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Transportation and Driving




“wherever you’re from, zipcar means freedom.”

Zipcar and Vanderbilt have teamed up to give international students 24/7 access to Zipcars right on campus! It only costs $25 to join and students only need to be 18 or older. After that, members pay by the hour or day and gas and insurance is always included. To use the cars, make a reservation online or on your phone, let yourself in with your unique Zipcard, and drive away. For more details or to sign up, head to zipcar.com/vanderbilt.

The best part? Zipcar accepts all foreign licenses. For more information, visit www.zipcar.com/apply/foreign-drivers


WeCar by Enterprise car sharing has teamed up with Vanderbilt to provide a totally automated, membership-based and environmentally friendly transportation solution, whether it is for an hour, a day, a weekend or longer.

For more information, visit http://www.wecar.com/content/car-sharing/en_US/join-wecar/program-details-vandy.html

Car Rental
It is probably better to have a car while looking for a place to live, especially if you are looking for off campus housing. Here are the phone numbers & hours for the airport location of companies from which you can rent a car.  There are several locations for each company throughout the city.  To find the location nearest you, be sure to call the toll free phone number or check out their website.

National Car Rental (Nashville airport)        Alamo (Nashville airport)
Tel: 1-800-227-7368; Local: 615-361-7467 Tel: 1-800-462-5266; Local: 615-275-1050
Hours: Sun-Sat: 06:00 AM-11:59 PM   Hours: Sun-Sat: 6:00 AM-11:59 PM

Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Nashville airport)
Tel: 1-800-261-7331; Local: 615-275-0011
Hours vary, call or look on-line for more information

Hertz (Nashville airport)
Tel: 1-800-654-3131; Local: 615-361-3131
Hours: Sun-Sat: 06:00 AM-11:59 PM

Dollar (Nashville airport)
Tel: 1-800-800-3665; Local: 615-275-1921
Hours: Sun-Thurs: 6:00 AM-11:59 PM; Fri & Sat: 6:00 AM-11:00 PM

It is difficult to catch a taxi in the city unless you are at a large hotel or downtown on weekends. Driving after drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited in Nashville!  Keep the phone numbers of taxi companies handy.

Music City Taxi:  Tel.615-742-3030
United Cab:  Tel.615-228-6969
Yellow Cab:  Tel.615-252-0101


Bus schedules/routes can either be obtained at the ISSS Office, the Post Office at the Sarratt Student Center, or on the Nashville MTA website (since bus schedules/routes change occasionally, it is best to check the most updated schedule on the MTA website). Buses normally run every 20-25 minutes on weekdays from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm, and every hour on Saturday and Sunday from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm.

Nashville MTA
Tel: 615-862-5950
Adult (Local Service) $ 1.35
Adult (Express Service) $ 1.85
31-Day Pass (unlimited rides for 31 days) $65.00
7-Day Pass (unlimited rides for 7 days) $18.00

Most MTA bus stops are marked with a blue and white sign. Signs in the downtown area have numbers and names of all routes serving that stop. If bus stops have not yet been installed on your bus route, walk to the nearest intersection of the street traveled by the bus you wish to board and flag it down when it comes in sight. Do not hesitate to ask the bus driver if you are unsure if you are on the correct bus.

Airport Shuttles

Gray Line Airport Express
Tel: (615) 883-5555
Rates: one way – $12, roundtrip – $20 (check for any rate changes)
This shuttle services the downtown and West End area hotels (several which are near Vanderbilt campus).  Service begins at 5:00 am and runs until 11:00 pm.  Shuttles depart every 15-20 minutes from the airport and every 30 minutes for most hotels.

More information regarding airport transportation can be found at the Nashville International Airport’s website at http://www.flynashville.com/ground_trans/default.aspx.

PLEASE NOTE: Public transportation is VERY limited in Nashville.

Rent A Bike!!

re {cycle} allows the Vanderbilt community to travel wherever in Nashville they want to go, without a time increment fee based system, and with the guarantee that a bike will be available to them.Designed for long-term bike rental for the Vanderbilt community.

Check out re {cycle} at http://anchorlink.vanderbilt.edu/organization/recycle or  http://universityrecycle.com/.

Another option for bike rental is Nashville B-cycle:

B-cycle’s primary aim is for the city of Nashville to reduce congestion and make life easier on the Nashville workforce who can quickly diminish their commuting costs thanks to B-cycle’s services. B-cycle is designed for shorter trips and has a more structured fee system.


Automobiles – Because public transportation is limited in Nashville, you may want to consider purchasing a car, although many students are fine without one.  In order to drive a car, you have to get a driver license issued by the state of Tennessee – even if you have an international driver license.  As of October 1, 2007, international students and immigrants are only allowed to get a Temporary Driver License.

