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Getting A TN Driver's License

Tennessee driver's license requirements are different for international persons than they are for US residents.  OIS has worked, and continues to work, with the Tennessee Department of Safety to ensure our international employees, students and scholars provide all of the proper documents needed to obtain or renew a Tennessee driver's license.

In November 2010, Tennessee Driver Services began using the SAVE interagency federal database to check the immigration status of all international persons who apply for a driver's license. Due to this additional check, it will take up to 35 days for a driver's license to be issued. Please bear this in mind when you make arrangements to renew or obtain a Tennessee driver's license. It is best to begin the process as soon as you receive a license renewal notification letter from TN Dept. of Safety.  These letters arrive at least 60 days before your license is to expire.  If you don't receive a letter, make a note to renew your license at least 35 - 40 days before it expires.

In addition, it has been clarified that an SSN is not needed for Tennessee Driver's License . Persons without a SSN can now complete an SSN Affidavit in lieu of providing an SSN. Table 2, below, has a direct link to the SSN Affidavit.

Following is a list of documents that are required for international individuals to obtain a driver’s license in Tennessee.  Please note that only original documents will be accepted; no faxed or photocopies of documents are acceptable.

  • PROOF OF LEGAL PRESENCE IN THE U.S. (e.g. Conditional or Permanent Resident Alien Card (I-551); Employment Authorization Document (EAD); Valid foreign passport with US visa; valid I-94 card; and valid I-797 approval notice; and valid I-797 receipt notice for pending filings.   Only original documents are acceptable.)
  • PROOF OF ANY NAME CHANGES IF DIFFERENT THAN PRIMARY ID  (Certified marriage certificate, Divorce decree, Certified court order of name change)
  • SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (Social Security Card; Pay stub with SS# AND Name, IRS forms, etc.)

Any original, new or returning residents who need to obtain a license in Tennessee must show at least two documents from List A or one document from List A and another from List B.

Below you will find the three tables that have been referenced above. Table 1 lists the Primary Identification Documents. The Department of Safety requires two items to prove identity when applying for a license. If it is your first time applying for a license in Tennessee you will need to bring with you at least one item from the Primary Identification list. New residents to Tennessee will also surrender their licenses from their former state. The second item may be from the Primary or Secondary identification list. If you are applying for a duplicate license or a renewal you just need to provide two items from either the primary list or the secondary list. If you wanted to change your name on your license you will need proof of the name change such as an original certified court order, marriage certificate, divorce decree, etc.

Any original, new or returning residents who need to obtain a license in Tennessee must show at least two documents from List A or one document from List A and another from List B.

Table 1:  Primary Identification Documents

Document Notes
U.S. photo driver license or photo ID card or license from another country. Photo document much be issued by state or federal agency
  • Also includes photo learner permits
  • Licenses not issued in English must be translated and accompanied by a Certificate of Accurate Translation or a valid International Driving Permit
Valid Passport
  • Expired passports will not be accepted
  • If passport was not issued in English, it must be translated and accompanied by a Certificate of Accurate Translation
USCIS Documentation
  • I-797 approval notice
  • I-94 card
  • Visa stamp in passport
  • I-797 receipt notice for visa status extension filings
  • I-551 (green card)
Marriage Certificate
  • The certificate must have the applicant’s full name and date of birth. It also must be the copy that is registered after marriage and not just the license authorizing the union.
Legal Change of Name
  • Document as recorded in court decree with judge’s original signature and/or official court seal

Table 2:  Secondary Identification Documents

Document Notes
Computerized Pay Stubs Pay stub must include applicant’s full name and it must have Social Security number on it
Work ID Prefer work ID with photo
Financial Institution Documents Includes computer printouts of bank statements, savings account statements, loan documents, etc.
Social Security Documents Social Security Number (SSN card) or sworn affidavit if no Social Security number has been issued
IRS/state tax form W-2 forms, property tax receipts, etc.

Table 3:  Proof of Tennessee Residency

Two documents from List A showing residence address used on application and applicant’s (your) name, or name of applicant’s parent, guardian or spouse OR One document from List A and One Document from List B
  • Current bank statements
  • Current rental or mortgage contract fully signed and executed or receipt including deed of sale for property
  • Current automobile, life or health insurance policy (no wallet cards)
  • Current driver’s license or ID issued by the State of Tennessee to a parent, legal guardian or spouse of applicant (must also show proof of relationship)
  • Current TN motor vehicle registration
  • Current IRS tax reporting W-2 form
  • Receipt for personal property or real estate taxes paid within the last year
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification number (ITIN) issued by the IRS
  • Original I-94 card issued by USCIS or CBP
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by USCIS
  • Original I-551 (permanent residence card) issued by USCIS