How to Transfer a Vehicle Title in Tennessee?

Transferring a vehicle title in Tennessee is a straightforward process, but it requires specific steps and paperwork to ensure everything is legal and above board. Whether buying, selling, gifting, or inheriting a vehicle, the Tennessee Department of Revenue has regulations and forms you must adhere to. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about title transfer, car title transfer forms, and even how to transfer a car title to a family member.

Basic Requirements for Car Title Transfer

Before delving into the various scenarios where a title transfer is needed, let’s first look at the basic requirements for any title transfer.


  • Title Transfer Form: The Title Transfer Form is crucial for any transaction. This form is available at the Local County Clerk’s Office and online.
  • Identification: Proper identification, generally a driver’s license, is also required.
  • Bill of Sale: Though not mandatory, it’s highly recommended for private sales.
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement: This is crucial if the vehicle is less than ten years old.
  • Lien Release: If the vehicle was financed, a lien release document is required.


The title transfer fee in Tennessee can vary, but it’s typically around $11. Additionally, other fees, like the road tax, may depend on your residence county.

Transferring Title After Buying or Selling

You will need to do different things depending on buying or selling.

For the Buyer

  • Complete the Title Transfer Form with the seller.
  • Obtain a lien release from the seller if applicable.
  • Pay the title transfer fee and any other fees or taxes applicable.
  • Submit the completed form and supporting documents to the local county clerk.

For the Seller

  • Provide a signed copy of the vehicle title and sign the Title Transfer Form.
  • Provide a lien release if applicable.
  • Report the sale to the Tennessee Department of Revenue within a specific time frame, usually 30 days.

Gifting or Inheriting a Vehicle: How to Transfer a Car Title to a Family Member

When a vehicle is being transferred without a sale (like gifting to a family member), the process remains almost the same, with a few differences.

  1. The Title Transfer Form still needs to be completed.
  2. A lien release must be provided if applicable.
  3. The recipient will still need to pay the title transfer fee, but the sales tax may be exempted or reduced if the vehicle is a gift.
  4. Documents should be submitted to the local county clerk’s office, as with any other title transfer.

What If You’re Coming from Another State?

If you’re relocating to Tennessee from another state, there are specific procedures and requirements you’ll need to follow to transfer your vehicle title successfully.

Out-of-State Residents

  1. Obtain a vehicle inspection to meet Tennessee emissions standards.
  2. Complete the Title Transfer Form.
  3. Submit your out-of-state title.
  4. Pay the applicable title transfer fee and any other taxes or fees required.

Tennessee Residents with an Out-of-State Title

  1. If you are a resident with an out-of-state title, an inspection is still required for emission standards.
  2. The Title Transfer Form needs to be completed.
  3. Your out-of-state title and a lien release are required.
  4. Pay the title transfer fee and any other applicable taxes or fees.
  5. Submit these to your local county clerk’s office.

There’s quite a bit to know and do when transferring a vehicle title, whether you’re buying, selling, or gifting. Understanding the process and what’s required can help ensure everything goes smoothly. With this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to handle any title transfer.

Transferring Titles for Special Vehicles

You may not be transferring the title of a standard car or truck but instead a special vehicle like a motorcycle. The motorcycle registration and title transfer process is almost identical to standard vehicles. 

The same Title Transfer Form needs to be filled out, and the fees are similar. Like with cars, if you have an out-of-state title for your motorcycle, you’ll need to submit it along with the form and fees to your local County Clerk’s Office.

Fees and Taxes: What to Expect

The costs associated with transferring a car title can be complex. As mentioned, the standard title transfer fee is around $11. However, this does not include any additional costs, such as local county fees, which vary. 

Also, you should remember that sales tax will apply if you’ve purchased the vehicle. If the car is a gift, however, you might be eligible for a sales tax exemption, but you’ll need to provide proper documentation to prove the vehicle’s status as a gift.

Troubles and Troubleshooting: Lost Titles and More

What if you’ve lost your title? It’s a common problem that comes with a straightforward solution. You can apply for a replacement title through your local county clerk’s office. In this case, you must fill out a different form for a replacement title. 

You will also be asked to show identification and may need to provide a police report if the title was stolen. The replacement title is generally processed and mailed to you within a few days to a week.

The Importance of Accurate Documentation

One aspect that can’t be stressed is the importance of accurate and complete documentation. If there are any discrepancies in the odometer disclosure statement, bill of sale, or any other required documents, it could delay the title transfer process significantly. Ensure that all parties involved in the transfer double-check the information. 

For example, the Tennessee Department of Revenue is very strict about the details on the odometer disclosure statement if the vehicle is less than ten years old.

Working with a Lienholder

Additional steps must be taken if there is a lien on the vehicle. The lienholder must be contacted, and a lien release must be obtained before the title transfer. Once the lien is released, the lienholder usually sends a release form, which you then take to your local county clerk’s office. The title will be transferred to you after the lien release has been confirmed.

Transferring a vehicle title comes with its challenges and requirements, but understanding the process can help make things go smoothly. Whether you’re selling, buying, gifting, or inheriting a vehicle, following the steps and paying close attention to details can save you both time and potential legal troubles. 

When in doubt, consult the Tennessee Department of Revenue’s Vehicle Services Division or your local county clerk’s office for the most accurate and personalized guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand you may have several questions about transferring a car title to Tennessee. We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

How much does it cost to transfer a car title?

The standard fee for transferring a car title in Tennessee is around $11. However, it’s important to note that this does not include any additional local county fees, which can vary. Also, if the vehicle is purchased, sales tax will apply, and if you’re registering a new vehicle, there could be additional registration fees as well. Therefore, while the base cost might seem low, be prepared for other associated costs.

How long does it take to transfer a vehicle title in Tennessee?

The time it takes to transfer a vehicle title can vary based on several factors, including the documentation’s accuracy and the application method. However, completing the entire process generally takes about a week if all documents are in order.

Can I transfer a car title online?

As of last update in September 2021, Tennessee only offers a partial service of transferring a vehicle title online. Most transactions related to title transfers must be completed in person at your local county clerk’s office.