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Tennessee License Plate Search

Unused license plates should be surrendered to a DMV office either in person or by mail. License plates can be obtained from Department of Revenue offices in Tennessee.

Tennessee license plates must have valid decals on the rear plate. If a new vehicle is purchased, plates can be transferred if the vehicle is under the same owner’s name.

All license plate types can be personalized with a custom plate number for an additional fee. It is advisable to look up available plate numbers in advance.

Sample Tennessee License Plate

Sample Tennessee License Plate

Applying for License Plates in Tennessee

License plates can be obtained from Department of Revenue offices in Tennessee.

If you are applying for a standard license plate, the following is required:

  • Proof that vehicle is insured
  • Valid ID (e.g., Tennessee driver’s license)
  • Emissions test certificate
  • Title document
  • Lien document (if applicable)
  • Completed application forms
  • Payment for registration fees and taxes

Applications can be made in person at a DOR office in your county.

Types of License Plates in Tennessee

In addition to the standard license plate issued in the state of Tennessee, there are also other types of plates you can apply for:

  • Temporary License Plates
  • Specialty License Plates
  • Disability License Plates

Most license plates can be personalized with a custom plate number, as long as the DOR’s guidelines are followed.

Temporary License Plates in Tennessee

If you purchase a new vehicle from a dealership, the dealer should provide you with temporary license plates while your vehicle’s registration is being processed.

If you are buying a vehicle from a private seller, you must obtain temporary license plates from an authorised dealer.

Temporary license plates allow you to drive legally on Tennessee roads while you wait for your license plates to be issued. They cost $5.50 and are valid for only 30 days.

Specialty License Plates in Tennessee

If you want to have a license plate with a custom emblem or unique design, the following are a few of the specialty license plates available from the DOR:

  • Collegiate License Plates
    • Alpha Kappa Alpha Plates
    • Tennessee State University Plates
    • Clemson University Plates
  • Sporting License Plates
    • Nashville Predator Plates
    • Memphis Grizzly Plates
    • Tennessee Titans Plates
  • Military License Plates
    • Bronze Star Plates
    • Ex-Prisoner of War Plates
    • Vietnam Veteran Plates
  • Special Causes License Plates
    • Youth Villages Plates
    • Sportsmen’s Wildlife Foundation Plates
    • Driving For A Cure Plates
  • Occupational License Plates
    • EMT Plates
    • Firefighter Plates
    • Police Emblem Plates

Some specialty plates require additional documentation in order to be eligible. These plates also have an extra fee in addition to the regular registration or renewal fees required.

Contact your local DOR office for more information about the specialty plates available for your vehicle.

Disability License Plates in Tennessee

If you have a disability, and medical documentation for it, you can apply for disability plates or placards.

Disability placards are issued to people with:

  • Temporary disabilities
  • Permanent disabilities

Disability license plates are issued to:

  • People with permanent disabilities
  • Veterans with disabilities
  • Vehicles that provide transportation to people with disabilities

Personalized License Plates in Tennessee

If you want to personalize your license plate, you must follow these guidelines from the DOR:

  • Use up to 7 characters (i.e., a combination of letters and numbers)
  • Do not use profanity
  • Must be available for registration

You can look up available plate numbers online, and you should provide multiple options in case your first choice is rejected or unavailable.

Transferring License Plates in Tennessee

If you purchase a new vehicle in Tennessee, you can transfer your license plates to a new vehicle as long as your name is in the title.

You’ll be required to pay a transfer fee when registering your new vehicle with your old license plates.

It is not possible to sell your license plates to the person who is buying your previous vehicle.

Surrendering License Plates in Tennessee

The DOR requires you to surrender your license plates if you:

  • Cancel your vehicle’s insurance
  • Do not need your plate after selling your vehicle
  • Are no longer eligible for your disability plates
  • Move out of state

License plates can be surrendered by mailing or bringing them to a DOR office in Tennessee.

Lost, Damaged, or Stolen License Plates in Tennessee

If your license plates are lost, damaged, or stolen, you can apply for replacements from the DOR.

It is mandatory to submit a police report if your license plates were stolen.

You’ll be required to submit the following to the DOR to obtain replacement plates:

  • Copy of police report
  • Completed application form for lost, stolen, or damaged plates
  • Vehicle’s registration documents
  • Payment of replacement fees

Renewing License Plates in Tennessee

Before your vehicle’s registration expires, it is necessary to renew your license plates. You can do this by submitting any necessary documents or payments:

  • In person
  • Online
  • By mail

When submitting your payment in the mail, do not use cash but instead provide a check or money order made out to the DOR.

Summary of Fees for License Plates in Tennessee

The following fees may be required when you register your vehicle:

  • Standard Plates:
    • Fee: varies by vehicle type and weight
  • Temporary Plates: $5.50
  • Specialty Plate (e.g., Memphis Grizzly Plates)
    • Fee: $61.50
  • Personalization:
    • Standard Plate: $35
    • Personalized Plate: $70
  • Transfer: $1
  • Replacement:
    • Plates: $11.75
    • Decals: Free

Note: Taxes, service fees, and other fees are not included above.

Looking Up License Plates in Tennessee

It is possible to look up a license plate number's availability, or to obtain additional information about a vehicle with a registered plate. Simply use the search bar above to find license plates in Tennessee or any state in the U.S.