How to Get Tennessee Real ID? An Ultimate Guide

With Tennessee’s driver’s license centers stretching to meet the demands of REAL ID, many residents are flocking there in search of an easy process. But when you add long lines and technology problems together with this recent influx!

It’s not uncommon for people who need a REAL ID to go through more documents and hassle than they otherwise would when getting their Tennessee Driver License.

The following article will answer any questions you may have about the REAL ID program and how to get one.

What Is Real ID?

The REAL ID Act of 2005 requires states to meet certain standards for their drivers’ licenses and identification cards to be accepted. Without meeting these requirements, Federal agencies like the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will not accept them as valid forms of Identification.

From May 3, 2020, everyone must have a REAL ID license to use certain federal buildings and nuclear power plants. If you don’t have one by then, it will be too late to take this step!

REAL ID license

REAL ID driver license

Standard license

Standard driver license

Why Do You Need Real ID TN?

You don’t need a REAL ID-compliant license or identification credential to drive in Tennessee. However, if you want to upgrade your Tennessee driver’s license or identity card to a REAL ID-compliant version, there are certain reasons why you might want to do so:


Starting in May of 2023, you will need a REAL ID-compliant credential or some other form of identification to board commercial flights within the United States. This applies even if it’s just for entry into federal buildings and nuclear power plants!


With the REAL ID Act of 2005, minimum security standards have been established for license issuers and producers. These added protections will protect you from identity theft in addition to any other safety precautions already taken when obtaining or using your documents.


Residents of Tennessee are not required to obtain a REAL ID license. The choice to acquire a REAL ID credential is entirely yours.

With the implementation of REAL IDs, some travelers may need new driver’s licenses or identification cards. These documents are not required for flying domestically within America but will allow you access to federal facilities after May 3, 2023, compared with standard driver license types that don’t meet these standards.

How Can You Get a Real ID?

To get a REAL ID, you must visit one of the facilities (most probably the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security) with the required documents. Unfortunately, you cannot get a replacement driver’s license online and have it verified through them either! After being issued your first REAL ID compliant credential, you may renew online, use a Self-Service Kiosk or visit a County Clerk Office for renewal.

If you already have a Tennessee driver’s license or ID, go to:

Express Services Centers:

If you have not obtained a Tennessee driver’s license or ID previously, go to:

Real ID Requirements

You’ll need to submit the following documents:

  • A document proving your status as a United States citizen or resident alien is required.
  • You’ll need to provide documentation of your complete Social Security Number.
  • Two pieces of paperwork proving your residency or legal presence in Tennessee

You should also be ready to submit copies of any name changes that may have occurred. This might necessitate the submission of a variety of papers.

NOTE: All certificates, however, must be authentic or attested. Copies will not be accepted.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Real ID?

It will cost the same as a regular Tennessee driver’s license or identification card. If your license is set to be renewed, you will have to pay the standard renewal price of an 8-year credential.

If your credential’s validity period has passed and you want a REAL ID-compliant credential, you will be charged a duplicate fee. View the cost table here for a list of credential prices.

Tennessee Real ID Frequently Asked Questions

What is the REAL ID ACT?

The REAL ID Act passed in 2005 requires all states to meet certain standards for driver’s licenses and other identification cards. The real ID act purposes covered under this act are access into Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and commercial boarding aircraft traveling domestic flights within the U.S., but not abroad!

What is a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification (ID) card?

A Tennessee driver’s license or ID card is a REAL ID-compliant one that can be used for more than just your typical licenses and identifications. It’s important to note, though: if you don’t have an active federal identification number (i.e., social security number), then this won’t do anything!

Why might a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license be useful to me?

The REAL ID license is the only acceptable form of identification for domestic travel in some states. It’s a simple decision if you want to get on your flight with just one card or have another approved by TSA, but it can affect how easily others identify who might be traveling abroad as well–so make sure before going anywhere near an airport.