You need three things to drive legally as a Nashville resident.
“Each person drives 36 miles a day—near the top for most miles driven.” So reads the sign at the Metro motor vehicle testing center. Until we implement workable mass transit, we drive. Let’s get you motoring with a driver’s license and proper auto tags to drive legally.
#1 As a resident, you are required by law to obtain a Tennessee driver’s license. You’ll need:
Two proofs of identity:
- Primary: current driver’s license, active passport, original birth certificate or military ID are among the most common. Others: marriage licenses or your child’s birth certificate.
- Secondary: computerized check stubs, work IDs containing a photo or SS#, original Social Security documents, health insurance card, school or military records.
Two proofs of TN residency:
- Documents must include your name and residence address (no P.O. boxes).
- Documents can include items mentioned above if they contain both pieces of information. Also valid: utility bills, voter registration, student ID (if residing on a college campus), bank statement and other legal documents generated within the past four months.
For more info, contact the Driver Services website of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. go to the source.
Note: Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cellphone while operating a moving vehicle.
#2 For vehicle registration in Davidson County, you need:
- Copy of your vehicle title and registration to verify ownership
- Mail or other documentation of your living address (not a P.O. box)
- Copy of your driver’s license or other acceptable I.D.
- Certificate stating that you have passed the emissions test (current cost: $9.00)
The law requires that you get a TN plate within 30 days of establishing your permanent residence here. Processing fee is currently $95 which includes a Metro registration sticker. If you’re just transferring plates and title within the state, the fee is $14.50. For extra bucks, you can choose one of dozens of specialty plates and/or request a personalized plate.
For more info, contact the office of the County Clerk.
Fun fact: taxes are a little to a lot cheaper in surrounding counties. Contact your county’s clerk for details.
#3 Everyone is required to carry liability insurance.
It’s a state requirement to cover injuries or damages you may cause to another individual, vehicle or property. You don’t have to have proof of insurance to register a vehicle or get a driver’s license. Minimum coverage:
- $25,000 for each injury or death per accident
- $50,000 for total injuries or death per accident
- $15,000 for property damage per accident
Other forms you might choose to purchase: collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorists, medical payments and rental cars.
For years, Michael Davis Agency of State Farm Insurance has handled our auto and homeowners policies. Very on-the-ball and personable agency. The office is near Centennial Park but he’d welcome your business wherever you live. Call his people at 615-321-3388 and tell them you read about them here. Maybe he’ll buy me lunch.
Hands Free Tennessee
Please be aware than it is illegal to use a handheld phone while operating a vehicle. No texting, punching phone numbers, scrolling your contacts or searching the Internet–anything that requires your hand. Voice-activated use is legal. Fines can go as high as $200 so beware.
Get your driver’s license, vehicle registration and liability insurance and you’re ready to hit the road. Where are you going? Do you know how to navigate Nashville? Here’s help.
- An overview of key roadways in the greater Nashville/Davidson County area
- An overview of the (questionable) logic behind the street system in the central city
- Consider these options for getting around Nashville