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How to Renew a Driver License in Tennessee

Motorists must complete the Tennessee drivers license renewal process every eight years before their birth date, unless their driving credentials were issued prior to January 1, 2016. In this case, motorists must renew drivers license credentials five years from the original date of issuance. When renewing drivers license documents, motorists may complete the process online, in person or by mail. However, motorists who apply for Tennessee drivers license renewal online or by mail must meet eligibility requirements to do so. Learning how and where to renew drivers license credentials is the best place to start.

Tennessee Drivers License Renewal Requirements

Motorists must renew a drivers license in Tennessee before the credential expires, as driving with an expired drivers license privileges results in the same penalties as operating a vehicle without driving credentials. For this reason, motorists must renew drivers licenses online, in person or by mail as soon as they receive their notice from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS). In most cases, drivers receive a DMV license renewal notice approximately eight to 10 weeks before their license is set to expire. Driving license renewal notices include specific instructions and requirements. However, motorists who need to renew a TN driving license for the first time may only apply in person at a Driver Service Center, as these applicants must submit proof of citizenship or lawful permanent residency. Motorists may apply for online drivers license renewal if they are not renewing a driving license for the first time.

Penalties of Not Renewing an Expired Drivers License in Tennessee

Motorists must apply for DMV license renewal in TN before their driving credentials expire, as failure to do so may result in penalties and fines. As such, driving with an expired driver license of more than 30 calendar days results in a minor late fee, while operating a vehicle with an expired driving license of more than six months results in a higher penalty fee. If motorists fail to renew drivers license credentials within five years from the date of expiration, then they will need to pay a late fee and retake their road skills test, knowledge exam and vision screening. If motorists do not receive a Tennessee driver license renewal notice from the TDOSHS, then they may still renew their driving credentials before they expire. However, they must renew an expired driving license in person at a Driver License Service Center.

How to Renew Drivers License Online in Tennessee

“Can you renew your license online?” is something you may wonder. In most cases, you may renew a Tennessee drivers license online if you do not need to submit proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency (even if your credentials are expired). Additionally, you may apply for online driver license renewal if you have a current valid photo license. To renew your driver license online, you must log on to the TDOSHS website and provide your last name, date of birth, license or ID number and Social Security Number. You must also pay the driving license renewal fee by credit card. After renewing drivers license credentials online, you must print your confirmation receipt and retain it in your vehicle with your expired drivers license until your new credential arrives in the mail.

How to Renew a Drivers License in Tennessee by Mail

If you cannot renew your license online or if you prefer to apply for renewal by mail, then you must follow the specific instructions on your courtesy notice. However, you cannot renew drivers license credentials by mail if you are renewing a TN driving license for the first time or if you need to submit proof of U.S. citizenship. Furthermore, you cannot renew a driving license by mail if your photo is not current or if you did not receive a renewal notice from the TDOSHS.

Where to Renew a Tennessee Drivers License in Person

When renewing drivers license credentials in person, you must visit any Driver Service Center throughout the state during business hours. When renewing your TN driver license in person, you may need to take a new photograph and submit proof of citizenship or lawful permanent residency. When completing the drivers license renewal process in person, you may submit the following documents as proof of citizenship or permanent residency:

  • An official or certified birth certificate
  • A certificate or report of birth abroad
  • A valid U.S. passport
  • Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization
  • A U.S. citizen identification card
  • A permanent resident alien card or resident re-entry permit
  • A foreign passport

You must pay all driving license renewal fees in the form of cash, check, money order or credit card when renewing in person. However, specific Tennessee DMV license renewal fees may vary.

How to Renew Drivers License in Tennessee as a Military Member

Tennessee drivers license renewal requirements are slightly different for military members, as driving credentials remain valid if the license is not suspended or canceled and military personnel are out-of-state serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. However, military members must renew drivers license credentials within 60 days of returning to the state or they may apply for TN driving license renewal online any time. Furthermore, military members may add a Code 30 endorsement to their driver licenses, as the code indicates that the license does not expire. To add a Code 30 driving license renewal endorsement to a credential, applicants must visit a Driver Service Center to submit all supporting documentation and pay all applicable fees. Alternately, applicants may request an endorsement by mailing all documentation to the Tennessee Department of Safety’s Cashier Office in Nashville. To add a Code 30 DMV license renewal endorsement to a license, military members must submit the following:

  • A military identification card (a notarized copy of the front and back)
  • Out-of-state military orders
  • A current mailing address and email address
  • Payment for all applicable fees

Note: When adding a Code 30 TN driver license renewal endorsement to a driving credential, residents may submit a letter on military letterhead in lieu of military orders or they may submit a leave and earnings statement (LES).

How to Renew a Tennessee Drivers License While Out-of-State

To renew drivers license credentials from out-of-state, Tennessee residents may apply for renewal online or by mail. However, motorists must refer to the instructions on their TN drivers license renewal notice and include a “Send To” address if they wish to mail their new credentials to their temporary address. However, the TDOSHS cannot send TN drivers license renewals to addresses outside of the country.


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