Getting a Tennessee driver’s license is exciting until you think about the process of obtaining a TN driver’s license. Don’t worry. We’ve created a simple guideline to help you get your Tennessee driver’s license from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TN DOS). Let’s get your TN driver’s license!
Types of Tennessee Driver’s Licenses
The Tennessee Department of Safety (TN DOS) has different classes of driver’s licenses depending on your vehicle type. Tennessee also issues REAL ID – compliant identifications. You can obtain the following identification types in Tennessee:
- Standard Tennessee driver’s license: Class D
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL): Class A, B, and C
- Motorcycle License: Class M
- Hardship license: Class H (for drivers who are 14 years of age in certain hardship situations)
- Instruction permit: Class P (used to practice driving before obtaining a full driver’s license
Tennessee Driver’s License Requirements
Before you rush to your local TN DOS branch, you need to make sure you are required to apply for a new TN driver’s license.
You must have a Tennessee driver’s license if the following applies:
- You are a current TN resident who’s never obtained a license
- You are a new TN resident and want to apply for a TN driver’s license or transfer an out-of-state driver’s license
- You plan on operating a non-commercial vehicle
- You have legal presence in TN and the US (you are NOT required to have a TN driver’s license IF you have a diplomatic driver’s license that has been issued by the US Department of State.)
You are NOT required to obtain a TN driver’s license if you fall into one of the following scenarios:
- Individuals who are not US citizens, but can operate a vehicle with a valid driver’s license that has been issued by a different country or state for a period of 6 months while being employed in a technical or managerial position in TN
- Any non-resident possessing a valid driver’s license obtained in their home state or country that matches a relevant type or class of license in TN
- Those operating a farm tractor or road machinery temporarily moved or operated on a TN highway
- Students who pursue a driver training course in public or private secondary schools or licensed commercial driver training schools (CDTS)
You are NOT eligible to obtain a Tennessee driver’s license if any of the following situations apply:
- Habitual drunkards and those who are dealing with opioid addiction
- Applicants whom the commissioner reasonably believes are unable to operate motor vehicles safely due to their physical or mental disabilities
- Anyone who doesn’t provide proof of financial responsibility and is required to show it
- Applicants who are under 18 years of age who don’t make satisfactory school progress or who have quit school before graduation
- People who are not Lawful Permanent Residents or US Citizens
Applying for your Tennessee Driver’s License
To be eligible to receive a TN driver’s license, you must be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident. Be advised that Tennessee issues REAL ID-compliant identification.
You will be denied a driver’s license if you are:
- Addicted to alcohol or narcotics
- Physically or mentally unable to operate a motor vehicle safely
- Unable to provide proof of your financial responsibility (if required)
To receive a Tennessee driver’s license, you need to visit your local TN DOS branch and do the following:
- Provide proof of the following:
- Legal US status (such as a US passport, work authorization card, or US birth certificate)
- Identity (such as your US birth certificate, marriage license, or US citizenship certificate)
- TN residency (2 documents are required, and they must be dated within the last 4 months)
- Social Security number (if you don’t have an SSN, and you are NOT applying for a REAL ID, you can submit a Social Security Number Affidavit (Form SF-1324).
- Name change (if applicable), such as a divorce decree, marriage certificate, or court order)
- Pass the following DOS tests:
- Vision screening
- Knowledge exam
- Driving test (you must make an appointment to take the driving test)
- Pay the $28 fee
Unless it is otherwise indicated, your Tennessee driver’s license will be valid for 8 years at a time.
Acceptable Identification Documents in Tennessee
In Tennessee, different identification documents are acceptable to use when you’re applying for a driver’s license.
Examples of acceptable identification documents you can use include:
- Birth certificate
- Armed Forces ID
- Permanent resident card
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Foreign passport with a valid I-94 (the expiration date must be more than 2 months from the date you visit the branch)
Documents you can use to verify your true full name include:
- Certificate of registration document that verifies the formation of a domestic partnership
- Adoption documents that contain your legal name as a result of the adoption
- A dissolution of marriage document that contains your legal name as a result of a court order
- Name change documents that contain your legal name before and after
- Marriage certificate
Acceptable documents for proving your Tennessee residency include:
- Tennessee vehicle or vessel title or registration
- Resident utility bills (including cell phone bills)
- A bank statement
- Insurance documents
Legal guardians, parents, and children can use a birth certificate to prove their identity. Spouses or domestic partners can use a marriage license or domestic partner registration certificate to show their relationship to the individual to whom the acceptable residency documentation was addressed.
