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Tennessee License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in Tennessee

Tennessee License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in Tennessee
November 22, 2022

With over 5 million registered vehicles, the state of Tennessee is home to a large automobile market. Residents searching for pre-owned vehicles are spoilt for choice and can easily select any vehicle that matches their fancy. 

However, while it is generally cost-effective to buy second-hand vehicles, there are certain dangers you must work towards averting. 


This is because most car dealers are generally reluctant to disclose every detail relating to the vehicle’s past. 

Therefore, you need to carry out a cursory look into the history of the vehicle you wish to purchase. 


There is no better way to do this than conducting a license plate lookup. 


A license plate lookup is invaluable for searching for the best-used vehicles near you. It saves you energy and time and provides you with every available public data on the vehicle. 

In this guide, we shall be discussing everything you need to know about conducting a license plate lookup in Tennessee.

What are Tennessee License Plates?

Before proceeding any further in our conversation, it is important to explain Tennessee license plates in great detail. Tennessee license plates are made with aluminum and contain alphanumeric characters used in identifying the vehicle. 

Presently, Tennessee license plates contain a maximum of seven characters in the following sequence; a letter first, followed by two figures and a hyphen. The hyphen is similar to the state’s form. 


After that, there are two figures, with a letter coming last. 

Tennessee license plates bear various slogans, such as “The Volunteer State” and “The Volunteer State in God We Trust.” 

a blank license plate on a car


According to the state’s Motor Vehicle Titling and Registration Law, license plates are the absolute property of vehicle owners and cannot be transferred to any person. 

Therefore, if an owner sells their car, they can still retain the license plate; however, the plate can be transferred to another vehicle at a $1 charge. 


Tennessee is one of the “Rugged Nineteen” states that only require one license plate at the rear side of the vehicle. 

The only exceptions are truck tractors and trucks weighing over 1,500 pounds; these vehicles must display one license plate on the front side. 


The plate must be visible at all times and must be 12 inches above the ground. 

The Vehicle Service Division of the Tennessee Department of Revenue manages the administration of license plates in the state. 


However, you can still contact your county clerk’s office for registration and issuance of license plates. 

Tennessee issues new license plates once in ten years; the last update was in 2011. The state issues four major types of license plates, namely:

1. Specialty license plates: Tennessee has over 100 types of specialty license plates, bearing a maximum of 7 characters and extra costs. Common examples include:

* Military license plates
* Sports license plates
* Duck Unlimited
* Collegiate or university license plates
* Eagle Foundation license plates

2. Regular or standard license plates: These plates are issued by default by the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

3. Personalized license plates: You can personalize your specialty and regular license plates at an additional $35 charge. You must, however, fulfill the following requirements:

* The plates must be between three to five alphanumeric characters.
* You will be given three personalization options and issued with the first available option.
* The plates must not contain any special characters.

4. Disabled driver license plate: These are issued to persons with temporary or permanent disabilities. Such persons are allowed to park their vehicles in special parking spots using their license plates. The following class of persons can apply for a disability license plate:

* Persons with walking difficulty 
* Individuals with 20/200 vision or worse
* Persons confined to wheelchairs
* Individuals who are guardians or parents of persons with disability

How to Conduct a License Plate Lookup in Tennessee 

License plate lookup is a process that involves inputting a car’s license plate number into a search tool to retrieve information about the car. 


It is generally conducted while buying a second-hand vehicle and provides valuable insights into a vehicle’s history. 

Some details retrieved from Tennessee license plate lookup include odometer and mileage readings, accident history, title information, safety records, vehicle specifications, make, and mode. 

Notably, Certain details are not disclosed during a Tennessee license plate lookup. This is in line with the provisions of the Tennessee Uniform Motor Vehicle Records Disclosure Act. 

a man attaching an empty license plate on a vehicle


The act prohibits the release of sensitive personal details unless permitted by law. Such information includes the driver’s social security number, medical information, contact details, photograph, etc. 

Interested parties can conduct a license plate lookup at the Tennessee Vehicle Service Division. 


The agency maintains a data system that offers vehicle record search services. The agency’s services are subscription-based, and you must fill out and return the Vehicle Information Request form. 

You must also provide the vehicle’s license plate number and other identifying information. Every search costs $2, and other additional charges include: 

* Current vehicle records: $5 for each record
* Computer printout of vehicle record: $1 per record
* Complete vehicle history: $15
* Certified copy of a computer printout: $1.50

Persons other than the vehicle owner applying for a license plate search must state reasons for their search, offer proof of identity, and pay the specified charge. 


There are also third-party websites offering Tennessee license plate lookup for a fee or free of charge. 

These platforms collate data from government-based agencies and are more straightforward to use than most government sites. 


You only need to provide the license plate number and pay the required fee (where applicable). 

car-shaped keychain and car keys hovering over a man's hand


Tennessee license plates contain valuable information about a vehicle’s history. 


Residents of the Volunteer State can obtain critical insights into a vehicle’s past using the license plate search tool. 


You can use any of the techniques discussed above to conduct license plate lookups in Tennessee.

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