In Tennessee, you are required to have specific documentation and payment(s) to successfully complete a vehicle title transfer.

In order to transfer the title of a vehicle in the Volunteer State, you must:

  • Obtain a properly assigned vehicle title and odometer disclosure from the previous vehicle owner
  • Take the paperwork to your local Tennessee Department of Revenue (TN DOR)
  • Provide valid proof of ID and residency
  • Pay all applicable fees and sales taxes

Be advised you may be required to submit additional documents and payments at the time of the vehicle title transfer.

Smog Certification/Vehicle Inspection

Residents in the State of Tennessee residing in a county with mandatory testing must get their vehicles to pass a vehicle emissions test before being able to obtain a Tennessee vehicle registration or registration renewal. New Tennessee residents that move to qualified counties have similar requirements.

Tennessee Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

Gas and diesel vehicles that exceed a weight limit of 10,500 lbs and made in 1975 or newer are required to get a Tennessee smog check if the vehicle owner registered the vehicle in one of the following counties:

  • Hamilton
  • Rutherford
  • Sumner
  • Williamson
  • Wilson

Also, the vehicles listed below are not exempt from passing a Tennessee smog check:

  • Salvaged vehicles
  • Homemade vehicles
  • Hybrid vehicles
  • Rebuilt vehicles

Double-check this list to ensure you adhere to the TN guidelines for smog checks.

Smog Check Exemptions in Tennessee

In the state of Tennessee, the following vehicles are exempt from smog check requirements:

  • Motorcycles
  • New motor vehicles getting their first registration
  • Vehicles that exceed 10,500 lbs
  • Electric vehicles that do not exceed 8500 lbs (this does not include hybrids)
  • Vehicles that are temporarily out of state
  • Vehicles with antique registrations
  • Gasoline vehicles that do not exceed 8500 lbs made before the 1975 model year

Vehicle owners who are out of state or out of the testing area during the time period for which they must get their vehicle tested for a registration renewal can apply for an exemption.

To do so, you must fill out and mail a Tennessee Application for Vehicle Exemption (Form CN-1026) Mail the form to the address listed on the form.

If you require more information, call (615) 532-8378 or toll-free 1-866-329-9632 to find out about waiver application requirements. Vehicle owners out of state when their smog check is due must get their vehicle checks once they return to Tennessee.

How to Transfer Your Vehicle Title in Tennessee?

Whether you decide to purchase or sell a vehicle in Tennessee, you need to transfer the title of the vehicle to transfer the vehicle’s ownership.

Transferring a Vehicle’s Title As a New Resident of Tennessee

As a new resident of Tennessee, you must title and register your vehicle with the TN DVS. You can title and register your vehicle by visiting your local TN county clerk’s office. If you reside in a TN county that requires emissions testing, you are required to complete the emission test before you can transfer the title of the vehicle.

When you apply for a vehicle title transfer and vehicle registration in Tennessee, you need to bring the following to your local TN county clerk’s office:

  • The current out-of-state vehicle registration
  • The current out-of-state vehicle title certificate (If you are making payments on your vehicle, and have a lien hold, you are required to provide the lender’s name and address)
  • Valid emissions test certificate (if possible)
  • Proof of TN residency and identification
  • Payment for the vehicle title transfer fee (these fees vary by county)

Transferring the Title of a Vehicle Purchased From a Private Seller

If you purchased a vehicle from a private selling in TN, there are different documents you are responsible for submitting to your local TN county clerk. These requirement documents include:

  • The properly assigned title certificate
  • Odometer disclosure statement (Form RV-F1317001)
  • A copy of your current vehicle registration (if you are transferring your current license plates to your new vehicle
  • A completed Affidavit of Non-Dealer Transfers of Motor Vehicles and Boats (Form RV-F1301201)
  • Proof of a passed emissions test, if applicable (if the vehicle registration is up for renewal, and you reside in a county that requires emissions testing, you or the vehicle’s seller will need to have the vehicle tested prior to the change of ownership)
  • Acceptable proof of TN residency and identity
  • Payment for all applicable vehicle title transfer fees (varies according to the county)

Transferring the Title of a Vehicle Purchased From a Dealership

When you purchase a vehicle from a dealer in TN, you are required to submit different documents.

When you purchase a new vehicle in Tennessee, you are required to submit the following to your local TN county clerk office, in order to title and register it:

  • Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin.
  • Your new car’s invoice.
  • Copy of your current registration (if you are transferring license plates from your previous car).
  • Valid proof of identification
  • Proof of TN residency
  • Payment for the TN vehicle title fees (vary by county).

