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Regular (Class D) Tennessee Driver License

What is a Class D License?

A Class D License is a regular driver license and is required to operate a passenger vehicle.

A Class D vehicle is defined as any vehicle, or any combination of vehicles, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or less, as long as:

  1. The vehicle is not used for the purpose of transporting hazardous materials which are required by law to be placarded.
  2. The vehicle is not used to transport more than fifteen passengers including the driver, or
  3. The vehicle is not a school bus used to transport children to and from school for compensation.

Generally speaking, the majority of applicants for a Tennessee driver license will be operators of regular passenger vehicles, pick-up trucks, or vans. The Driver License Manual is designed to provide the information you need to get a Class D license.

If the vehicle is used for any of these purposes, the driver is required to obtain a Commercial Driver License.

Instructions for new or returning Tennessee resident

New residents and returning residents who need to exchange the license from their former state of residence must present:

  • Your current license (or certified copy of driving record or other acceptable ID).
    (The certified copy of your driving record, known as a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR), must be an original (no photocopies) and issued no more than 30 days prior to your Tennessee application date.)
  • Proof of name change, such as original certified court order, marriage certificate, or divorce decree.
  • Two Proofs of Tennessee Residency with your name and resident address - NO P.O. BOXES (Documents must be current. Must be dated within last 4 months.)
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship, Lawful Permanent Resident Status or Proof of authorized stay or temporary legal presence in the United States
  • A Social Security Number or sworn affidavit if no Social Security number has been issued.
  • All new or returning residents must take a Tennessee vision screening at the driver service center. There are certain exceptions for commercial driver license holders.
  • New or returning residents whose out of state license has been expired for more than six months must take the Tennessee knowledge test, road skills test, and vision screening.
  • All new or returning residents must surrender their out-of-state license at time of application for Tennessee license. Tennessee law does not allow a resident of this state to hold more than one valid driver license or ID (only foreign country licenses/IDs may be retained).

PLEASE NOTE: All documents are subject to verification with the issuing agency or source. Documents subject to further verification may delay the issuance of your permit, driver license, or identification only license.

No photocopies will be accepted!

What documents will you need to bring?

PLEASE NOTE: All documents are subject to verification with the issuing agency or source. Documents subject to verification may delay the issuance of your permit, driver license or identification only license.

No photocopies will be accepted!

For a Regular Class D Driver License you will need:

If you are under eighteen (18) years of age you will need the above documents plus:

Additional Requirements

To obtain a Tennessee Driver License for the first time when an applicant is under the age of 18, proof of prior driving experience is required. The applicant must either:

  1. Obtain a learner permit for at least six (6) months (180 days)
    -OR-
  2. Have been licensed to drive in another state for at least 90 days.

Applicants not yet eighteen years old must have an adult sign a Minor/Teen-age Affidavit and Cancellation form, which can be picked up at any driver license station or downloaded in Adobe PDF format..

Who is not eligible?

  • Anyone whose license is currently suspended or revoked in Tennessee or any other state.
  • Anyone the Commissioner has reason to believe would be unable to operate a motor vehicle safely because of mental or physical disabilities.
  • Anyone who has been proven to be a habitual drunkard or who is addicted to the use of narcotics.
  • Anyone required to show proof of financial responsibility and has not yet done so.
  • Anyone under the age of 18 who has dropped out of school before graduating, or who does not make "satisfactory progress" in school.
  • Anyone who is not a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident will not qualify for the issuance of a driver license or identification only license.

Who is not required to have a driver license?

  • Operators of any road machinery, farm tractor, or implement of husbandry that is temporarily operated or moved on a highway.
  • Non-residents who have in their immediate possession a valid driver license issued by their home state or country, equivalent to the appropriate class or type of Tennessee license.
  • Individuals who are not U.S. citizens and who, in connection with their employment in managerial or technical positions in Tennessee, may operate vehicles with a valid driver license issued by another state, country, or international body for a period of six (6) months.
  • Students pursuing an approved driver training course in a public or private secondary school, or in a licensed commercial driver training school for passenger vehicles, when accompanied by a certified instructor.

Where do you go to get your license?

Download the Driver License Manual

The Comprehensive Driver License Manual is designed for all current and potential drivers in Tennessee and will help new and old drivers alike get ready for initial, renewal, and other license applications by explaining:

  • the different types of licenses available
  • the documentation and other requirements for license applications
  • details on Intermediate Driver Licenses and how this graduated driver license works for driver license applicants under age 18
  • basic descriptions of the tests required for a Driver License

It also includes information needed to pass the knowledge tests for a Class D Tennessee driver license.