New Residents: Documents You Need to Register Your Vehicle in Tennessee

Sample of TN license plate to register your vehicle

As a new or returning Tennessee resident, you will need to register your vehicle in Tennessee as soon as you establish residency. It’s an easy process, but you need to gather a few documents and visit your local County Clerk’s office IN PERSON.

Some Tennessee counties still require an emissions inspection prior to registering your vehicle.

If you live in Davidson, Hamilton, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson or Wilson county, you will need to have your qualifying vehicle tested before you can register it. If you own a 1975 or newer gasoline or diesel engine vehicle weighing under 10,500 lbs., it must pass an emission test before you can register your vehicle in Tennessee. Motorcycles are exempt. Visit the website for emissions testing locations, details, and schedules. The fee is $9.00.

You can test your vehicle at any station regardless of where you will be registering it. However, you must apply for new Tennessee resident registration in person at the County Clerk’s office in the county where you live.

What to bring for your vehicle inspection:

  • Current out-of-state registration
  • Emission testing fee

Once your vehicle successfully passes the emission test, you will receive a vehicle emission inspection certificate indicating compliance.

What to bring with you to your County Clerk’s office:

The County Clerk’s office will conduct a visual inspection of your vehicle and verify the VIN. You’ll also need:

  • Vehicle Emission Inspection Certificate indicating “Passed”
  • Current out-of-state registration
  • ONE proof of primary identification (valid driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, etc.) OR
  • TWO proofs of secondary identification (Social security card, computerized check stub, health insurance card, etc.)
  • Proof of state residency – you will need TWO (current utility bill, current bank statement, voter registration card, etc.)
  • Vehicle’s most current out-of-state registration
  • Vehicle’s out-of-state title or the name and address of the lienholder to whom you are making payments

What happens if your vehicle doesn’t pass inspection?

If your vehicle doesn’t pass the emissions inspection, you can retest. But first, you will need to make the necessary repairs. A qualified service technician can diagnose and identify needed repairs based on the test results. Once the repairs are made, you can retest within 90 days at no additional cost within 90 days.

Once your vehicle is registered in Tennessee, future renewals can be completed online.

We hope this helps you prepare for registering your vehicle in Tennessee. If you need assistance with repairs in preparation for emission testing, visit our Service page or call 615-288-8535 to schedule a service visit.

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