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After you buy a car and get car insurance, your next step is to get your Tennessee license plates. 

Your Tennessee license plate number consists of a unique set of characters that associate your vehicle with:

  • Your current registration status and details. 
  • Your name and address.
  • Information about the vehicle itself.  

Like the VIN number, the license plate number is another unique identifier of your vehicle. 

Whether you’re getting the standard sequential plates or custom license plates, the process is basically the same. 

And then after you’ve got your new plates you’ll need to make sure to keep them up to date and renew your car tags each year.  

We’ve compiled all the information you’ll need to make it easy to get license plates for your vehicle in Tennessee.

Looking for more information about your vehicle (or a vehicle you’re interested in)? Check out our free Tennessee license plate lookup and our VIN Decoder. 

Plus, we’ve got plenty of resources for buying and selling vehicles, get started here:

How to Get a License Plate in Tennessee

When you buy a new or used vehicle in Tennessee, you’ll first need to transfer ownership into your name.

If you’ve bought a car from a dealership, they’ll typically take care of this process for you

But, if you’ve purchased a car from a private seller, you’ll be responsible for completing the process through the DMV.  

Visit your local county DMV office to get your new plates. 

Once the title is transferred into your name, you’ll be ready to register the vehicle and get your new license plates. In most cases, you’ll be able to take care of these steps all at once. 

To get new license plates in Tennessee, you’ll typically need to:

  • Provide proof of ownership for the vehicle you need plates for. 
  • Complete an application for a new Tennessee registration.
  • Complete a VIN inspection, depending on the type of vehicle and if you bought it out of state. 
  • Complete any necessary vehicle safety and emissions inspections. 
  • Provide proof of car insurance and/or have an active policy for the vehicle that meets Tennessee’s minimum insurance requirements. 
  • Have paid all necessary state, local, sales and use taxes. 
  • Pay your initial registration and license plate fees. 

In some cases, you may receive your new license plates on the spot. In other cases, your new plates will be mailed to you within about 2 to 3 weeks. 

After you’ve received your new Tennessee tags, you’ll need to install them. Learn how to remove and install license plates with this simple guide. 

Be sure to mount them properly and affix the necessary car tags to the plate. 

How much will my car tag cost in Tennessee?

The exact cost of your car tags will depend on the type of vehicle you have, the type of license plates, and where you live. 

Base fees for your car tags typically start at $26.50.

The total cost of your car tags will vary depending on:

  • The weight of your vehicle. 
  • The value/age of your vehicle. 
  • The type of vehicle you have (gasoline, hybrid, electric). 
  • Sale price, if applicable. 
  • Local fees and taxes. 
  • Specialty and personalized license plate fees, if applicable. 

For the most up-to-date car tag costs for your vehicle, please visit the official DMV website or refer to your renewal notice. 

Does Tennessee require a front license plate?

No, a front license plate is not required in Tennessee. 

Learn more about front license plate requirements here. 

Where do you place the car tag in Tennessee?

The car tag goes on the rear license plate. 

Failing to keep your plates and car tags valid, up-to-date, and properly mounted can result in a ticket. (What are car tags?)

Tennessee License Plate Renewal 

In order to continue driving legally, you’ll need to make sure that your car insurance policy is current and your car tags are renewed. 

Renewing your license plates in Tennessee is a simple process. You’ll typically have the option of renewing your plates:

  • In person at your local county office. 
  • By mail. 
  • Online. 

For any  license plate renewal eligibility questions, you should refer to your renewal notice or contact the Tennessee DMV. 

To make sure you’re able to renew your Tennessee license plates, you should have the following information and items ready:

  • Your current registration card and/or license plate renewal notice. 
  • Your Tennessee registration number/license plate number. 
  • Your vehicle’s VIN. (Where to find the VIN?)
  • Your current address. 
  • Your driver’s license number. 
  • Your current car insurance policy details
  • Payment for your license plate renewal fees. 

Replace a Lost, Stolen, or Damaged License Plate in Tennessee

Remember, in order to drive legally, you’ll need to display your valid, up-to-date license plates on your vehicle. 

If your plates have been lost, stolen, or damaged, you’ll want to be sure to replace them as soon as possible. 

In the case of a stolen license plate, be sure to contact your local law enforcement office to file a police report first. Learn more about what to do if your license plate is stolen here. 

In Tennessee, you’ll typically be able to replace your license plates:

  • By mail. 
  • In person. 

In order to get replacement license plates or stickers, you’ll typically need to provide:

  • Your full name, driver’s license number, and address to prove your identity
  • Your license plate number and registration details. 
  • Payment for the replacement fee. 

Types of License Plates in Tennessee

There are a variety of different types of license plates to choose from in Tennessee. 

You can order specialty license plates that represent a variety of organizations. 

You can also order personalized plates for an additional $35.

