Temporary Operation Permits (TOPs)

Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-4-115


** Beginning November 1, 2021 Temporary Operating Permits will only be available as Print On Demand through your TNClerk system. Paper TOP's will no longer be used. **



  • Temporary Operation Permit(s) (TOPs) are issued to motor vehicle owners desiring to operate a motor vehicle, otherwise subject to registration in Tennessee, over the streets and highways of the state for a temporary period of thirty (30) days.
  • *IMPORTANT REMINDER* TOP’s shall not be issued on salvage vehicles. Proper identification is required of each applicant.


  • A TOP may be issued to the owner of a motor vehicle who has been unable to obtain a new registration for  their motor vehicle. One additional TOP for a period of thirty (30) days may be issued to such owner, if the owner was unable to resolve their original registration issue during the previous thirty (30) day period. Applicants must provide proper identification, supporting documentation and payment of the fee to receive a TOP.
  • Applications for TOPs may be refused if it appears the owner of the motor vehicle is using the permit as a means to avoid registering the vehicle or if it appears the owner is attempting to circumvent any statutory requirement.


  • Owners of motor vehicles may be granted a temporary operation permit for the following
    • The vehicle title is not available for timely registration
    • The vehicle was purchased from an individual (casual and isolated sale) and will be transported to the county clerk’s office to be registered
    • The vehicle has been purchased by a non-resident of Tennessee to be transported to another state for registration
    • The vehicle cannot be timely registered due to a reasonable circumstance, requiring temporary operation, while the vehicle is being prepared for proper registration
    • The temporary operation permit should be displayed, securely fastened to the rear of the vehicle


  • Acceptable Documentation for permit issuance includes:
    • Proof that action is being taken to clear a title or registration (title not available for timely registration)
    • Copy of a Dealer’s Invoice
    • Notarized Bill of Sale or assigned title from previous owner (casual and isolated sale)
    • Documentation to verify a place of residence (non-resident purchase)
    • Completed Application for Temporary Operation Permit.



Temporary Operation Permit: 1200                               Issue Year: 1994

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