If you’ve recently moved to Tennessee, you’re getting your first license, or you just purchased a new car, then you likely have a lot of questions about what rules and regulations you must abide by. At first glance, licensing and other driving-related regulations in Tennessee can be a bit confusing. That’s because the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) doesn’t actually handle many of the consumer-related driving issues you are likely to have; rather, the Tennessee MVC is focused more on licensing and registration for car dealerships. Instead, most of your car-related issues will be addressed by the Driver Services Division of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. With that cleared up, let’s take a look at some common driver-related queries you may have.
You have three options for requesting your Tennessee driving history (officially a moving violation report or MVR). The most convenient is to order one online, which you can do by visiting this page of the Tennessee State Government. Ordering your driving record online will cost you $7 and you will need your name, birth date, and license number when filling out the form. Alternatively, you can visit a Driver Service Center in person or request that a record by delivered to you by mail. An in-person or mail request for a driving record costs $5. Also, if you are simply curious about your driving record and do not need an official copy then you can utilize a third-party database, such as SearchQuarry.com.
You will need to pass a Tennessee driving test to get a Tennessee MVC license if your out-of-state license has been expired for more than six months, you have a license from a foreign country, or this is your first license. The test typically includes a vision screening, knowledge exam, and road skills test. If you are applying for a Class D (regular driver’s license) or a motorcycle license, then you can do so online using the Tennessee MVC Driver Services’ e-Services.
When moving to Tennessee you will need to get a Tennessee driver’s license within 30 days of your arrival if you want to continue driving legally in the state. You can begin the application process for a Tennessee license online using the e-Services, but ultimately you will need to visit a Driver Service Center in person to complete the application. Starting the application online, however, could save you some time waiting in line. All valid out-of-state U.S. licenses can be exchanged for a Tennessee one, whereas if you have a foreign license or an expired license then you will need to apply for a new license (and complete mandatory tests). When you visit the Driver Service Center bring with you your current license, two proofs of Tennessee residency, proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency, Social Security Number, and, if applicable, proof of name change.
While the Tennessee MVC does have a dedicated page for Forms, which can be found here, this page will probably be of limited use to you unless you are a motor vehicle dealer. Unfortunately, and somewhat unusually, the Tennessee MVC Driver Services website doesn’t feature a dedicated Forms page. However, if you visit their home page you will find links to some commonly used forms, including crash reports and driving records.
Unfortunately, there is no statewide, centralized website for paying Tennessee traffic tickets online. Instead, you will have to find out which court you have to pay your ticket to. Fortunately, many cities and counties have their own online services that allow you to pay for traffic tickets online rather than having to visit the court in person. Memphis, for example, has an e-payment service and also has designated police stations that you can visit for paying a fine in person, if you can’t make it to the courthouse itself.
Vehicle registration in Tennessee is a bit different than in other states. That’s because titles and registrations are handled by each individual county rather than by the state government. As a result, if you want to register a vehicle in Tennessee then you will have to visit the County Clerk’s Office. Some cities and counties now allow you to renew your registration online, such as Nashville, but if this is the first registration for your vehicle then you will need to visit the County Clerk in person. You can find a list of County Clerk Offices here.
Again, titling is handled by the Tennessee County Clerk’s Office and not by the Tennessee MVC or Tennessee Driver Services. If you buy a vehicle from a dealership then the dealership should handle the title transfer for you. However, if you are buying a used vehicle from a private individual then you will need to have the title reassigned to you. This can be done by visiting the County Clerk’s Office in person at the same time as when you register the vehicle.