Moving to Tennessee: Checklist & Tips

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Although Tennessee is a great place to live, there are some things you should know before moving here. 

This article will cover the important steps you’ll need to take care of when moving to Tennessee from another state. 

We’ll provide tips and details for getting a driver’s license, registering your car, finding a new insurance policy, enrolling your child in school, taking care of your state taxes, and more! 

What are some things to expect when moving to Tennessee? What are the pros and cons of living in Tennessee? What are the best parts about Tennessee? What are the worst parts about Tennessee?

How to Become a Tennessee Resident

One of the first steps to making another state your home is establishing residency in your new state. 

This will allow you to get a driver’s license, register your vehicles, and get access to local perks and discounts like Tennessee-resident access to certain parks and in-state tuition at colleges and universities.  

In general, you can establish residency in Tennessee by:

  • Renting or buying a house or apartment.
  • Being employed within Tennessee.
  • Being registered to vote in Tennessee.
  • Having a business located in Tennessee.
  • Having children who attend a Tennessee primary or secondary school.

Essentially, anything you do that demonstrates that you are in Tennessee to stay will begin to establish you as a permanent resident. 

For many tax and legal purposes, the state of Tennessee will consider you a resident if you spend more than 183 days or 6 months out of a 12-month period there. 

To receive in-state tuition, you may need to meet some other requirements depending on the institution. In addition to establishing residency with some of the criteria above, you’ll typically also need:

  • Your Tennessee driver’s license.
  • To have lived there for at least 12 months.
  • Have financial independence.

Requirements may vary by institution.

Once you make the move to Tennessee as your permanent home, you’ll typically be able to take the next big steps immediately – such as applying for a driver’s license and registering your car (more on that below).

Tennessee Moving Checklist

There’s a lot that goes into moving to a new state, and that’s after you’ve taken care of all the packing, cleaning, lifting, moving companies, rental agreements, mortgages, jobs… (the list goes on – yeah, it’s a lot!)

Well, after the fun part is taken care of, there are a few more things you’ll want to make sure you check off your list when moving to Tennessee.

We’ve detailed them for you below. The checklist includes:

  1. Updating your address.
  2. Getting your Tennessee driver’s license.
  3. Registering your car.
  4. Getting a new car insurance policy for Tennessee.
  5. Registering to vote.
  6. Getting health insurance.
  7. Getting the other insurance policies you may need.
  8. Taking care of your financial details – banks, loans, investments, etc.
  9. Enrolling your child in your new school district.
  10. Preparing for Tennessee taxes.
  11. Getting a license for your pets and finding a local veterinarian.
  12. Set up your utilities.

It might sound like a lot. But that’s one of the reasons why we created Relocalate.com – to make all the things that go along with moving much easier. 

Below, you’ll find the specific details, tips, and links to make each of those tasks a breeze. 

Before you know it, you’ll be kicking off your shoes and feeling like a Tennessee local.  

1. Update your Address with the USPS

The first step to take is updating your address with the USPS and forwarding your mail. 

Luckily, this is an easy one. You’ll need to:

  • Visit the official USPS Change-of-Address website at: https://moversguide.usps.com/mgo/disclaimer 
  • Enter your contact information.
  • Select a date to start forwarding your mail. This can be no more than 30 days prior to or 3 months after today.
  • Provide your old address and your new address.
  • Provide a credit card for the $1.05 fee to verify your identity. (If a website is asking you to pay more than this, it’s a scam – run away!)

You’ll receive a confirmation email and letter once you’ve set it up. 

After that, most of your mail pieces will automatically forward for 12 months. That should give you plenty of time to update your address with any friends, family, or businesses who still have your old address on file. 

While it’s on your mind, you should also take the time to update your address with any subscriptions you have like magazines, pet food, and meal boxes, as well as your saved address for shipping from online stores like Amazon. These types of shipments and packages will typically NOT be automatically forwarded. 

2. Transfer an Out-of-State Driver’s License to Tennessee

The next big step is surrendering your out-of-state license and applying for your Tennessee license. 

When you move to Tennessee, you’ll need to apply for a driver’s license within 30 days of moving into your new home.

To do so, you’ll need to visit your local driver’s license office and:

  • Complete an application for a new Tennessee driver’s license.
  • Provide proof of your identity and citizenship/legal presence – (this can usually be your VALID driver’s license from your previous state. 
  • Provide proof of your address and residency in Tennessee. Which typically includes 2 documents, such as:
    • Lease agreements or mortgage statements.
    • Bank statements.
    • Utility bills. 
    • Pay stubs. 
  • Pass an eye exam. 
  • Pass the driver’s license written exam. 
  • Take a new picture. 
  • Pay the application fees.

In most cases, you will not need to take the road test. So take a deep breath – you can stop worrying now. 

In Tennessee, Driver’s license transactions are handled by the Department of Safety.

For official information, online services, and to find your local office, visit their website at: https://www.tn.gov/driver-services.html

3. Register & Title your Car in Tennessee

Along with getting your Tennessee driver’s license, you’ll also need to transfer your vehicle registrations and titles to Tennessee.

When you move to Tennessee, you’ll need to register your vehicle upon establishing residency in the state.

To do so, you’ll need to:

  • Visit your local DMV office.
  • Complete an application for a new vehicle registration/title. 
  • Provide your proof of ownership documents (e.g. your previous state’s registration and title).
  • Pay the registration fees and taxes. 
  • Pass any required VIN inspections, vehicle safety inspections, and emissions tests. 

After that, you’ll be able to swap out your old license plates for your brand new Tennessee plates. 

Be sure to check with your old state’s DMV to see if you’ll need to send back your license plates. 