Obtaining a Tennessee Driver’s License Under the Age of 18
As a resident of Tennessee who wants to obtain a driver’s license, there are different steps and phases you are required to complete.
Teenage Residents Who Are New to Tennessee
As a new resident in Tennessee, you are eligible to transfer your out-of-state learner’s permit or license if you meet the following requirements:
- Be at least:
- 15 years old to transfer a permit
- 16 years old to transfer a driver’s license
- Have attained your learner’s permit for 180 (required to apply for a TN driver’s license)
- Submit a certified driving record from your previous state (must be dated within 30 days of transfer)
- Pass the TN vision test
- Pay the required fee for the following:
- Learner permit: $10.50
- Intermediate restricted license: $24.50
- Intermediate unrestricted license: $2
- Unrestricted Class D license: $10
- Hardship license: $9
The Tennessee Graduated Driver’s License Program (GDL)
Tennessee is one of many states that has a Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) program. This program is designed to reduce many of the risks that are associated with teenage drivers. The GDL program requires teenagers to take specific steps to meet the program’s requirements as they earn their full Tennessee driver’s license privileges.
Teenagers who complete this process are eligible to proceed to the following stages, such as the following:
- Learner’s permit
- Intermediate restricted driver’s license
- Intermediate unrestricted driver’s license
- Standard TN driver’s license
Tennessee Age Requirements
The following are the age requirements for teenage drivers in Tennessee:
- 14 years old: may be eligible for a hardship license
- 15 years old: eligible for a learner’s permit
- 16 years old: eligible for an intermediate restricted driver’s license
- 17 years old: eligible for an intermediate unrestricted driver’s license
- 18 years old: eligible for a regular unrestricted driver’s license
Tennessee Learner’s Permit
You must be at least 15 years old to obtain a TN learner’s permit. You can choose if you want to start the process of obtaining a REAL ID based on the documents you bring. You must visit a Tennessee Department of Safety (TN DOS) branch and complete the following steps:
- Have your parent or legal guardian sign a Tennessee Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation Form (Form SF-0259).
- Show proof of school enrollment that confirms good attendance and satisfactory progress (must be signed and dated within 30 DAYS before applying) – If you have already graduated, you must present your diploma or a GED certificate.
- Provide proof of the following:
- Identity and US citizenship or legal presence
- Tennessee residency (2 documents are required)
- Social Security number (if you don’t have a social security number, and are NOT planning to obtain a REAL ID, you can bring a Social Security Number Affidavit (Form SF-1324).
- Bring a completed Proof of School Attendance/Progress (SF-1010). This form can’t be downloaded. You can go to your school and ask for this form.
- Pass the following exams:
- Class D knowledge exam
- Pay the $10.50 permit fee
With a Tennessee learner’s permit, you can operate a vehicle, provided you are accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old. You can NOT operate a motor vehicle between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM.
Once you have your TN learner’s permit, the next step you need to complete is the supervised behind-the-wheel training. You will be required to complete 50 hours of driving practice, with 10 of night driving. You must complete this training with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old. After you complete your behind-the-wheel requirement and attained your TN learner’s permit for at least 180 days, you can apply for your TN intermediate license.
Tennessee Intermediate Restricted Driver’s License
When you’re 16 years old and have attained a valid learner’s permit for 180 days, you can advance to a TN intermediate restricted driver’s license. You must make a road test appointment.
When you arrive at your skills test appointment, you need to make sure you have the following with you:
- A completed Certification of 50 Hours Behind the Wheel Experience Form (Form SF-1256). This form MUST be signed by your parent or guardian.
- A financial responsibility form that MUST also be signed by your parent or guardian
- Proof of enrollment in school, confirming good attendance and progress (this form must be signed and dated 30 days prior) if you are applying with an out-of-state permit or driver’s license
- Your learner’s permit ( you need to be prepared to show the same proofs of identity, residency, and Social Security number you provided when you applied for your permit. If you did NOT bring REAL ID-compliant documents for your permit application and you want to upgrade, you need to have the documents with you now).
