How to Get a Temporary License Plate in Tennessee

To legally obtain a temporary license plate in Tennessee, you must get one from a licensed dealer.
Written by Kate Kirby
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
background
Illegitimate temporary license plate tags are a huge issue in
Tennessee
, but obtaining a temporary Tennessee license plate through the dealer that you bought the vehicle from is a good way to ensure that it is legal. 
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Does Tennessee issue temporary plates?

Yes—the Tennessee Department of Revenue will issue temporary operation plates, also known as Dealer Drive-Out Tags (Green Tags), for drivers of automobiles and motorcycles. Green tags cost $5.50 each. For trailers, you can purchase a five-day Trailer Temporary Plate (Yellow Tags) for $9 per tag.
If you are experiencing issues with your vehicle’s title, you can apply for a Temporary Operation Permit (Red Tags) at your
local county clerk
for a $10 fee.    
Temporary tags can only be purchased through licensed dealers. The dealership will use the
Temporary Plate Application Form
to apply for tags while registration plates are ordered. 

What’s the problem with temporary Tennessee license plates? 

Unfortunately, fake temporary tags are a common problem in Tennessee and there is a huge market for them. Many people have been caught selling them on places like Facebook Marketplace. 
Criminals have been using fake tags to avoid taxes and vehicle registration fees, but being caught comes with a big penalty. Altering tags or titles could land you a felony charge along with some large fines. 
The Tennessee Department of Revenue is working to stop people from producing and selling fake tags online, but no other additional security measures have been implemented. Other states have added more restrictions and guidelines to the process of issuing temporary tags and hopefully, Tennessee will soon follow. 

How to get a temporary license plate in Tennessee

If you need a temporary license plate in Tennessee, it’s possible to get one without violating the law. Just make sure that you get it through a licensed dealer and you should be in the clear. 
You will only be able to purchase a temporary tag through the dealer that you bought your vehicle from. Avoid any ads online stating that you can get a temporary license plate from them as they are most likely fraudulent. 

Temporary registration permits in Tennessee

There are certain restrictions on obtaining a temporary tag in Tennessee. The most common reasons that drivers need a temporary tag are: 
  • You purchased a vehicle and have to wait for the registration plates to come in 
  • Your vehicle didn't pass emissions testing 
  • Your vehicle’s title is in dispute 
The dealer that issues the temporary tags is responsible for ensuring that you are eligible to receive them. All temporary tags are valid for 30 days from the date they were issued. Once that period ends, you will need to get another temporary tag or have the regular license plate—otherwise, you will not be allowed to legally drive the vehicle. 

Can I drive a car without plates if I just bought it in Tennessee? 

You need to have a temporary operation permit in order to drive a vehicle without plates that you just bought in Tennessee. Submit your application to the
local county clerk
and pay the $10 fee. 
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