Temporary Vehicle Tags

Driving a vehicle without proper registration is illegal, and new car buyers or those transferring their vehicles to Tennessee often find themselves in a bind. 

In Tennessee, you can get a temporary tag, also known as a drive-out tag, to give you the legal cushion you need to drive your vehicle while waiting for permanent tags. 

This article will explore the state’s various facets of temporary tags, including how to get a temporary tag online.

What are Temporary Tags?

Temporary tags are provisional permits that allow you to legally operate a vehicle in Tennessee for a short period, usually 30 days, without having permanent license plates. These drive-out tags are often used when you’ve purchased a vehicle but have yet to receive your official license plates

These tags are commonly used by new car buyers or those who have moved to Tennessee and are getting their vehicles registered in the state.

How to Get Temporary Tags?

There are several methods to get your temporary tag, and understanding your options can save you time and effort. Whether it’s going to an in-person location or opting for a temporary tag online, each comes with its own set of requirements.

In-person Application for Temporary Tags

  • Visit your local County Clerk’s office: You must go to your nearest County Clerk’s office to apply for a temporary tag.
  • Submit Required Documents: Usually, you will need proof of identification, proof of purchase, and any other documentation that verifies you’re the vehicle owner.
  • Pay the Fee: A nominal fee is associated with getting a temporary tag. This fee can vary from county to county.

Applying for a Temporary Tag Online

  • Find a Certified Online Service: Some certified websites offer the service of providing a temporary tag online. Ensure the service is certified by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Submit the Necessary Documentation: You must upload digital copies of your identification and other required documents.
  • Pay the Online Fee: Like the in-person application, there is a fee associated with online applications, payable via credit/debit card.

When to Use Drive-Out Tags

Drive-out tags come in handy in various situations. For instance, they’re beneficial when you purchase a vehicle from a private seller and need to drive it home before getting permanent tags. They also serve those changing their vehicle registration to Tennessee from another state.

Limitations of Temporary Tags

While the temporary tag provides a lot of conveniences, it’s essential to remember that it comes with limitations:

  • Validity: These tags are usually valid for 30 days, after which you’ll need your permanent tags.
  • No Extensions: Extensions are typically not granted for temporary tags, so it’s crucial to complete your vehicle’s permanent registration within this period.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions to provide further clarity on the subject:

How long is a temporary tag in Tennessee?

A temporary tag, often called a “drive-out tag,” is generally valid for 30 days. This is designed to provide you with enough time to complete all the necessary paperwork for your permanent registration and license plate.

How long can you go without tags in Tennessee?

Driving without a valid tag is illegal and can result in significant fines or even impoundment of your vehicle. 


Temporary tags, also known as drive-out tags, offer a convenient and legal way to use your newly purchased or transferred vehicle for a short term until you get your permanent tags. 

Whether you get your temporary tag in person or opt for a temporary tag online, understanding the process, limitations, and fees involved can save you time and potential legal issues. Always follow the state guidelines and renew your tags within the stipulated time frame to enjoy hassle-free driving in Tennessee.