Tennessee Permit and Driver's License FAQ

  • Applying for Your TN License
  • Preparing for the TN Permit Test
  • Taking the TN Permit Test?
  • Preparing for the TN Driving Test
  • Taking the TN Driving Test
  • Renewing Your TN License
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Applying for Your TN License: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the age requirements for getting started?

Tennessee’s Graduated Driver’s Licensing Program (GDL) requires teens to progress through a series of stages to earn their full, unrestricted license. The stages and age requirements are:

  • Learner’s Permit – 15 years old
  • Intermediate Restricted Driver’s License – 16 years old
  • Intermediate Unrestricted Driver’s License – 17 years old
  • Full, Unrestricted Driver’s License – 18 years old

In addition to the stages above, 14 year olds may be eligible for a “hardship license,” which is available to a teen whose family is going through a hardship.

What documents am I required to bring with me when applying for a license in Tennessee?

  • Proof of citizenship/permanent residency
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of Tennessee residency
  • Social Security Number
  • Form SF-0259 signed by parent or legal guardian
  • Proof of school enrollment (if graduated, then diploma or GED)
  • Form SF-1010 – Proof of school attendance/progress
  • $10.50 for permit fee

Here are the documents that are OK to submit as proof of the above.

Where do I file my TN driver’s license application?

You should file your application at a local Driver Services Center.

How can I contact my local office?

Visit https://www.tn.gov/safety/topic/locations for office locations and contact information.

Do I have to take a Driver’s Ed Course?

No, driver’s ed is not required in Tennessee – unless you receive multiple moving violations while holding your Intermediate Restricted Driver’s License.

What if I am new to Tennessee?

You can transfer an out-of-state permit if you are 15 or above and you can transfer an out-of-state driver’s license if you are 16 or above. If ready to apply for a Tennessee driver’s license, you must have held your learner’s permit for at least 180 days.

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Preparing for the TN Permit Test: Frequently Asked Questions

What subjects are commonly covered on the written test?

The written test covers information necessary to drive safely, such as traffic laws, road signs and safe driving techniques. Questions are taken from Section B of the Tennessee Driver’s Manual. Here are two examples of content from the manual that you could be tested on:

  • Outside mirrors should always be adjusted before driving to reduce blind spots and provide maximum visibility.
  • The Basic Speed Rule (BSR) is not Tennessee law but rather a safe driving principle. It says that the speed you may drive is limited by current conditions.

How is the test formatted?

The Tennessee written test is multiple choice.

Are there a lot of “trick” questions on the written test?

No, questions are taken from Section B of the Tennessee Driver’s Manual and are not written to “trick you” into giving a wrong answer. Their only purpose is to ensure you have the knowledge to drive safely.

How many questions are on the test and how many do I need to answer correctly to pass?

There are 30 questions on the test and you must answer at least 24 of them correctly to pass.

What are the best ways to prepare for the written test?

Study Section B of the Tennessee Driver’s Manual thoroughly. You can then test your understanding of the material presented by taking online practice tests. If you take the tests and notice certain subjects that you are having a difficult time with, be sure to devote extra study time to those areas.

Where can I get a free Tennessee Driver’s Manual to study?

We offer the driver’s manual for free.

How can I improve my odds for passing the first time I take the test?

Questions on the Tennessee written test roughly correspond to the following percentages: Traffic signs and signals – 25%; safe driving principles – 25%; rules of the road – 25%; and drugs and alcohol – 25%. Be sure to study these areas extensively. You can take practice tests to identify weak areas and direct your studies.

What should I do the night before the test?

It would be beneficial to read through the driver’s manual again and to take practice tests to ensure you understand the material and don’t need to spend more time studying a specific area. You should also be sure to get a good night’s rest so that you are rested and ready for the test the next day.

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Taking the TN Permit Test?: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to make an appointment to take the written test?

To avoid a potentially long wait, you may want to contact your local Driver Services Center to see if appointments are accepted.

Where do I take the written test?

You will take the test at a Driver Services Center.

What do I need to bring when I sit for the written test?

  • Proof of citizenship/permanent residency
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of Tennessee residency
  • Social Security Number
  • Form SF-0259 signed by parent or legal guardian
  • Proof of school enrollment (if graduated, then diploma or GED)
  • Form SF-1010 – Proof of school attendance/progress
  • $10.50 for permit fee

Here are the documents that are OK to submit as proof of the above.

Who should accompany me to the written test?

You should be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Do I need to pay a fee to take the written test?

Yes, you will need to pay a fee of $10.50.

What should I expect when I sit for the written test?

The test has 30 questions covering road signs, rules of the road, safe driving principles and drugs and alcohol. You will need to answer at least 24 questions correctly to pass. You will not be able to refer to any notes or to the driver’s manual while taking the test. To get more familiar with the test format, take a practice test.

What happens after I pass the written test?

You will receive your Learner’s Permit and can begin behind-the-wheel driver training. You need to complete 50 hours of driver training, with at least 10 hours at night. Your supervising driver must be at least 21 years of age.

What happens if I fail the written test?

You can retake the test.

How soon can I retake the written test?

You will have to wait seven days and pay a $2 fee to retake the test.

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Preparing for the TN Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve passed the written permit test, what are the next steps?

You need to log 50 hours of driving practice with a supervising driver who is at least 21 years of age. Also, of the 50 hours of practice, at least 10 must be completed at night.

How long after getting my Learner’s Permit can I apply for a Restricted Minor Permit?