While you’re at it, it’s also worth submitting a Change of Address notification to your old state DMV to inform them that your vehicle is no longer registered there. Alternatively, you can typically let them know if they send you another renewal notice.

In Tennessee, vehicle registration and title transactions are handled by the Department of Revenue, or DOR.

For official information, online services, and to find your local office, visit their website at: https://www.tn.gov/revenue/title-and-registration.html

4. Update your Car Insurance Policy

One more thing to do with your car when moving is updating your insurance policy

Each state has slightly different requirements when it comes to car insurance. 

Which means, your old policy may not cut it or cover you if you get into an accident in Tennessee. You are required to hold a car insurance policy for the Tennessee in which you live and drive your vehicle.

In Tennessee, the minimum car insurance requirements are:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $15,000 property damage liability per accident

Depending on your driving habits, the drivers listed on your policy, and the type of car you drive, you’ll probably want to opt for some additional coverage beyond the minimums

Hold on there – it’s not as bad as it seems. This is actually a really great opportunity to compare quotes and save money

In general, you should schedule your new policy to kick in once you’ll start driving in your new state permanently. 

Once you know your moving date, shop around for quotes from different providers to see who can offer you the best rates. You can even get started here at Relocalate.com!

5. Register to Vote in Tennessee

Next up – voter registration!

Sometimes you’ll have the option of doing this when you apply for your Tennessee driver’s license or update your address. 

If not, you’ll want to make sure to register ASAP so that you’ll be eligible to vote in any upcoming elections. 

To get started on your voter registration application, find information about your local polling places, districts, and representatives, visit the official Tennessee voter website at: https://sos.tn.gov/elections

6. Update your Health Insurance and Find Healthcare Providers in Tennessee

When you move to another state, you’ll need to update your health insurance and find new healthcare providers – doctors, dentists, optometrists, oh my!

Moving to a different state qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period. This means that you’re able to change and update your health insurance plan outside of Open Enrollment. 

If you haven’t already done so through your employer, you can search for and update your health insurance coverage on the official Tennessee health insurance website at: https://www.healthcare.gov/

You may also want to check in with your current doctors about getting copies of your medical records or finding out what will need to be done to get your records to your new providers.

7. Update Any Other Insurance Policies

More insurance… yeah, it’s a lot. But, when you need it, you’ll be glad you have it. 

Along with your car insurance policy and health coverage, you’ll also want to be sure to compare quotes and update any other policies you had or will need, including:

As with your car insurance policy, it’s definitely worth comparing quotes to get the best rates before you switch. 

Plus, if you need different policies, you may be able to get a deal when you bundle. This is a great way to save some serious cash – which is always a plus during a move. 

8. Update Any Banking, Loan, and Financial Information

Next up – and highly important – is your finances. 

When you move, you’ll definitely want to make sure to update your address with your:

  • Bank. 
  • Investment companies. 
  • Lenders.
  • Credit cards.

While your USPS mail forwarding will send any important documents from these institutions from your new address, you should be sure to update the address they have on file as soon as possible. 

9. Find your Child’s Tennessee School District and Get them Enrolled

If you have children, you’ll want to get them ready for school. Before you move, inform your previous school district that you’ll need copies of your child’s school records and transcripts

You’ll also need to be prepared to submit your child’s vaccine records to the new school

Once you get settled, you’ll be ready with everything you need for the new school district to get them started. 

You can find out more about which Tennessee school districts you need to contact on our city-specific moving guides.

10. Get Ready to File a Tax Return in Tennessee

State Taxes – definitely not something anyone looks forward to, but an important thing to think about and prepare for when you move nonetheless. 

In Tennessee, there is no standard income tax, but there are taxes on investment income.

For more information about paying taxes and filing returns in Tennessee, please visit the official state tax website at: https://www.tn.gov/revenue/

Remember, when you move to a new state, you’ll typically need to file a state tax return for your old state as well

In most cases, your tax liability will be split between each state by the percentage of the year you spent there. Talk to a tax professional if you have questions about your specific situation. 

11. Register your Pets & Find a Veterinarian 

Don’t forget your fur babies when you move! Moving can be just as stressful and exciting for your pets as it can be for you. 

Along with making them feel comfortable during the move and in their new home, there are also a few pieces of admin you should take care of. 

First, you’ll want to check with your new city or county if you’ll need to license and register your cat, dogs, and other animals. Be prepared to submit proof of vaccinations and pay a licensing fee if a pet license is required. 

Next, you’ll want to find a local vet. Before you move, it’s also a good idea to speak with your previous veterinarian office for copies of your pet’s medical records. This can make the transition to a new office much easier. 

And while you’re at it, it’s a great time to consider a pet insurance policy to cover any emergencies and standard procedures throughout the year. 

12. Utilities

Last on the list, but certainly not least – is making sure you’ve coordinated all of your utility services. 

This includes:

  • Gas and electricity.
  • Water.
  • Trash services.
  • Internet.
  • Cable.
  • Phone services.

Before you move out, notify your current utility providers of your end of service date and pay your final bill.

Before you move into your new home, be sure to contact your local utility providers to set up an account to make sure you have service when you arrive.

What to Expect when Moving to Tennessee?

Welcome to the great state of Tennessee! It has a lot to offer everyone. 

If you’re a big country music fan, you’ve picked a good state to call home.

This is the home of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. 

Nashville has a thriving country music scene with plenty of professionals willing to show you around if you’re interested in it. 

Tennessee also has some great scenery, from rolling hills that provide breathtaking views all year long to mountain ranges that are perfect for hiking or camping. It’s got everything! With so much to offer, why not relocate your family?

Moving can be stressful, but relocating doesn’t have to be difficult. That’s why we’ve created this guide – to help you take care of all the logistics so you can start enjoying your new home state.

Read more about living in Tennessee.

Moving Guides for Every State