- Proof of vehicle registration and auto insurance for your road test vehicle
If you pass the road test, you must pay the $24.50 licensing fee. With a TN restricted driver’s license, you are allowed to operate a motor vehicle without supervision. However, you must adhere to the following restrictions:
- You are NOT allowed to drive between the hours of 11 PM and 6 AM unless the following applies:
- You’re with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old
- You’re traveling to and from work or a school-related function or purpose
- You’re traveling between the hours of 4 AM and 6 AM to or from fishing or hunting, and you have a valid fishing or hunting license
- You can’t operate a motor vehicle with more than 1 passenger unless the following applies:
- At least one of the passengers is at least 21 years old
- The passengers are your siblings, step-brothers, or step-sisters, or they are adopted or foster children who also reside in the home with you, and you have written permission from your parent(s) or guardian(s) to transport them.
Tennessee Intermediate Unrestricted Driver’s License
When you are at least 17 years old, and you’ve attained a valid TN restricted driver’s license for one year, you’re eligible to receive your TN intermediate unrestricted driver’s license. You will need to bring the following with you to your local TN DOS branch:
- Your current restricted TN intermediate license (If you didn’t apply for a REAL ID-compliant license before and you want to upgrade to one now, you will need to bring all the required documents with you.)
- A secondary form of identification
- Payment of $2 for the license upgrade fee
At this time, your Tennessee driving restrictions are lifted. The word “intermediate” will remain on your driver’s license, but you may drive unsupervised at any hour.
Tennessee Standard Unrestricted Driver’s License
When you’re 18 years old, you can apply to obtain the “Intermediate” removed from your driver’s license and receive a standard unrestricted driver’s license. You must pay a $10 license upgrade fee.
You also have the option of keeping your intermediate unrestricted license (with the word “intermediate” on it) until it expires after 5 years. You will then be automatically issued a regular Tennessee driver’s license.
Other Tennessee Licenses
There are other licenses that can be obtained in Tennessee.
This license is for special circumstances in cases of family hardship. To apply, you must do the following:
- You must be at least 14 years old
- Complete a Hardship License Application Form (Form SF-0263)
- Have a state-approved Driver’s Education (Driver’s Ed)/Training course completion certificate (this requirement may be waived if you’ve had a permit for at least 3 months)
Send the required documents to the following address:
Department of Safety and Homeland Security
Driver Services Division – Hardship License
1150 Foster Ave.
Nashville, TN 37243
If your application is application is approved, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security will send it back along with a letter of approval. You will then be required to visit your local TN DOS branch with the following:
- Primary and secondary proofs of identification
- Proof of Social Security number, or, if you don’t have one, a completed Social Security Number Affidavit. (click here to download the form.)
- Your letter of hardship approval from the TN DOS
Your TN hardship license will carry the following restrictions:
- You may only operate a motor vehicle during daylight hours (5 AM – 7 PM)
- Your travel is limited to authorized locations as specified in an approval letter from the TN DOS (common allowances include school, work, and medical needs)
- You may only drive within a perimeter of 25 miles
- You are only allowed to drive with passengers who are immediate family members
Your Tennessee hardship license will automatically expire when you turn 16 years old.
Tennessee Teenage Motorcycle and Moped Licenses
If you are at least 15 years old and want to operate a moped or motorcycle, you can apply for the following:
- A restricted license for a motorized bicycle of less than 50 cc
- A limited license for a motor-driven cycle/scooter 51 to 125cc
- A motorcycle learner’s permit for motorcycles 125 cc or more
At 16 years old, you can obtain a TN motorcycle endorsement to operate a motorcycle in addition to a car.
Auto Insurance in Tennessee
Per TN law, you are required to obtain auto insurance if you are operating a motor vehicle.
Tennessee Learner’s Permit Insurance
Teenagers with a permit may be covered under the insurance of the licensed adult driver riding with them. For more information, you can contact your auto insurance provider. If your teenage driver is not covered, you may want to consider upgrading your auto insurance policy.
Tennessee Intermediate (Restricted and Unrestricted) License Insurance
Teenage drivers who are applying for a Tennessee intermediate driver’s license are required to show proof of auto insurance. Teenagers may be added to an existing family policy or a parent’s auto insurance policy, or they may obtain their auto insurance policy. You may qualify for different discounts on your auto insurance policy.
