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Motorists must complete the Tennessee vehicle registration renewal process through their local county clerk’s office under the state Department of Revenue. Car owners may renew car registration online, in person or by mail in most cases. However, specific DMV vehicle registration renewal processes vary by county, as not all counties allow drivers to renew car registration documents online. If residents cannot renew expired car registration materials online, they must complete the process in person or by mail. To learn more about how to renew car registration materials, review the information below.

When can I complete the Tennessee vehicle registration renewal process?

Motorists may apply for DMV vehicle registration renewal in Tennessee as early as 90 days before their car’s license plates are set to expire. As a reminder to renew expired vehicle registration materials, the state Department of Revenue (DOR) sends motorists a courtesy renewal notice before the automobile’s date of expiration. In most cases, the DOR sends auto registration renewal notices six weeks in advance of the vehicle’s expiration date. Before renewing car registration materials, however, residents must submit their vehicle for an emissions inspection if they live in the following counties: Davidson, Rutherford, Wilson, Williamson, Hamilton and Sumner.

Tennessee Vehicle Registration Renewal Requirements

Before renewing a car registration certificate, motorists must bring their vehicle to an official inspection station to complete a smog test if they live in a county that requires annual emissions testing. Motorcycles are exempt from these TN car registration renewal requirements, but gasoline and diesel vehicles newer than model year 1975 must undergo an emissions inspection prior to renewal if they have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 10,500 lbs. Before applying for DMV vehicle registration renewal, car owners may visit any testing station in the state, regardless of which county the vehicle is registered in. After completing the inspection, car owners must complete the expired car registration renewal process online, in person or by mail within 90 days.

Penalties of Not Renewing Car Registration in Tennessee

After renewing a TN car registration certificate, motorists receive new license plate decals showing that they paid regulatory state and local licensing fees. If car owners do not renew car registration materials, they will not receive current license plate decals and they may receive a traffic citation if a law enforcement officer pulls them over for any reason. For this reason, motorists must apply for car registration renewal as soon as they receive their reminder notice from the state DOR, or within 90 days of the automobile’s registration expiration date. Residents do not need an expired car registration renewal notice to complete the application process, however. If motorists cannot provide a DMV vehicle registration renewal notice when renewing in person or by mail, they may provide a copy of the automobile’s current title or registration certificate.

How to Renew Car Registration Online in Tennessee

The most convenient way to renew car registration materials is to apply for online renewal through a local county clerk’s website. To renew vehicle registration online, applicants must submit payment using a credit card and they must provide their car’s license plate number, identification number (VIN) and title number. After applying for DMV car registration renewal online, applicants may print their receipt and retain it in their vehicle until their new materials arrive in the mail. However, not all counties offer online car registration renewal in Tennessee, as the DOR does not maintain online registration applications. If motorists cannot renew auto registration materials online, they must apply for renewal in person or by mail. Furthermore, online vehicle registration renewal is not available to owners of vehicles weighing more than 55,000 lbs.

How to Renew Tennessee Car Registration in Person

If motorists cannot renew car registration online, they may visit their local county clerk’s office to apply for renewal in person. When renewing car registration in Tennessee, applicants must submit the following documents:

  • Proof of completing an emissions inspection (if the county requires it)
  • An Application for Vehicle Inspection Exemption (CN-1026), if applicable
  • The vehicle registration renewal notice or the automobile’s current registration card
  • Payment for registration taxes and fees

If motorists need to renew an expired TN car registration but they lose their emissions testing slip, they may still renew their materials through a local county clerk’s office if they submit the car’s current registration certificate.

How to Renew Car Registration in Tennessee by Mail

To apply for DMV vehicle registration renewal by mail, motorists may follow the specific instructions on their reminder card or they may send all required documentation directly to their local county clerk’s office. When renewing Tennessee auto registration by mail, drivers must submit their emissions inspection certificate or an Application for Vehicle Inspection Exemption (CN-1026), payment for all taxes and fees, and a car registration renewal notice or the vehicle’s current registration card or title certificate. To pay for an expired car registration renewal by mail, motorists may submit payment in the form of a check or credit card, if the county clerk allows for credit card payments. If the county allows for credit card payments, applicants may obtain a credit card authorization form through their county clerk’s website. Furthermore, motorists who renew car registration documents by mail must send their application materials to their county clerk’s office at least seven to 10 business days before their vehicle is set to expire.

How to Renew a Tennessee Vehicle Registration from Out-of-State

To renew a Tennessee car registration from out-of-state, applicants may complete the process online through their local county clerk’s website (if the county offers online vehicle registration renewals) or they may submit their application materials by mail. Before renewing car registration by mail, however, applicants must apply for a vehicle exemption if their automobile is registered in a county that requires emissions inspections. To apply for a car registration renewal emissions exemption, motorists must complete an Application for Vehicle Exemption (CN-1026) and submit it to the Division of Air Pollution Control in Nashville along with a copy of their automobile’s registration certificate (or proof of the car’s purchase) and evidence of the vehicle being out of the state (such as a school tuition receipt or an out-of-state utility bill). After submitting the vehicle registration renewal exemption form, the Division will review the application and issue a Certificate of Compliance if motorists are eligible for the exemption. After returning to the state, however, car owners must submit their vehicle for an emissions inspection as soon as possible.

Renewing a Tennessee Car Registration as A Military Member

Military members may apply for vehicle registration renewal in TN in person if they reside in the state or by mail if they are stationed outside of the state. In some cases, military members may renew car registration credentials online if their county clerk’s office allows it. When renewing auto registration materials, military members must submit the following documentation to their local county clerk’s office:

  • A current copy of their military leave and earnings statement (LES)
  • A current copy of their stationing orders (indicating that the applicant is currently out of state)
  • A copy of the car’s current registration card
  • Payment for all applicable fees
  • An Application for Vehicle Exemption (CN-1026), if military members live in a county that requires emissions testing prior to registration renewal

If applying for a TN DMV registration renewal emissions exemption, military members must submit their application and wait to receive a Certificate of Compliance from the Division of Air Pollution Control before they may renew their vehicle’s registration. Additionally, military members must submit their automobile for an inspection upon returning to the state. Furthermore, motorists may submit auto registration renewal emissions exemption forms to the address below:

Division of Air Pollution Control

Mobile & Air Resources Management Program

William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower

312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 15th Floor

Nashville, TN 37243

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