Motor Vehicle -
Current Tennessee Residents Purchasing a Vehicle
Required proofs of identity and residency -- State law requires the applicant or owner to visit the County Clerk's office in person to title a vehicle, apply for a license plate or transfer a plate from one vehicle to another. Please bring Photo Driver License or other acceptable forms of identification.
If you can't personally transact this business you may designate a representative by a notarized Power of Attorney. The Power of Attorney form must identify the vehicle by make, model and identification number and the individual presenting the Power of Attorney will need to come in with a drivers’ license for identification purposes. A free form for this purpose may be obtained at any office location, by calling 865-215-2385, clicking on the link above, or printing the PDF version from our forms list. Power of Attorney designations cannot authorize a person to sign the odometer certification both as the seller and the buyer of a vehicle.
The dealership usually handles the title and registration of a new vehicle for the customer. The dealership may make application for title and registration in the county where the purchase took place or send the title application to the Knox County Clerk’s office to process. If we receive the title application, we will either notify you by mail or simply process the application if the appropriate fees are provided. If the title work is given to you to process, you will need to bring all documentation to our office for processing. Application for title and registration may be made at our main office or any one of our satellite offices. You cannot apply for a title only; the vehicle must be registered at the time when you make application for title. You must be the owner of the vehicle or furnish a notarized Power of Attorney form from the owner. You will be required to furnish a copy of your driver license or acceptable proof of identification.
When purchasing a used vehicle from an individual you should make sure the seller properly reassigns the Certificate of Title. The seller should sign under the Assignment of Title by Registered Owner heading. Make sure the person’s name from whom you are purchasing the vehicle appears on the front of the title and they have signed on the back exactly as his/her name appears on the front of the title. Please note that only a licensed dealer may pass ownership without titling the vehicle in his/her name.
If there are two names on the front of the title and the names are joined by the conjunction “AND”, both parties must sign the back of the title. Upon receipt of the Certificate of Title you should sign to accept ownership of the vehicle and bring the title to the clerk’s office. You will be required to pay sales tax on the vehicle, a registration fee, and a title fee. You cannot apply for a title only; the vehicle must be registered at the time when you make application for title. Application for title and registration may be made at any one of our locations. You will be required to furnish a copy of your driver license or acceptable forms of identification.
If you bought the vehicle for considerably less than retail market value, the seller must sign an Affidavit of Non-Dealer Transfers of Motor Vehicles and BoatsA form for this purpose may be picked up at one of our seven offices, or downloaded from the link above. If you are unable to locate the seller, a notarized appraisal from a licensed dealer is acceptable; otherwise tax will be based on the NADA book value.
In cases where a title does not exist, depending on the age of the vehicle, the owner may need to furnish a certificate of ownership. Please click the link and read carefully to determine whether you qualify. Situations vary, so please call one of the Clerk’s locations to speak with one of our motor vehicle clerks.
Name and Address Changes – If your name has changed, you must come in person to one of our office locations with the title to the vehicle and the paperwork verifying your name change, i.e. a court decree or marriage certificate. If your address has changed, please have your vehicle tag number or VIN number ready and call or come in to one of our offices and we will be happy to make that change on the database for you.
Transfers from Immediate Family Members – Transfers from immediate family members may be eligible for taxexemption. Qualifying family members include only the following: father, mother, children, grandparents, great grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and the spouse of any of those listed above. Gifts from non-family members in some cases may also be tax exempt. However, the State does require a sworn Affidavit of Non-Dealer Transfers of Motor Vehicles and Boats (Affidavit for Sales Tax Exemption under Certain Conditions), or a written statement from the giver. Forms are available at any of the Knox County Clerk’s locations or may be downloaded by clicking on the link above. The State does not permit a corporate transfer without collection of sales tax, even among family members. However, if you are the sole owner of a business and wish to transfer your vehicle from ownership by the business to personal ownership in your own name, please call us as you may also qualify for this exemption. Alterations, erasures or white out voids Tennessee Certificates of Title.
Transfer of Title for Vehicles Awarded by Divorce Decree – If you are to be awarded a vehicle by divorce decree and you need to transfer the title registration, please bring a certified copy of the final marital dissolution agreement and final divorce decree signed by the presiding judge. Your attorney should present the Court with the year, make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle you are to receive in order to get it properly entered onto your marital dissolution agreement. If you do not have a copy of your Divorce Decree and marital dissolution agreement, the court where you received your divorce will be able to furnish you with a certified copy. You will also need to bring the vehicle tags, and title. You may also be asked to provide an odometer reading if the vehicle is less than ten years old,. You will exchange your old tags for the new vehicle plates. If there is a lien, the title is held by the financial institution. You will need to come in person for this transaction. The fee is $72, including the Knox County Wheel Tax. Alterations, erasures or white out voids Tennessee Certificates of Title.
Transfer of Ownership Due To Inheritance – If you are involved in the transfer of a vehicle due to inheritance, please call one of our office locations to discuss the matter with one of our motor vehicle clerks. These situations vary and require individual attention. You may be asked to complete an Affidavit of Inheritance Form to complete the transfer of ownership.
We are proud sponsors of the State Organ Donor Awareness Program, so when visiting our office, please consider donating a dollar to this worthy cause. We welcome any questions, comments and suggestions that will help us serve you better.