Getting Your Tennessee Driver’s License as a New Resident of Tennessee
If you have a driver’s license from a different state, you are required to transfer it to Tennessee within 30 days of becoming a resident.
To obtain your TN driver’s license, you must visit your local TN DOS branch and do the following:
- Surrender your out-of-state driver’s license
- Pass the TN vision screening
- Present the following documents (ONLY original documents are accepted):
- Proof of your legal status in the US (such as your birth certificate, permanent resident card, or US citizenship certificate)
- Proof of your Social Security Number
- Proof of your name change (if applicable), such as your marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order
- 2 documents that prove your TN address (such as your utility bill, bank statement, paycheck stub) – documents must be issued within the last 4 months
- Have your photo taken
- Pay the $28 fee
If your out-of-state driver’s license has expired for longer than 6 months, or if you have a driver’s license from a different country, you must also pass the knowledge and driving tests. You will NOT be eligible for a TN driver’s license if your out-of-state driver’s license is suspended or revoked.
The Tennessee Written Exam & Road Test
In Tennessee, you must pass the written exam and road test to receive your TN driver’s license. Here’s what you need to know.
Taking the Tennessee Written Exam
The Tennessee written exam has a total of 30 questions. You must answer at least 24 questions correctly to pass with a minimum passing score of 80%. The minimum age to apply to take this test is 15.
Taking the Tennessee Road Test
Tennessee also has a road exam that you must pass to receive your TN driver’s license. The TN road exam is used to determine your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by performing common driving maneuvers safely. You will be tested on different maneuvers, such as reversing, parallel parking, starting the car, stopping the car, and other maneuvers.
Non-Commercial Driver’s Licenses in Tennessee
In Tennessee, you can obtain a Class H or XH license, which is a hardship license. A hardship license can be issued to TN residents who are 14 years old to operate either Class D passenger vehicles or Class M motorcycles, or both. This hardship license is ONLY issued in situations when family hardship is limited to specific needs.
Proof of hardship must be mailed with a Hardship License Application (click here to download) to the Driver Services Administrative Office for evaluation. Each submitted application will be reviewed and evaluated on an individual basis. Less than 1% of all licenses that are issued to minors are hardship licenses. If the hardship license is approved, you will receive a letter authorizing the application for a hardship license.
If you are approved for a Class H hardship license, you must pass a vision screening, knowledge test, and road test to operate a Class D passenger vehicle. However, to operate a Class M vehicle, you will also be required to take the Class M knowledge and driving test in addition to the Class D knowledge test. Once you are licensed, the operation of the Class M vehicle is limited to 125cc.
Tennessee Class H licenses are only valid for daylight hours and for travel to authorized locations as specified in the approval letter. TN drivers who have a hardship license and are at least 15 years of age are extended the same privileges as those who hold a Class PD license when they are accompanied by any of the responsible adults listed for the Class PD. Regardless of age at the time of approval, a Hardship license will expire on the applicant’s 16th birthday.
Be advised that if you are approved for a hardship license and it is less than 6 months until your 16th birthday, you will be required to renew your Class PD upon expiration of your hardship license. You must attain your learner’s permit until you have completed a total of 180 days of driving experience between the two license types and meet the Graduated Driver’s License requirements as outlined in the Driver’s License Handbook.
If the holder of the hardship license or certificate is at least 15 years of age, the Class H license or certificate may be used as an instructional permit for Class D vehicles as long as ALL other requirements about the appropriate learner’s permit or certificate are met.
You must be eligible to receive a Tennessee hardship license. To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be a Tennessee resident who is at least 14 years of age
- For a first-time license, you must comply with the Compulsory School Attendance and Satisfactory Progress Law
- Applicants for a Hardship License must meet the same eligibility standards for Class D License
- Applicants who are 14 years of age, or those who have not held a Learner’s Permit for at least 3 months, must show proof of successful completion of a state-approved Driver’s Ed/Training Course
Individuals who attain a valid TN hardship license can operate Class D (passenger vehicle) or Class M (motor-driven cycle) vehicles ONLY. However, to operate a Class M vehicle, you are required to take the Class M knowledge test and Class M driving test in addition to the Class D knowledge test.