Transferring the Title of a Vehicle You’re Selling in Tennessee

If you’re selling a vehicle in TN, you are required to provide the vehicle’s buyer with specific documentation. The buyer of the vehicle needs to have:

  • The TN vehicle title certificate, with the vehicle title assignment completed and signed by you (the seller of the vehicle)
  • A completed Odometer Disclosure Statement (Form RV-F1317001)
  • A completed Affidavit of Non-Dealer Transfers of Motor Vehicles and Boats (Form RV-F1301201) This form is for tax-exempted vehicle title transfers

Be advised, the buyer of the vehicle is responsible for completing the remaining steps in the TN vehicle title transfer process.

If you live in a TN county where emissions testing is required, and the vehicle’s registration is up for renewal, it’s a good idea to have your vehicle inspected. Give the vehicle inspection paperwork to the vehicle’s buyer, or inform the buyer they will have to have a smog check performed on the vehicle.

How to Transfer a Vehicle Title When the Owner is Deceased?

If you are the beneficiary, and you want to sell the vehicle to someone, keep the vehicle, or gift it to a family member, you need to transfer ownership of the vehicle. However, you can’t hand over the keys to the vehicle. You are required to transfer the title of the vehicle.

As the surviving spouse, beneficiary, or joint-owner, you have the legal authority to transfer the vehicle’s title to another person when the vehicle’s owner passes away. You need to know whether the vehicle is part of a probated estate.

Transferring the Title of a Vehicle in Probate

When a vehicle owner has passed away, the process for transferring the car title of the deceased person will vary depending on whether the vehicle title was in the individual’s name as a decedent or whether it was in joint ownership. If the vehicle title was solely in the decedent’s name, you’ll need to determine if the estate is being probated.

Probate is a legal process that involves administering the estate of the individual who has passed away. The probate process happens when there is no living spouse or beneficiary listed on the will. Probate proves that the last will and testament are legitimate and validates the individual’s assets and property. Then, the Probate Court determines how to proceed with the person’s belongings. During this process, the deceased individual’s property will be distributed based on their will.

If the vehicle is part of a probated estate, follow these steps to transfer the car title of a deceased person:

Contact Probate Court and Attorney

A car title cannot be transferred until the probate is completed, so the executor or administrator of the deceased should contact the Probate Court or an attorney as soon as possible to receive further instruction. Depending on the situation and the circumstances, getting the title transferred can be a complicated process. Because every situation is different, it helps to have someone who understands the legal process working in your favor. Once the probate is completed, the heir will receive the vehicle, or the executor can choose to sell it if he or she was the one given the vehicle.

Gather the Required Documentation

While the required documents vary slightly from one state to another, you need to have all the following in order to transfer the title in Tennessee:

  • Order from Probate Court to transfer the vehicle
  • Certificate of the title
  • Odometer disclosure statement
  • Death certificate
  • Transfer fee

Visit the Title Office

If you are the beneficiary of the vehicle or the administrator of the deceased individual’s estate, you can visit your local title office with the above-listed documents to initiate the title transfer process.

How to Transfer a Car Title Without Probate

The process of transferring the title of a vehicle without probate varies depending on what state in which you reside. In Tennessee, the deceased individual’s property can’t exceed a certain amount and a certain amount of time needs to have passed since the person has passed away before the transfer of the title can be initiated.

As the administrator, joint-owner, spouse, or beneficiary, you may only be required to take the death certificate and the vehicle title to your local title office, and they will retitle it. Court orders and attorneys are not required.

Transferring the Title of an Inherited Vehicle in Tennessee

If you inherited a vehicle, the process for a vehicle title transfer in this scenario will vary depending on how the estate was distributed.

If applicable, the existing title must be signed by:

  • The executor is designated by the previous owner, OR a court-appointed administrator.

You will need to submit the following documentation:

  • The title certificate.
  • If there was a will, either:
  • The probated will, OR letter(s) of testamentary certifying an executor or appointee.

If there was no will, you need:

You can contact your local TN county clerk’s office for more information regarding how to complete a TN DOR vehicle title transfer of an inherited vehicle.

How to Transfer Ownership of a Vehicle Without a Title in Tennessee?

In the state of Tennessee, you are not allowed to transfer ownership of a vehicle without a vehicle title. If you have lost or damaged the vehicle’s title, you are required to apply for a duplicate TN vehicle title (Form RV-F131520).

Can I Gift a Car to a Family Member?

The good news is, you are able to gift a vehicle to a relative as long as you have the necessary documentation. If you received a vehicle as a gift, or the vehicle is being transferred to you from a family member, you are required to complete a vehicle title transfer at your local TN DVS office. The process for transferring the vehicle title of a gifted vehicle is similar to the steps you need to take when you are buying or selling a vehicle in the state of Tennessee.

