Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Tennessee

The state of Tennessee offers several important benefits for both current military service personnel and veterans. These range from the ability to make your driver’s license “expiration proof” for current service members to specialty honor plates for veterans and even special parking privileges for plate owners.

License and registration tax and fee exemption

There are no registration or license fee exemptions for current military members or veterans in the state of Tennessee. However, the state does offer a renewal solution for military members with Tennessee ID who are residing out of state. You will need to have a Code 30 applied to your driver’s license. This process cannot be completed online, nor are the forms available for online download and completion at home. To ensure that a Code 30 is placed on your license while you are out of state to prevent it from expiring, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  • Copy your out of state/country orders. (Note that a letter from your commanding officer or a leave of earnings statement might work as well.)

  • Obtain a money order or write a check for $8 (the duplicate license fee).

  • Copy your military ID and have it notarized.

  • Provide the necessary personal details, including your name, DOB, email address, DL number and your out of state/country address.

  • Mail the above to this address:

PO Box 945
Nashville, TN 37202

With that being said, any vet who can prove they are 100% disabled from military service, or any former POW, is exempt from paying the motor vehicle privilege tax.

For military member vehicle registration, the process is relatively complicated, and varies considerably depending on the situation (new vehicle, used vehicle, renewal, transfer, etc.). You can find detailed information about each process on the Tennessee Department of Revenue website here.

Driver’s license veteran designation

In 2013, the state of Tennessee began issuing driver’s licenses with a veteran designation on them. However, this process cannot be completed online, nor are there any downloadable forms available from the state government. Any eligible military veteran must visit a driver service office and provide the required documentation. Military veterans need only bring form DD-214 (original or certified copy). If the license is a renewal or a replacement (duplicate), vets can visit a county clerk to have this done. The standard renewal fee of $8 is also required (the state does not waive fees for veterans).

Military honor plates

Tennessee offers a very wide range of military honor plates that veterans can purchase for their vehicles. In most instances, the plates cannot be personalized, but there are options available for virtually all branches of service. In addition to providing the recognition these veterans deserve, honor plates also carry with them certain parking privileges (particularly in the case of disabled veterans). Note that most plates come at a cost, with the exception of the initial plate for a disabled veteran, POW plate, Purple Heart recipient, Silver Star and a handful of others, which are free on the first issue. The second plate comes with a $21.50 annual fee. All other plates cost an initial $25.75 with an annual fee of $21.50.

It’s also important to note that each plate comes with stringent requirements that veteran will need to meet in order to purchase that particular military honor plate. For example, the Distinguished Service Cross plate is only available to vets who have been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross award, and have a letter of confirmation from the Department of Veterans Services and DD-214. You can find a full list of military honor plates, their costs and eligibility requirements on the Tennessee DOR website here.

Military skills test waiver

Under the Highways for Heroes Program, vets in Tennessee with transferable driving experience due to their service related skills may qualify to skip the CDL test. Note that this is only the driving portion. All applicants for a CDL will need to complete the knowledge portion of the test. In addition, any vet who can prove they held a “military operator’s permit” within the previous two years will be eligible to waive the road skills test.

Driver license renewal while deployed

Like those with Tennessee licenses who are stationed out of state, deployed military service members can have a Code 30 applied to their license (with the $8 duplicate fee) to ensure that it does not expire while they are deployed.

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