TN hardship licenses are ONLY valid during daylight hours (no earlier than 5 AM and no later than 7 PM.) No exceptions will be made in this situation. Passengers are limited to immediate family members ONLY! Hardship licenses are approved for the most direct route only with a mileage limitation of 25 miles one way.
Individuals who have a valid TN hardship license are NOT allowed to tow other vehicles or trailers. Destinations that will be considered for approval with the appropriate justification include the following:
- School – only if bus transportation is not provided. A letter from the principal/headmaster on school letterhead verifying that bus transportation is not provided from home to school and/or verifying participation in the school-sponsored activity and/or accredited course is required.
- Work – A letter from the employer verifying employment is required. The job must assist in financially supporting the family.
- Medical – If there is a medical situation that applies to the applicant, a letter from the attending physician verifying the medical condition and frequency of visits is required. If the medical situation applies to someone other than the applicant, they are required to submit a medical statement from the attending physician verifying their condition and stating how it affects that person’s ability to drive. Immediate family members can include parents, grandparents, step-parents, or legal guardians if they are living in the same household as the applicant.
- Documentation – you are required to provide all required documentation
Be advised that if a driver is found to be driving before or after hours, on an unapproved route, or with non-approved passengers, their license can be suspended.
Married, Divorced, or Name Change?
If you’ve changed your name for any reason, such as getting married, divorced, or another reason, you will be required to show proof of your legal name change if you’re applying for a new TN driver’s license or identification card. If you’re interested in having a REAL ID-compliant TN driver’s license or ID card in your true full name, you’ll need to present documents, such as your marriage license, to show proof of this name change.
Speaking of name changes, if the name on your identification documents is different from the name you provided on your application, you need to submit a document that establishes your true full name. We’ll give you examples of documents you can use.
Documents you can use to prove your legal full name can include the following:
- A marriage certificate
- Adoption documents that contain the legal names as a result of the adoption
- A dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action
- A certificate, declaration, or registration document that verifies the formation of a domestic partnership
- A name change document that contains the legal name of both before and after the name change
Does the REAL ID Act Impact Residents of Tennessee?
The REAL ID Act of 2005 establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production. These standards provide an additional level of security to protect your identity. Starting May 7, 2025, you are required to have a REAL ID-compliant credential, passport, or another TSA-approved alternative form of identification to board commercial flights within the US, access federal buildings, or enter nuclear power plants.
Is Obtaining a REAL ID Mandatory in Tennessee?
Residents of Tennessee are NOT required to obtain a REAL ID-compliant license. Getting a REAL ID credential is up to you. Having a REAL ID is good to have if you travel frequently, but still not required.
If you travel a lot but don’t want a REAL ID, you will have to present your passport or other documents that prove your identity that are TSA-approved. A Tennessee REAL ID driver’s license or identification credential is not required for any other reason than to allow you to continue to fly domestically within the US and access certain federal facilities after May 7, 2025.
If you will not be boarding a domestic flight or visiting a secure federal facility or military base, you are NOT required to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card. You are NOT required to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card to perform any of the following actions:
- Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services
- Apply for or receive federal benefits (Social Security Administration (SSA), Veterans Affairs, etc.)
- Enter a federal facility that does NOT require ID (such as a post office)
How Do You Prepare to Apply for a REAL ID Card in Tennessee?
You must present the following documents when you’re applying for a REAL ID in Tennessee:
- Proof of US citizenship or legal presence
- Proof of your full Social Security number
- Two proofs of Tennessee residency
Be advised that you should also be prepared to provide documentation of any name changes that may have occurred, which may require you to present multiple documents.
All documents must be original or certified copies. No photocopies will be accepted.
These documents will be required even if you are already a Tennessee license or ID holder and are applying for a REAL ID-compliant credential for the first time or if you are a new Tennessee resident and were previously issued a REAL ID in a different state. You can view the complete list of document options to apply for a REAL ID-compliant credential here.
Applying for a Commercial Driver’s License in Tennessee
Have you been considering driving a semi-truck, bus, or another type of commercial vehicle? That’s great! To operate a commercial vehicle, you’ll need to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Obtaining a CDL involves a lot more than applying for a standard TN driver’s license since you will be allowed to operate bigger vehicles, which can be more difficult to drive than standard cars and trucks.
Nationally, the CDL process is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and in Tennessee, this process is overseen by the Department of Safety (DOS), specifically through the Driver Services Division.
