Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 67-1-1802, 55-4-101, 55-4-207, 55-6-102


The law provides for refund in instances of erroneous or illegal collection on the part of the County Clerk or the Vehicle Services Division. There is no provision in the law for a refund to be issued for the unused portion of a registration.

Refunds will be allowed to the county clerk for a dishonored check which represents the state tax, license or fee due to the State regardless of the total amount of the check. A refund of registration fees that falls within one of the statutory causes outlined below may only be made to the person in whose name the certificate of registration was issued. A motor vehicle dealer that has secured a power of attorney from its customer to register a motor vehicle in the customer’s name and has paid the registration fees and purchased a license plate and/or decal only if:

  • The refund claim falls within one of the statutory causes outlined below; and
  • The motor vehicle dealer presents a power of attorney, executed by the person in whose name the vehicle’s registration certificate was issued, that specifically authorizes the dealer to obtain a refund of the registration fees paid; and
  • The vehicle’s registration certificate, license plate and decal purchased are returned to the Department of Revenue or the county clerk.


Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 55-6-102 and 55-4-101(h)(1) provide the following causes under which the fee paid for registration of a motor vehicle may be refunded.

  • When an application for registration is refused or rejected by the Department of Revenue or the county clerk, the registration fee paid may be refunded.
  • If the Department of Revenue or the county clerk erroneously collects a registration fee that is not required to be paid, the fee may be refunded if a claim for refund is made within six months from the date of payment.
  • If the Department of Revenue declines to issue a certificate of title, but the motor vehicle has already been registered, a refund may be made within five (5) days from the applicant’s receipt of a formal notice of the application’s rejection. The certificate of registration and license plate issued must be surrendered to the issuing county clerk. However, no refund is available for a license plate provided without cost to an employee of a governmental entity, the cost being paid by the
    governmental entity under Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-4-207.
  • If a commercial carrier, operating only in Tennessee, obtains a county registration certificate and license plate, and later purchases an apportioned registration plate for operation in another state, a refund or credit can be given. The refund or credit can be given for the amount of time left on the Tennessee county plate, less $10.00 (the clerks’ fee).
  • The dishonored check written to the county clerk must show that is was returned by the third business day after receipt, that it was returned unpaid by the bank on which it was drawn, that it was subsequently re-deposited by the third business day after its return and that it was returned unpaid for the second time.
  • The county clerk must initiate civil action to recover the amount of any dishonored check or money order within thirty (30) calendar days after the second or final return of the dishonored check or money order. If prior to the initiation of the civil action, it is deemed advisable to send a second notice to the registrant prior of the civil action, such notice must be mailed not later than the fourth (4th) business day after final return of the check or money order and notice must include a limitation period for response not to exceed fifteen (15) days. If such notice does not result in recovery, civil action must be initiated within ten (10) calendar days after expiration of the period specified in the notice.
  • A copy of the tax, license or fee document for which the dishonored check or money order was tendered.
  • A copy of the fifteen (15) day notice, if any.
  • A copy of the documents initiation civil action by the municipal or county officer, along with the results by the civil action.
  • A copy of the dishonored check or money order
  • The registration plate or privilege license and /or copies of the receipt for state taxes.

 The following three situations do not qualify for refunds:
1. A dealer registers a motor vehicle in the name of its customer, but for whatever reason, the sale does not go through.
2. A dealer register a motor vehicle in the name of its customer, but the customer returns the vehicle to the dealer for a refund or credit. No refund is authorized, even if the refund or credit given by the dealer includes the fees paid to register the vehicle in the customer’s name.
3. A dealer sells a motor vehicle, but for whatever reason, the dealer repossesses the vehicle.


The registrant should willfully return the plate to the clerk’s office. If a registration plate or license cannot be retrieved because the registrant cannot be located, a statement to this effect must accompany the claim. If the taxpayer resides outside the county where the dishonored check or money order was tendered, all available information known to the county or municipal officer concerning such taxpayer should be furnished.  

A claim for refund for a dishonored check will be denied unless filed with the Department of Revenue within twelve (12) months from date of civil action was initiated. If filing for a sales tax and title and registration refund, two (2) separate request for refund forms should be completed, one for the sales tax and one for title and/or registration fees. 

Report of Debts is required for all claims filed wherein the amount is $200.00 or more for each entity.


The customer should complete a Claim for Refund form.  

All refund claims must be submitted to the Department within three years of December 31 of the year in which the tax was paid.  If the claim is for more than $200, a Report of Debts form must be submitted with the claim for refund. 

The claim should include the following:

  • all reasons why you believe the refund is due,
  • the amount requested,
  • the tax period,
  • the date the tax was paid,
  • the tax type (i.e. registration fee, title fee, etc.) and
  • any other supporting information that will assist the Department in determining whether the refund should be granted. 

For customers wishing to request a refund for EIVS fees paid, the Insurance Coverage Failure Fee Refund Application must be submitted along with proof of payment, and proof of financial responsibility for the assessed registration period via email to, or via postal mail to: Vehicle Services Division, Attn: EIVS, 500 Deaderick St, Nashville, TN 37242


Manager: Nena Pace (615) 532-6462

Motor Vehicle Registration (Tag) Refunds:
Von Griffin, Auditor (615) 534-6488
Galen Gray, Auditor (615) 770-1952
Ruby Anderson, Supervisor (615) 532-6380

Refunds for Overpaid Sales Tax on Auto/Boat/Other:
Greg Novak, Auditor (615) 532-8248
Evgheni Cuzmin, Auditor (615) 532-6928
Linda Pierce, Supervisor (615) 741-0063

  • Please contact Auditors and have the VIN and registration information when inquiring about registration refunds.
  • Reminder – the Department is not authorized to issue refunds for partially used registration renewals. Once a tag has been put in use, it is no longer refundable unless it was originally issued in error.




Have more questions? Submit a request


Please sign in to leave a comment.