that you can register voluntarily. For example, mopeds and scooters.

It is a must to register other types of vehicles. Registration also includes vehicle title and license plate. Normally, you will need about $240 for getting them all.

Besides, there are different types of vehicle registration. It also depends on vehicle type. Accordingly, registration periods defer. Thus, the license plate renewal date also depends on it.

Permanent registration

Permanent registration doesn’t expire. Of course, as long as you own the vehicle. You need no license plate renewal.

But it is not available for all kinds of vehicles. For example, antique autos can get permanent registration.

The fee for permanent registration may range from $300 to $1000.

Staggered Registration

Staggered registration expires after a year. You can get it whenever you want. But it will expire the next year at the same month. It is important to renew registration within 90 days after expiration. Otherwise, there will be additional charges. You will pay the full registration fee instead of the renewal fee.

Staggered registration is also not for all vehicles. For instance, it is available for personal vehicles.

Non-Staggered Registration

Non-staggered registration also expires after a year. Getting it whenever you want is also possible. But there is a certain expiration month. You must renew your license that month. The month may depend on the procedure. There may also be some special law.

The registration applies to dealer plates. National guard plates can also have this registration.

Temporary Registration

You can also get temporary registration. This is a must if you don’t have a license plate.

You may need a temporary registration in some cases. For example, you bought the care from TN and go to your home state. You may also be waiting for your license plate to arrive.

There are 3 temporary registrations.

  1. Temporary operation permit. This is also known as a red tag. The validation period is 30 days. You will pay $10 for a temporary tag.
    You should submit the application. It should include ownership prove. You should also include your driver’s license.
    County Clerks’ local offices accept the application.
  1. Dealer drive-out tag. This is also known as a green tag. The tag is valid for 30 days. You will pay $5,50 for each tag.
    Only licensed dealers can give green tags. They can issue it to vehicle owners waiting for a license plate.
  1. Trailer temporary tag. The other name is a yellow tag. The tag is for transferring trailers. But it can be within 5 days. A-5-day tag will cost you $9.
    Only trailer producers can issue a yellow tag.

Getting License Plates in Tennessee

You can get license plates in TN via DOR.

First of all, you should register your vehicle. You must do it in person. Clerk’s offices register the card.

After, you can apply to get a license plate.

  1. ID card.
  2. Proof of TN residency.
  3. Vehicle’s title.
  4. Odometer disclosure.

Besides, there are 6 counties that have additional demand. They also require an emission check.  The counties are the following:

  1. Wilson County.
  2. Sumner County.
  3. Hamilton County.
  4. Davidson County.
  5. Williamson County.
  6. Rutherford County.

You can pass the test if you provide a vehicle title. Providing registration is also possible.

The test fee will be $9. Only cash payments are accepted.

Renewing License Plates in Tennessee

License plate renewal is annual in TN. The renewal month is based on the type of registration. You should again renew your license plate with DOR.

But the renewal process defers in TN counties. The differences apply to ways of renewal. Also, it applies to renewal fees.

On the whole, there are 5 ways of renewing TN license plates.

  1. In-person renewal. You should collect the necessary documents. For example, a note about renewal. You can provide the vehicle’s data too if you don’t have the note. You need also to pay the required fee.
  2. Renewal by mail. You need the same documents as for personal renewal. But in this case, you should mail it.
  3. Online renewal. Not all counties have this method. You should use the clerk website. There you can choose your county. After, you write your TN license plate number. Eventually, you pay the fee and wait for renewal.
  4. Renewing via Kiosk. The kiosk is a self-service. You should choose the vehicle type. After, you should scan your registration. Finally, pay the renewal fee. You can use a credit card. Using a debit card is also possible.
  5. Renewing via Auto Assistant. You can download the app.

Fees for Tennessee License Plate Renewal

Tennessee license plate renewal fees differ from county to county. Because each county may add additional fees. There can also be differences between taxes. You will also pay handling fees.

However, there are some general fees for license renewal. The fee is based on the vehicle type. It also depends on the license plate type.

For instance, a vehicle’s regular license plate renewal fee is $26,50. Meanwhile, regular motorcycle license plate renewal will cost $19.50.

The vehicle’s personalized license plate renewal will be $56.50. The fee is the same for motorcycles.

Replacing License Plates in Tennessee

Tennessee replaces the license plates. You can use this service if you lost or accidentally damaged your plate. It is also possible to replace the plate if someone stole yours. But in case of robbery, you should first report it to the police.

You should apply for replacing the license plate at your local clerk’s office.

There are also some documents you should provide.

  1. You should provide your vehicle’s registration certificate.
  2. You should also complete the Application for Replacement License Plate.
  3. There’s a need to provide also a note from the police. This is only if someone stole your plate. Otherwise, the committee can’t proceed with your application.
  4. You need to provide your signature too. It must be notarized.
  5. Eventually, you should pay the fee. The fees are different. Each county decides the fee.

Transferring License Plates in Tennessee

There are some cases when you can transfer your license plate in Tennessee. For example, if you want your license plate to be on your new vehicle. But you should transfer it from your old car which you sold.

It is important to note that you can’t transfer your license plate to another person.

The fee for license plate transfer is $1.

Surrendering License Plates in Tennessee

You should surrender your TN license plate to DOR.

You can surrender the license plate if you no longer need it. There may also be cases when you are no longer eligible for the plate type. It is also possible if you substitute a personalized plate with a standard plate.

Types of Tennessee License Plates

TN suggests different types of license plates. You have many TN license plate options to choose from.

  1. Specialty license plates. There are more than 100 specialty license plates.
  2. Personalized license plates. They are also known as custom license plates. You will pay an additional $35 fee.
  3. License plate for disabled drivers. You should meet certain requirements to get this license. For example, you can apply if you are in a wheelchair. People having problems with vision can also apply for this license plate.

Your vanity license plate application may be denied by the state for various reasons, check out TN banned license plates page for more details.

Manush K

Manush K

Manush considers writing as a form of art. Mixing facts with good grammar and the right punctuation is not enough for having unique content. She is sure, that you can't be a good writer if you are not able to leave the traces of your individuality in your work. She is a freelance content writer, translator, and voice talent in Upwork. She also works as a freelance writer on wizardwriters.com and has written many academic essays and literature reviews. Her educational background in social studies and linguistics give her the chance to find the right approach for each written material.