Important Federal Training Requirements Update
Per the new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the TN DOS now mandates new CDL applicants complete an entry-level driver training course through an authorized provider. You must complete this training before applying for your initial commercial driver’s license, upgrading your existing CDL class, or applying for a HAZMAT, school bus, or passenger endorsement.
Who Can Get a Tennessee CDL?
To be eligible for a TN CDL, you will need a valid, non-CDL license and proof that you are a US citizen or a legal permanent resident. Drivers who are under 21 years of age will be restricted to driving within TN, per FMCSA regulations. You must be at least 25 years of age to earn a school bus endorsement.
Tennessee Commercial Learner’s Permit
To receive your TN CDL, you must first obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). Before applying, you should consider taking a CDL training course. Although this training course is NOT required by either the TN DOS or the FMCSA, it is recommended to help you prepare for the exams involved in this process.
When you’re ready, you can schedule an appointment with your local Driver’s Services Division branch and provide the following:
- The proper medical paperwork
- The appropriate fee for the type of permit you’re receiving
- Your valid driver’s license or a TN state ID
- 2 proofs of TN residency (Documents can NOT be photocopies) – you can provide 2 of the following accepted documents:
- Current utility bills
- Current vehicle registration or car titles
- Lease agreement/mortgage papers
- Proof of US citizenship/lawful permanent resident status – you can provide 1 of the following documents:
- A valid, non-expired US passport
- A certified birth certificate
- A certificate of naturalization
You may be required to submit a driving record check, where your record of driving in all 50 states and Washington DC is reviewed over the past 10 years.
You will also be required to take the written exams for the type of CDL you want. Once you pass the required exams, you will be issued your Tennessee commercial learner’s permit.
Be advised that the TN DOS will also accept proof of a relationship with a TN resident as proof of TN residency. Acceptable relationships include your:
For more information, you can check the TN DOS CDL page here.
Commercial Learner’s Permits in Tennessee
You must attain your CLP for a specific time before you will be eligible to take your road test to obtain your full Tennessee CDL. While federal laws mandate a holding period of at least 14 days, this could be different for residents of Tennessee. Check with your local Driver Services Division branch to confirm what the current holding period is.
The FMCSA also requires you to operate your commercial vehicle on public roads ONLY while you have your CLP, ONLY while accompanied by a full CDL holder.
Tennessee Commercial Driver’s Licenses
To upgrade your CLP to a CDL, you must wait the appropriate amount of time and take your skills test. In Tennessee, the DOS requires the skills testing to include the following:
- Pre-trip vehicle inspection
- Basic vehicle control
- On-road driving test
You must arrange to take your skills test with the same type of vehicle you intend on driving with your CDL. If you can’t, you may have a restriction placed on your CDL. You can schedule your test by calling the DOS at (615) 502-4179 any time between 8 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday – Friday. Once you pass your skills test and pay the appropriate fee, you will be issued your full TN CDL.
Tennessee Commercial Driver’s License Fees
The TN DOS currently charges the following fees for CDLs and services related to CDLs:
- Commercial learner’s permit (CLPs):
- Class A CLP: $14
- Class B or C CLP: $13
- Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs):
- Class A CDL: $70
- Class B or C CDL: $62
- Endorsements: $2.50 each
- Replacement CDLS:
- 1st replacement: $12
- 2nd or subsequent replacement: $16
The TN DOS accepts cash, check, money order, or credit card payments.
Tennessee CDL Military Waivers
Some service members in TN are eligible to have their CDL skills tests waived, through the TN program, Highways for Heroes. Click here for more information about the Highways for Heroes program.
To qualify, you must do/be the following:
- Be a TN resident
- Have or be eligible for a TN driver’s license
- Show proof of active duty in the military or discharge papers dated within 1 year of applying for the waiver
- Have your commanding officer certify that you:
- Possess a military operator’s permit
- Have at least 2 years of experience driving the same type of vehicle for the military that you’re applying to drive with your CDL
Applicants must also complete a CDL Skills Test Waiver (Form SF-1507). Qualifying service members will still be required to complete all written exams and pay all applicable fees.