In the “price” section of the vehicle’s title, write “0”. The individual receiving the vehicle may be exempt from paying taxes on the vehicle. Just as you would with a private vehicle sale, you are required to complete the transfer of ownership sections on the back of the original vehicle title.

Although the vehicle is being gifted to a family member, they may owe tax on the current market value of the vehicle when they register the vehicle. You need to take the signed original vehicle title to your local Tennessee city clerk and have the application for a new vehicle title completed.

Transferring a Vehicle Title When You Have an Out-of-State Title

When you are transferring the title of an out-of-state vehicle in Tennessee, you need to meet a variety of requirements. The following out-of-state vehicle title transfer paperwork is required to correctly transfer the title from one state to Tennessee:

  • The original out-of-state vehicle title
  • A completed application for a certificate of ownership
  • A completed Tennessee vehicle registration application
  • Proof of a valid TN vehicle insurance policy
  • Proof of identification (ex. A valid driver’s license)

If a lien holder obtains your vehicle title, you need to fill out an application for the release of the title, which will be sent to the DMV. Keep in mind, you may be required to submit additional information.

Requesting a Duplicate Vehicle Title in Tennessee

If you have lost your vehicle’s title, it is damaged or has been stolen, you need to apply for a duplicate vehicle title.

You can apply for a TN duplicate vehicle title by applying in person or mailing it. If you’re applying in person, take the following to your local TN county clerk office:

  • Duplicate Vehicle Title Application (Form RV-F131520)
  • Proof of a lien release (if applicable) If there is still a lien on the vehicle title, the lender is required to apply for the duplicate vehicle title
  • Proof of identification (if you are applying in person)
  • Payment for the duplicate vehicle title: $11

If you are mailing the duplicate vehicle title application, mail it to the following address:

Davidson County Clerk, Attn: Duplicate Titles
700 Second Avenue South, Suite 101
Nashville, TN 37210

Transferring a Vehicle Title With a Lien

Yay! You finished paying off your vehicle loan. After you finish paying the vehicle’s loan, the lender is required to release the lien on the vehicle.

The lender can release the vehicle lien by submitting one of the following documents to the TN DVS:

  • A copy of the vehicle title certificate showing the date of the lien release and signature of the lender
  • The tear-away portion of the vehicle title form with the date of release and signature
  • A completed Notice of Discharge of Lien (Form RV-F1310901)

How Much Does a Title Transfer Cost in Tennessee?

In the state of Tennessee, additional vehicle title transfer fees will vary depending on the county in which you live.

The standard vehicle titling fees in TN are as follows:

  • Title fee: $11.
  • Title transfer fee: $1.
  • License plate fee: $26.50 (standard license plate).

You can also prepare to pay a local tax of from 1.50% to 2.75% and 7% state sales or use tax when titling and registering your vehicle.

Where Can I Go to Transfer a Vehicle Title in South Dakota?

There are different DOR locations in Tennessee where you can transfer a vehicle’s title.

Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles – Greenville Office
1210 Hal Henard Rd
Greenville, TN 37743
(423) 638-3285

Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles – Morristown Office
1551 E Morris Blvd Ste 2
Morristown, TN 37813
(423) 587-7044

Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles – Knoxville Office
3010 South Mall Rd
Knoxville, TN 37924
(865) 215- 2385

Monday – Friday (9 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

How to Fill Out the South Dakota Title and Title Transfer Forms

In order to ensure you complete the Tennessee vehicle title and title transfer forms, you need to make sure you have the required signatures of the vehicle’s seller and buyer in the provided areas on the vehicle title. Make sure you create a bill of sale that provides information about the vehicle, such as its make, year, model, color, and vehicle’s VIN.

If you sold a vehicle and didn’t gift it, you need to add sales tax to the vehicle’s total price. In the “transfer of title by seller” section of the vehicle title, provide an odometer reading, and make sure the recipient of the vehicle signs the vehicle’s title in the provided spaces. The odometer reading can be estimated.

Be advised, you may be required to provide additional documents and payments, including a valid Tennessee vehicle insurance policy that meets or exceeds the state’s minimum coverage limits. You may also be required to provide a valid government-issued photo ID or a foreign passport as proof of identification.

My Vehicle Title Was Signed But Never Transferred. What Do I Do?

When a vehicle has a signed title, but the title is not transferred, the vehicle has an open title. Also, with an open vehicle title, this means the vehicle’s seller didn’t transfer ownership of or register the vehicle in their name.

Since the vehicle is not in the seller’s name, the seller does not assume any legal responsibility for anything associated with the vehicle, including taxes and other fees.

If the vehicle’s seller has lost the title, they can apply for a duplicate TN vehicle title (Form RV-F131520) and sign it over to you for you to put in your name. Keep in mind, the person who is listed on the vehicle’s title is responsible for requesting a duplicate vehicle title.

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