How to Get Temp Tags for a Car in Tennessee

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Temporary license plate tags, made of paper or plastic, are placed on vehicles until obtaining a permanent license plate. The most frequent reason for a temporary tag is purchasing a vehicle, but there are other reasons as well. Tennessee requires emissions testing, so if the vehicle fails to meet standards, the registration is not renewed until it passes. In these cases, a temporary operating tag is issued. Another reason for a temporary tag is when there is dispute over the vehicle's title.

Locate the county clerk's office for the county where you reside and go down to the office in person. If your county clerk's office does not issue temporary permits, go to the nearest regional Department of Revenue office and visit the Taxpayer and Vehicle Services Division.

Read More: How to Get a 30-Day Tag

Present the clerk with your drivers license or other photo I.D., and the title or sales receipt for the vehicle. If the car has failed emissions testing, you must also present the failure certificate and any repair receipts. If the title is in dispute, present something that shows it is being cleared up, such as a notarized letter from the original owner or lien holder.

Pay the temporary tag processing fee, which as of 2010 is $10. The temporary tag will be issued to you immediately unless there is another legal problem that must be cleared up.


  • You can get up to two temporary tags for failing emissions testing, after which you will not be able to drive the vehicle until repairs are complete and testing is passed.

    Temporary tags are valid for 30 days.