Driving in Tennessee
The rules of the road in Tennessee may be quite different than that with which you are accustomed in your home country.  Please note the following important instructions:

  • Buckle up.  It is illegal and strictly enforced in Tennessee to drive without your seatbelt.
  • Use your turning signal.  Before changing lanes and turning, you must use your turning signal.
  • Right on Red.  You may turn right at all red lights unless it is specifically marked otherwise.
  • Never drink and drive.  Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited and has drastic consequences.
  • Educate yourself.  To be sure that your driving etiquette is acceptable in Tennessee, please refer to the following driving manual: http://www.tn.gov/safety/publications/05Manual.pdf

Obtaining a Driver License

Driver licenses are obtainable from Tennessee Department of Safety offices (often referred to as the DMV, which stands for Department of Motor Vehicles as it is titled in other states).  To obtain one, you must pass a vision test, a written test examining your knowledge of Tennessee’s traffic rules, and a road test (driving test). You can study the traffic rules and regulations from the official website of the Tennessee Department of Safety, as listed above.

The road test (driving test) takes about 10 minutes. There is no parking test except when you actually park your car at the end of the test. However, you should allow a full day to take the test as the testing centers are usually very crowded, and it’s hard to predict wait times.

For more information contact:
Tennessee Department of Safety
1150 Foster Avenue Nashville, TN 37249
Tel: 615-741-3954
Tel: 615-251-5310 (Driver License Issuance)
All driver license information is available on this website, including a practice test

Required for taking the test:
*Please check the Tennessee Department of Safety website for detailed information on acceptable documents: http://www.tn.gov/safety/driverlicense/dlnew.shtml .*

• Proof of your age and full name, such as your passport or birth certificate, and proof of any name changes since issued (for example, a marriage license).

• Proof of legal status in U.S. – valid passport with I-94 and valid I-20/DS-2019.

• Proof of Tennessee Residency (two statements or bills from official organizations showing your address in Tennessee: documents from your bank, utility service, your leasing contract or any other bills you receive at your home address).

• For those students who live on campus, you will need to get a letter from Vanderbilt stating your living situation.  To obtain the letter, see Susie Woodard in 4113 Branscomb.

• A car that you will use for the road test (most students own their own cars before taking the test and drive their car with an international license, while some students borrow a car from a friend).

• Payment of $19.50, unless otherwise instructed.
Special Notes for Nonimmigrants:

• The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record must be in Active status when an F, M or J nonimmigrant applies for a Driver License.   Otherwise your application will be unsuccessful.

• Wait at least ten calendar days from the date of entry into the United States to apply for a driver’s license or ID.  The verification system needs some time to process the information.  Additionally, you should wait two business days after your SEVIS record becomes Active to apply.

• You are not required to have a Social Security Number in order to receive a driver license, but you are required to apply for one regardless.

• If seeking a driver license for a dependent, he or she must provide their own documentation as described above.  You should also include proof of relationship, such as a marriage certificate.  The office will verify that your visa’s duration time matches.

• Be consistent with paperwork.  Be sure that you understand the meaning of Family Name/Surname/Last Name versus First Name and enter these names consistently in every form (many errors derive from mistakes in paperwork).  If the English alphabet is not used by your mother tongue, make sure the transliteration is understandable and consistently used.  Please note that the computer systems do not recognize accentuation and letters like ñ or é.

• If you encounter a problem when applying for a Driver License: 1. be sure that you understand what the nature of the problem is, 2. you may want to ask to speak to a supervisor, 3. you can contact your advisor at the ISSS office.

Test Centers
624 Hart Lane Nashville, TN 37216
Tel: 615-532-9780
Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
*Note: 2nd Wednesday of the month Station opens 1 hour later. The office opens at 8:30 but be prepared to arrive before 7:30.

6604 Centennial Blvd. Nashville, TN 37209
Tel: 615-741-4560, 741-4561
Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
*Note: 2nd Wednesday of the month Station opens 1hour later.

Buying a Car

Searching Online:

Online search engines are a good place to start your search when looking to buy a car. Websites like www.cars.com can help you search for many different types of cars from many different sellers that are close to where you live. This way, you can compare similar cars from different locations quickly. After you find a specific car, or small list of specific cars that interest you, it is a good idea to contact the seller or dealer and visit them in person.

Car Dealers:
There are two kinds of car dealers in Nashville – certified car dealers and non-certified car dealers. If you are considering spending a lot of money (more than $8,000-$10,000) on a used car or you want to search for a newer car that is only a few years old (about five years old or less) it is much better to buy it from certified car dealers. Those car dealers are the local distributors certified by specific car manufacturers. In other words, car manufacturers have to guarantee the quality of used cars sold in those car dealers, and you can also enjoy the maintenance services provided by them.