CDL Skills Test Waiver Requirements
To qualify for the veteran skills test waiver, you must meet specific requirements that are outlined by the federal government. These requirements include:
- Military truck driving experience of at least 2 years
- The military motor vehicle must have been similar to a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)
- Application within 1 year of discharge
- Passing the written knowledge test
- Possession of only 1 driver’s license within the past 2 years (other than a military license) – your license cannot have been:
- No disqualifying CDL offenses on your driving record, such as the following:
- Alcohol or drugs
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Operating a vehicle with a suspended license
- Any fatalities caused by negligence
- No serious traffic violations, including but not limited to the following:
- Reckless driving
- Speeding a specified number of miles per hour above the speed limit (differs according to state laws)
- Operation of a CMV without a CDL
- Operation of a CMV without the correct endorsements
Medical Requirements for a Tennessee CDL
All Tennessee CDL applicants are required to:
- Have a valid, current Department of Transportation (DOT) medical card
- Self-certify with the DOS
To receive your DOT medical card, you must visit an FMCSA-approved physician and have them complete a Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876).
The DOT medical cards are valid for up to 24 months, and your card must remain up-to-date while you’re operating commercial motor vehicles. To self-certify, you must acquire and complete a TN self-certification Form (Form SF-1438). Click here for the list of instructions you must follow. You can also view the TN DOSs CDL medical requirements here.
Classes of Tennessee Commercial Driver’s Licenses
The FMCSA has established several different types of CDL, which allow you to drive different types of vehicles. The classifications include the following:
- Class A CDL – allows you to drive a combination of vehicles over a certain weight, such as a tractor-trailer
- Class B CDL – permits you to operate a single vehicle over a certain weight, like a box truck
- Class C CDL – applies to all other types of vehicles over a certain weight not covered by Class A or Class B CDLs
The written and skills tests you’re asked to complete may vary, depending on the class of CDL for which you’re applying. Different types of CDLs may also require different fees.
Tennessee CDL Endorsements & Restrictions
You can add endorsements to your CDL that make you eligible to operate different commercial motor vehicles. Obtaining an endorsement requires you to take additional written and/or skills tests and pay an extra fee from the DOS.
You can receive endorsements to drive the following:
- HAZMAT vehicles
- Tank vehicles
- Double or triple trailers
- School buses or other passenger vehicles (To drive a TN school bus, you must be at least 25 years old)
A restriction is the opposite of an endorsement and is placed on your CDL to limit the number of vehicles you will be permitted to operate. You may receive a restriction if any of the following apply:
- You take your skills test in the wrong type of vehicle
- You can’t operate an air brake system
- You can’t operate a manual transmission
Restrictions can typically be removed from your CDL with additional testing, paperwork, or fees.
Federal Self-Certification Requirements
You must self-certify the type of vehicle you’re operating with the TN DOS. You are required to self-certify one of the following driving categories:
- Non-excepted interstate
- Excepted interstate
- Non-excepted intrastate
- Excepted intrastate
Applying for a Tennessee Motorcycle License
Tennessee is one of the ideal places for a scenic motorcycle ride. If you want to enjoy the tall trees, lush leaves, and warm wind on your motorcycle, you’ll need a motorcycle license.
New Residents of Tennessee
As a new resident of Tennessee, if you currently have an out-of-state motorcycle license or endorsement, within 30 days of establishing residency, you must visit your local DOS full-service branch and:
- Surrender either your out-of-state motorcycle license or a certified copy of your driving record
- Submit documents proving the following:
- TN residency
- Lawful presence in the United States
- Social Security number
- Take a vision screening
- Pass the DOSs motorcycle written and road exams if your out-of-state license is expired for more than 6 months
Types of Tennessee Motorcycle Licenses
In Tennessee, you can apply for the following Class M motorcycle licenses:
- Motorcycle-only: a license that specifically allows you to operate any motorcycle with 2 or 3 wheels displacing 126cc or more.
- Motorcycle-secondary: motorcycle endorsement that is added to an existing license that allows you to operate a motorcycle PLUS the vehicle(s) that license is valid for. (for example, if you have a Class D license, applying for a motorcycle-secondary credential would give you a Class DM license that allows you to operate a standard passenger vehicle AND a motorcycle.)