Available designs include:

  • 5th Special Forces Group – Airborne
  • Agriculture
  • Air Force Cross
  • Air Medal – Meritorious
  • Air Medal – Valor
  • Alabama
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Alpha Phi Alpha
  • Amateur Radio
  • American Eagle Foundation
  • Animal Friendly
  • Antique Auto
  • Antique Motorcycle
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Arkansas
  • Auburn
  • Austin Peay
  • Autism Awareness
  • Automobile
  • Automobile – In God We Trust
  • Belmont
  • Blue Star Family
  • Bosnia Era Veteran
  • Bosnia Veteran
  • Bronze Star – Meritorious
  • Bronze Star – Valor
  • Carson Newman
  • Children First
  • Children’s Hospital at Erlanger
  • Choose Life
  • Christian Brothers
  • Civil War Preservation
  • Clemson
  • Cold War Era Veteran
  • Delta Sigma Theta
  • Desert Storm Era Veteran
  • Desert Storm Veteran
  • Disabled Veteran
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Distinguished Service Cross
  • Dollywood Foundation
  • Down Syndrome Awareness
  • Driving to a Cure – Breast Cancer Awareness
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • East Tennessee Children’s Hospital
  • East Tennessee State
  • Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center
  • Emergency – E Plate
  • Enemy Evadee
  • Environment – State Parks
  • Firefighter
  • Fish & Wildlife Species – Bear
  • Fish & Wildlife Species – Turkey
  • Florida
  • Florida State
  • Fraternal Order of Police
  • Fraternal Order of Police – Associate Member
  • Freed-Hardeman
  • Friends of Shelby Bottoms
  • Friends of Sycamore Shoals Historic Area
  • Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains
  • Georgia Tech
  • Gold Star Family
  • Harpeth River Watershed
  • Helping Schools
  • Historic Franklin
  • Honorably Discharged
  • Indiana University
  • International Association of Firefighters
  • Jackson State University
  • Kappa Alpha Psi
  • Kentucky
  • King University
  • Korean Service Defense Medal
  • Korean War Era Veteran
  • Korean War Veteran
  • Lane College
  • LeBonheur Children’s Hospital
  • LeMoyne-Owen College
  • Lee University
  • Legion of Merit
  • Lineman Power Tennessee
  • Lipscomb University
  • Maryville College
  • Masons
  • Medal of Honor
  • Memphis
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Memphis Rock-N-Soul Museum
  • Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Military
  • Milligan University
  • Mississippi
  • Mississippi State University
  • Motorcycle
  • Nashville Predators
  • National Guard
  • National Rifle Association
  • National Wild Turkey Federation
  • Navy Cross
  • Niswonger Children’s Hospital
  • Omega Psi Phi
  • Operation Enduring Freedom
  • Operation Enduring Freedom Era
  • Operation Inherent Resolve
  • Operation Inherent Resolve Era
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom Era
  • Operation New Dawn
  • Operation New Dawn Era
  • Paratrooper
  • Pat Summit Foundation
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Penn State University
  • Phi Beta Sigma
  • Prisoner of War
  • Purdue University
  • Purple Heart
  • Radnor Lake Preservation
  • Rakkasans
  • Rescue Squad
  • Rescue Squad Official
  • Retired Female Firefighter
  • Rhodes College
  • Save the Bees
  • Sewanee
  • Share the Road
  • Silver Star – Valor
  • Small Mouth Bass
  • Somalia Era Veteran
  • Somalia Veteran
  • Sons of Confederate Veterans
  • Sportsman Wildlife Federation
  • St Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Submarine Veteran
  • Support Our Troops
  • Tennesseans for the Arts
  • Tennessee Arts Commission – Cool Cat
  • Tennessee Arts Commission – Fish
  • Tennessee Arts Commission – Rainbow
  • Tennessee Association of Realtors
  • Tennessee Nurses Foundation
  • Tennessee Police Benevolent Association
  • Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association
  • Tennessee State Guard
  • Tennessee State University
  • Tennessee Tech University
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Tennessee Walking Horse
  • Tennessee Wesleyan University
  • Tennessee Wildlife Federation – Hummingbird
  • Tennessee Wildlife Federation – Multi Animal
  • Tennessee Woman Veteran
  • Trauma Physician
  • Trevecca Nazarene University
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Tusculum University
  • US Army Ranger
  • US Coast Guard Auxillary
  • UT Chattanooga
  • UT Football Championship
  • UT Health Science Center
  • UT Knoxville
  • UT Knoxville – Alumni Program
  • UT Martin
  • UT Womens Basketball Championship
  • Union University
  • University of Tennessee – All Colleges System
  • Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vietnam War Era Veteran
  • Vietnam War Veteran
  • Virginia Tech University
  • Watchable Wildlife
  • Women Veterans of Color
  • World War II Era Veteran
  • World War II Veteran
  • Youth Villages
  • Zeta Phi Beta

For more information about Tennessee license plates as well as official forms, fees, and details, check out the state’s website at the following link: