Title (Certificate of Title)

Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55, Chapter 3


  • The "Certificate of Title” is a legal document used to authenticate ownership of a vehicle. In Tennessee, the title is given to the owner, or if applicable, the first lienholder. When a lien is satisfied, the lienholder is required to sign the release on the title, forward title to the owner and notify the Division within seventy-two (72) hours of the release.
  • Tennessee issues titles on all types of vehicles operated upon the highways including motorcycles, mopeds, house trailers, camping trailers, off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s). Tennessee does not require titles for boats, boat trailers, U.S. Government vehicles, implements of husbandry, special mobile equipment not designed for use primary for transportation of persons or property and only incidentally moved or operated over the highway, collapsible camping trailers, utility trailers (non-commercial), and farm trailers.


  • The front of the Tennessee Certificate of Title is required to be printed with the following information on it:
    • VIN, make, model, year, and body type of motor vehicle,
    • Title and County Number
    • Former title number, former title state, sales and use tax amount, and odometer reading
    • Title issued date and purchase date
    • Name and address of any owner(s) as well as the name and address of up to two (2) lien holders
    • Brands and/or remarks related to the vehicle or the title itself, e.g., Replica, Duplicate, Actual Mileage, etc
  • The back of the Tennessee Certificate of Title is to be used for the following:
    • Transferring ownership of the vehicle
    • Recording all liens
    • Odometer Disclosure
    • Record Date of Sale
    • Record Sales Tax
  • If a handwriting mistake is made during the transfer of a title, a line may be drawn through the incorrect information. The dealer or applicant may then write the correct information and complete an affidavit stating why the change was made. Any other form of alteration or erasure voids the document
  • When an owner sells a vehicle they are required to complete the assignment of title section on the back of the title, and deliver the title to the new owner. See the “Transfer of Ownership” section of this guide for more information
  • With the exception of dealer to dealer transfers, a certificate of title can only be used once to transfer ownership of a vehicle
  • The purchaser MUST title and/or register the vehicle and pay all applicable fees and taxes. No subsequent ownership transfer can occur until this step is completed. Only then, with the new title, may the vehicle’s ownership be transferred again
  • When accepting and examining titles:
    • Establish the ownership by following the transfer/chain of ownership trail and determine who the seller/owner is
    • Record all liens, including any liens carried forward from the title or supporting documentation. See the “Liens Overview” section of this guide for lien placement on a Tennessee title
    • Verify the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), by comparing with supporting documents
    • Identify and correctly transfer all title and odometer brands
    • Watch for fraud. There are security features on Tennessee’s Certificate of title (see images on the next page) designed to authenticate the document, which include:
      • Embossed Logos - Are there embossed Department of Revenue stamps on the lower left and right sides on the back of the new TN Title?
      • Background “Inks” and “Patterns” appear different when scanned/copied
      • Heat sensitive patterns
      • “VOID” printed on a copied title
  • However, title tampering may occur. Below are some examples:
    • Card Stock Copy--Tennessee’s title is much thinner than card stock
    • Mileage “Doctoring”--white-out, erasures, re-writing digits
    • Strategically placed tears, stains, tears, perforations or holes
    • Scanned Version
    • “Mileage” on Odometer Section
    • Wavy Lines



State Capital Building in Background                               Heat Sensitive TN State Seal






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