The Specialty License Plate Program

In Tennessee when you purchase certain specialty license plates, a portion of the proceeds supports the arts. The Specialty License Plate Program was created in the 1980’s to provide a dedicated revenue source for arts and cultural activities in the state.

A specialty license plate costs $35 each year and there are over 100 to choose from. County clerks charge an additional $1 fee for the issuance of a specialty plate. This makes the fee $36 for specialty plates and $71 for personalized specialty plates, plus the standard state registration fee and any wheel taxes imposed by local governments.

The Tennessee Arts Commission now has four license plates of their own with the addition of the new Arts plate (top left),
and 90% of the $35 directly funds the arts in communities across the state.

Specialty License Plate funding provides local arts programing for children and communities distributed through the Tennessee Arts Commission, a state agency. Last year, over 6.1 million dollars was invested in nonprofit organizations, K-12 public schools and artists across the state. Of that $6.3 million, $4.5 million was generated through the sale of specialty license plates. In a time when arts funding is shrinking, there has never been a better opportunity for art supporters to back the arts with a specialty license plate.

How to get a specialty license plate

It's simple. Just visit your local county clerk's office and ask for one. You can exchange your license plate anytime not just when your tags expire. Your fees will be prorated. You can also personalize your plate with up to 5 characters for an additional $35.
(Remember to take a screwdriver with you so you can take off your old plate)


About the new Arts plate

In 2011, Tenneseans for the Arts organized a State-Your-Plate competition and invited artists across Tennessee to submit their entries
for a new Arts license plate. Graphic designer, Leslie Haines designed the winning plate, which was inspired by the traditional printing
method of letter-press.

About the Rainbow plate

Tennessee's Rainbow plate has been on sale since February 1, 2003 and honors late Memphis artist Burton Callicott. The suggestion of honoring Callicott was made by Senator Steve Cohen of Memphis. The artist, famous for his pastel rainbow paintings, created the design for the plate.

About the Fish and Jazz Cat plate

Norris Hall designed the Fish and Jazz Cat Arts plates. He is one of the middle Tennessee’s most commissioned artists who has illustrated a kaleidoscope of whimsical characters in the form of animals and other colorful images.


Choose a specialty license plate.
It says that wherever you drive, you not only support the arts, but that you fund the arts in Tennessee


For more information, contact Suzanne Lynch, Director of Marketing and Development. 615-741-1703

For more information about Specialty License Plates