How to Get a Motorcycle License in Tennessee
The requirements for obtaining a Tennessee motorcycle license are as follows:
- Be at least 15 years of age
- Complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation education course or pass the written knowledge exams for the following:
- Class M motorcycle license
- Class D standard license if you don’t already possess this license
- Pass the on-road motorcycle skills test
- Pay the necessary licensing fees and receive your TN motorcycle license
Applicants who are younger than 18 years old are required to meet the following additional requirements:
- Attain or apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit (Class PM)
- Requirement for applicants 15 years of age (when you turn 16 years of age, you can go to your local DOS full-service office and trade your restricted Class PM permit for an unrestricted Class M license.)
- Submit the appropriate documents that verify you’re enrolled in school
If you would like to simultaneously apply for a Class D permit or license, you will also need to provide a Certification of 50 Hours Behind the Wheel Driving Experience (Form SF-1256). This verifies that you’ve practiced driving a car for at least 50 hours under the supervision of a licensed adult.
Tennessee Motorcycle Learner’s Permits
For applicants who are 15 years old, you must first earn a motorcycle learner’s permit. To obtain your TN motorcycle learner’s permit, you can visit your local TN DOS full-service branch and:
- Submit proof of school attendance
- Provide proof of the following:
- Residency and legal presence
- Social security number
- Present a certificate of MSF course completion or pass the following tests:
- Written knowledge for Class D (if you don’t already have a standard permit or license) and motorcycle license.)
- Road skills test
- Pay the $6.50 motorcycle permit fee
The TN DOS will then issue your TN motorcycle learner’s permit, which is valid for 1 year.
After you turn 16 years of age, you can return to any DOS full-service branch and have your permit upgraded to an unrestricted Class M motorcycle license. Additional testing is not required.
Tennessee Motorcycle Permit Restrictions
While riding your motorcycle with a Class PM learner’s permit, there are specific restrictions you need to follow, in Tennessee, you’re prohibited from:
- Carrying passengers
- Using interstate highways
- Riding motorcycles:
- Displacing more than 650cc
- At night
- More than 20 miles away from your residence
Getting Your TN Motorcycle License
To receive your TN motorcycle license, you can visit any full-service DOS branch location and do the following:
- Submit proof of identity and TN residency
- Provide either your Motorcycle Safety Foundation course certificate of completion or written proof of passing the:
- Written knowledge test
- Road skills exam
- Pay the applicable motorcycle licensing fees (these fees vary based on the license type)
You will then receive your TN motorcycle license. A motorcycle-only Class M license will be valid for 8 years. A motorcycle-secondary license will expire when your Class A, B, C, or D license expires. If you’ve NEVER held a standard Class D license, you’ll also need to present proof that you’ve passed the written knowledge exam for a Class D license.
Motorcycle Education in TN
Although motorcycle education is NOT required, enrolling in a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course can make obtaining your TN motorcycle license easier.
If you complete an MSF course, the TN DOS will allow you to waive the motorcycle written and road exams. If you’re a first-time rider, taking the Basic Rider Course teaches you invaluable skills, such as the following:
- Sooth turning and braking
- Finding the safest path for riding
- Choosing protective riding gear
- Dealing with emergencies
You can learn more about the motorcycle safety courses that are available in Tennessee by viewing the TN DOSs guide to motorcycle rider education here.
Tennessee Motorcycle License Fees
The fees associated with obtaining your TN motorcycle license are as follows:
- Class PM motorcycle learner permit: $6.50
- Class M motorcycle license (motorcycle only): $29
- Class D with Class M motorcycle-secondary license: $55
Tennessee DOS Locations
Are you ready to get your Tennessee Driver’s license? There are different Department of Service locations throughout Tennessee. We’ll list a few to help you!
Covington DOS Driver License Station
220 Highway 51 N. Suite 1
Covington, TN 38019
Fax: (901) 475-2532
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)
Hart Lane DOS
624 Hart Lane
Nashville, TN 37216
Fax: (615) 532-9845
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)
Chattanooga DOS Driver License Station
6502 Bonny Oaks Drive
Chattanooga, TN 37416
Fax: (423) 892-8144
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)
Summer Ave. Driver Services
5266 Summer Ave.
Memphis, TN 38122
Fax: (901) 372-2076
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 5 PM)Saturday and Sunday (Closed)
Franklin DOS Driver License Station
3830 Carothers Parkway
Franklin, TN 37067
Fax: (615) 790-5976
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)
Congratulations! You just learned how to get your driver’s license in Tennessee.