Once you have completed the 50 hours of supervised driving practice and held your permit for at least 180 days you can apply for an Intermediate Restricted Driver’s License.

Can I drive anywhere in Tennessee with my Instruction Permit?

Yes, you can drive on any Tennessee public or private road as long as you are accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older.

Should I practice driving solely during the day?

No, you are required to complete at least 10 hours of driving practice at night.

Does anyone have to be in the car with me when I’m driving with my Learner’s Permit?

Yes, you must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old.

What should I do if I have a lost Tennessee Learner’s Permit?

You must apply for a replacement in person. Visit your local Driver Services Center with proper identification. You will also need to pay a replacement fee of $8.

How can I be sure I’m prepared to ace the driving test?

The best way to ensure you are prepared is to study the Tennessee Driver’s Manual and to practice driving as much as possible with a responsible supervising driver. You should practice both making common vehicle maneuvers and driving safely in traffic.

Are there particular driving maneuvers I should practice?

Maneuvers you should practice include turns, including three point turns; stopping and accelerating; parking; and backing up.

How can I simulate the driving test?

You should practice completing maneuvers such as backing up, turning and parking as well as driving in traffic. When driving in traffic be sure to obey road signs and to be observant of surrounding traffic.

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Taking the TN Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule my driving test?

Schedule an appointment online at https://dl.safety.tn.gov/_/ or by calling toll-free 1-866-849-3548

Where do I take the driving test?

You will take the test at a Driver Services Center.

What should I bring to the driving test?

  • Form-1256 – Proof of 50 Hours of Driving Training
  • Financial responsibility form signed by parent or guardian
  • Proof of citizenship/permanent residency
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of Tennessee residency
  • Social Security Number
  • Proof of school enrollment (if applying with out-of-state license or permit)
  • Vehicle
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance

Here are the documents that are OK to submit as proof of the above.

Who should bring me to the driving test?

A licensed parent or legal guardian should bring you.

What will I be asked to do on the driving test?

The examiner will give you directions, for example to complete certain maneuvers or to drive down a certain road, and then will watch your performance and evaluate whether or not you can drive safely. You will not be asked to do anything illegal.

What are the most common reasons new drivers fail the driving test?

Common reasons include: violation of any traffic law; lack of cooperation with the examiner or refusal to follow directions; any dangerous action; or contributing to an accident.

What are five mistakes I should be sure to avoid when taking the driving test?

  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Using poor driving posture or incorrect hand position on wheel
  • Failing to come to a complete stop
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Not signaling for a turn

What happens if I fail the driving test?

You will be allowed to retake the test. You may not retest before the next working day.

How soon can I retake the test?

The amount of time you have to wait to retake the test will be determined by the number of errors your commit. Following the test, the examiner will go over your test with you, identify your mistakes and let you know how soon you can retake the it.

I’ve passed the road test, now what?

You will receive your Intermediate Restricted Driver’s License.

What restrictions come with a Restricted Driver’s License?

  • You cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or over; traveling to from school or work; or it’s between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. and you are going hunting or fishing.
  • You cannot drive with more than one passenger unless accompanied by licensed driver age 21 or they are immediate family members

Once you are 17, have held your restricted license for one year and have not accumulated more than six points on your driving record you can apply for your Intermediate Unrestricted License.

Once you turn 18 or graduate high school, you can get your full, unrestricted license.

What are the insurance requirements for drivers in TN?

Tennessee is a “fault” state which means whoever is legally determined at fault for an accident is responsible for paying for injuries and damage. Tennessee requires drivers carry at least the following minimum insurance coverage to pay for accidents:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury
  • $50,000 for bodily injury when 2 or more people are hurt
  • $15,000 for property damage
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Renewing Your TN License: Frequently Asked Questions

What if I need to renew my license or replace a lost/stolen license?

Tennessee Driver’s Licenses are valid for five years and expire on your birthday. The Tennessee Department of Safety will mail you a renewal notice approximately 8 to 10 weeks before the expiration date with instructions for how to renew.

You can replace a lost or stolen Tennessee Driver’s License in person at a Driver Services Center. In addition, you may be eligible to replace your license online.

Where can I renew my Tennessee driver’s license?

You can renew your license online, in person or by mail.

Will I be required to take a vision test when renewing my license?

No, you are not required to take a vision test. You are only required to take the test when you first apply for your license. To pass the test, you must have at least 20/40 vision in each eye individually and both eyes together. This may be with or without glasses or contact lenses.


The Tennessee DMV Test — What You Need to Know

It’s no secret that getting your learner’s permit is essential to getting your drivers license.  But before can experience the freedom that comes with a learner’s permit, you’ll need to pass the Tennessee written permit test.

The Tennessee DMV is responsible for administering the test and will only issue you a learner’s permit after you’ve passed the written permit test. You will be tested on the rules of the road, road signs, signals, Tennessee’s motor vehicle laws, and safe driving practices.

Get the Edge You Need With TN DMV Practice Tests

Will you be ready for the TN permit test? Are you uncertain as to what you need to study?  With state statistics revealing that the majority of people fail the exam, it’s important that you start preparing with the right tools.

We’re here to help with our proven study material.  With our permit test resources, you’ll get the most out of your study and practice time. More importantly, you’ll be ready for your permit test.

You’ll find our sample interactive Tennessee practice permit tests to be invaluable.  They are designed to provide you with instant feedback and provide a glimpse at the real exam format while introducing you to some of the same topics. You’ll also find a copy of the official Tennessee Driver’s Handbook, as well as motorcycle permit test study resources.