State To Issue New Driver Licenses, ID Cards

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NASHVILLE — Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons on Tuesday announced the state will soon issue new and improved driver licenses and identification cards.

The new license and its updated security features will help combat document fraud and protect the identities of Tennesseans by using the latest credentialing technology.  This is the first major revision of Tennessee driver licenses and ID cards since 2003.  

“A top priority of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security is safeguarding the identity of Tennessee citizens to prevent identity theft and document fraud,” said Commissioner Gibbons.  “The new cards will be the most secure our state has issued to date.”

All current Tennessee licenses and IDs will remain valid until the expiration date; at that time, license holders will apply for a newly-designed card. New card production began on a pilot basis on Tuesday, March 15 in Gallatin.

The new cards will begin to roll out across the state starting at driver license stations in the four metropolitan areas (Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, and Shelby Counties) later this month. Statewide implementation of the new card is expected to be completed at all locations within four to six weeks.

“Tennessee driver licenses have not been updated in eight years, and the technology behind them is eight years old,” Gibbons explained. “These new cards utilize the latest technology.  They are more secure and are designed to be more difficult to counterfeit, alter, or duplicate,” he stressed.

The driver license and ID cards include several upgraded design and security features, including:   

• new banner showcasing Tennessee landmarks and icons;

• new background design;

• enlarged organ donor symbol, when authorized;

• multiple date of birth placements on front and back of the card;

• vertical format to distinguish driving privilege from identification only cards;

• digital portrait and signature, both stored in a permanent database, to easily verify identification;

• lamination, with a tamper resistant coating and holographic designs;

• machine-readable barcodes for law enforcement purposes; and

• applicable class, endorsements, and restrictions printed on back of the card.

“The existing licenses are still valid. There is no need for citizens to get a new license before their existing licenses expire,” stressed Driver Services Director Michael Hogan.  “But anyone applying for a new license or renewing an existing license will receive the newly designed format,” he added.

To help protect identities and prevent document fraud, the state of Tennessee requires all new applicants for a driver license or identification card to present the following:

• proof of lawful status in the United States to include U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent residency or authorized stay in the U.S.;

• proof of identity to include birth certificate, visa, or passport;

• verification of Social Security number with Social Security Administration; and
•proof of Tennessee residency.

Fees for the new driver license and ID will not change.  The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Driver Services Division annually issues 1.5 million licenses and ID cards to Tennesseans.  For more information on the new driver license and ID card or to conduct business online, please visit

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public.  The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.  
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