Updated on August 18, 2021
Tennessee is one of the 31 states to require an emissions test before a vehicle registration can be renewed. Vehicle emissions testing though will end for five counties in Tennessee on January 14, 2022, in Hamilton, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties. Motorcycles don’t need to clear an emissions inspection, nor do electric vehicles need to pass, of course. If you’re looking to renew your Tennessee vehicle registration, keep in mind you you’ll need to have your car tested within 90 days of your renewal!
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If you’re new to the Volunteer State, you’ll be pleased to learn Tennessee is home to only 5.4 million licensed drivers! Among those 5.4 million drivers, 2.1 million vehicles are registered. If you’re looking to join the herd of Tennessee drivers, keep reading to learn how!
Tennessee Vehicle Registration Renewal Guide
How to Renew a Car Registration in Tennessee
In Tennessee, you are required to have a valid driver’s license, valid vehicle registration, and valid tags to legally drive. If you don’t have one of these things, it’s vital that you get it replaced as soon as possible so you can drive legally.
If you recently lost your vehicle registration, you will have to get a replacement vehicle registration from your local Tennessee county clerk. You will need to fill out an application and provide some standard information in addition to paying a replacement registration fee.
Below you will find all you need to know about how to replace your vehicle registration in Tennessee.
When Do I Need To Renew My Car Registration In Tennessee?
The state of Tennessee’s Department of Revenue will mail out a renewal notice for your vehicle registration about six weeks before it is due to expire.
Emissions Testing and Tennessee Registration Renewal
There are some counties in the state that will require an emissions test as well as a vehicle inspection. If you live in a county that requires these tests you will need to make sure that they are completed before you will be allowed to renew your registration.
Counties that require a vehicle emission test to complete the registration renewal process in Tennessee include:
For those who live in a county that requires an emissions and safety inspection, you will need to get your vehicle tested within 90 days before you renew your registration.
To get the emissions test you will need to visit an emissions inspection testing station and provide either your title or vehicle registration and pay the testing fee of $9.
Tennessee Online Registration Renewal
Some counties in Tennessee offer online registration renewals. To renew online you will need to visit the DOR website and choose your county from the drop down menu. You will be asked to enter your license plate number and you will then need to pay your registration fees.
Renewing Your Vehicle Registration In Person In Tennessee
To renew your registration in person you will need to bring in your renewal notice and the payment for your renewal fee.
Replacement Registration vs. Registration Renewal
What’s the difference between a replacement registration and vehicle registration renewal in Tennessee?
Depending on your circumstances, you may need to renew your registration instead of replacing it. You will receive a renewal notice when your car registration is nearing its expiration date, at which point you can renew your registration.
You will need a replacement vehicle registration if you lost your original registration card. In this case, you will be asked to provide your license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN). You will also be required to pay a duplicate registration fee of $3.
Replacing Stolen License Plates
When somebody steals one or both of your license plates, your first step should be to report the stolen plate(s) to the police. You will have to fill out a police report which you can use later as proof that your license plates were stolen.
You will have to give the Tennessee county clerk the name of both the police department and offer with which you filed the report.
Replacing your stolen license plates is similar to replacing your registration. You will have to provide your current license plate number, decal number, plate class and issue year, VIN, and the make and year of your vehicle.
How to Replace a Lost License Plate Sticker
You are required to have a valid license plate sticker called a decal in Tennessee. If you lose your decals or they are damaged, you can get a replacement by filling out the same form as you use to replace your license plate.
The process will be the same, but you will have to indicate that you need a replacement car tag and not a replacement license plate.
Where Can I Replace My Registration In Tennessee?
All Tennessee driver and vehicle licensing is handled by mail or in person by the county clerk. All applications and fees can be sent via mail or taken to your local county clerk office.
What to Do with Old License Plates
What do I do with my old TN license plates?
As time wears on, plates may wear out and need to be replaced. If you want to replace your old plates with newer ones, you can do so by filling the same application and indicating that your plates are damaged and not lost.
You are only required to surrender your old plates if you no longer qualify for a specialty plate or you’re switching from a vanity plate to a regular plate. If you’re not doing either of these things, you can dispose of your old license plates by bending them so they can’t be used and taking them to an aluminum recycling center.
Replacing Your Plates with Specialty Plates
Can I customize my plates in Tennessee?
Since Tennessee has a variety of specialty plates available, you can upgrade to them when you replace your old plates. Simply indicate that you want a specialty plate on your application for a replacement plate.
Personalized and Custom Tennessee License Plates
You can also personalize your Tennessee license plates. You will have to pay an additional fee of $61.50 for regular plates or a varying fee for personalized specialty plates. For more information on which Tennessee specialty plates are customizable, check out this page or contact your local county clerk’s office.