If you are considering spending less money on a used car and you are not familiar the mechanics of cars, looking for a non-certified car dealers may be a reasonable choice. CarMax, which is located near the “100 Oaks Shopping Mall”, is the largest non-certified car dealer in the U.S. Just like the certified car dealers, it guarantees the quality of its used cars and offers maintenance services. However, the quality of the cars may not be comparable to that offered by certified car dealers.

If you want to spend a small amount of money on your car (about $5,000 or less), you may consider buying a car from other non-certified car dealers. To minimize fraud, only buy a car from a non-certified car dealer which is authorized by the State of Tennessee. According to the law, all car dealers must have a license (posted in their office) authorized by the Tennessee state government.

Individual Sellers:

If you buy from an individual seller, rather than a dealership, it is very important for you to make sure that the name and address on the title is the same as the seller’s name and address by checking their ID. Also, you should make sure that you take the car title from the previous owner when you complete the purchase.


When buying a used car, there are multiple ways to make sure that you avoid buying a car that already has many problems. There are many databases, such as www.carfax.com that provide the history of the specific car you are interested in. This way, you can know if the car has been in any accidents, and see how often the car has been inspected, among other things. The carfax history might be available for free through the dealer, or you might need to pay a small fee to access it online.

Also, it is a good idea to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you purchase it. For about $100, a mechanical inspection can reveal the mechanical condition of the car. You can search online to find a mechanic nearby that will perform the inspection.

If you desire to purchase a car while your are here at Vanderbilt, financing is one option.  However, it is extremely difficult for non-residents and non-citizens to obtain financing.  Moreover, ISSS does not recommend that you accrue any debt in your time here.  You can learn more about financing at http://www.bankrate.com/.

Temporary Plates:

When purchasing a car, make sure that you obtain a temporary license plate from the dealer so that you can drive the car while you wait for an official license plate from the county court.

Additional Help:

Here is a link to a federal government web page about how to buy a used car in America: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0055-buying-used-car#before Because this information is provided by the federal government, you can be sure that the information is sound and objective.

Car Registration

1. A Vehicle Emissions Inspection is required prior to obtaining your state license plates. The fee is $9.00. There are 10 locations in the area. Visit http://www.nashvillevip.org or call (615) 340-5656 for information.
2. Visit http://www.tn.gov/revenue/vehicle/index.shtml for instructions and information on vehicle titling and registration.  Take the title of your car signed by the previous owner and your identification documents to the County Clerk’s Office for registration. (County Clerk’s office is at 523 Mainstream Dr., 615-862-6050, Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., M-F)
3. Pay the registration fee and get your plates.
4. The title certificate will be sent to your mailing address.

Automobile Insurance

If you purchase your own car, you must have third-party automobile insurance. Prices vary so check with several agents before deciding. Often your car dealer will offer an insurance contract but this may not always be the cheapest route. Sufficient coverage is recommended; otherwise you will be liable for any damages incurred in an accident. Tennessee auto insurance liability minimums are 25/50/10: $25,000 per person for bodily injuries you cause to the other party; $50,000 for bodily injuries of two or more persons; and $10,000 for property damage you caused.
To find insurance companies, contact the companies listed below directly or access the yahoo auto section and compare quotes for each company.

Auto Club South (Progressive)
2501 Hillsboro Rd., Ste. 1, Nashville, TN 37212
Tel: 615-297-7700

GEICO 1-800-861-8380

State Farm 1-877-SF4-BANK (1-877-734-2265)

Progressive Insurance 1-800-PROGRESSIVE

Allstate Auto Insurance (847) 402-2372

Auto Repair and Services

Carl Wood’s Garage
108 28th Avenue N (Behind McDonald’s on West End): 615-327-3861

Eddie’s Garage
412 40th Avenue North: 615-321-3601

Sears Automotive Center
5252 Hickory Hollow Parkway: 615-731-9528
Whaley’s Paint and Body Shop
5300 Alabama Avenue (off Charlotte Pike, near I-40): 615-298-5437

Wilkie’s Safety Lane
4400 Charlotte Avenue: 615-292-3464


If you drive a car on campus and plan to park on University property, you have to register for a parking permit from Vanderbilt University. You can apply for this at the Office of Traffic and Parking located on the ground floor of the Wesley Place Parking Garage. You can also apply via their website. The parking permit costs about $252/year. This permit is valid one year from August to August, so if you are participating in the summer program, you need to get a temporary permit during July. Do not to park on campus without permission, or you will receive a parking ticket and your car may be towed.

Office of Traffic and Parking
Wesley Place Garage
2043 Scarritt Place Nashville, TN 37203  Tel: 322-2554
E-mail: parking@vanderbilt.edu


Traffic is often heavy in the morning (7:30-9:00 a.m.) traveling toward downtown, and in the evening (4:30-6:00 p.m.) traveling away from downtown in Nashville. It might be necessary to plan on adding thirty minutes to your commute depending on traffic conditions.  You may also check current traffic conditions on the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s website at http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/tdotsmartway/.