VT-12 - The Surety Bond Process

If the department is not satisfied as to the ownership of a vehicle and there are no known liens on the vehicle, and the vehicle has not been reported as stolen, the department may register the vehicle, but as a condition of issuing a certificate of title, require the owner to complete additional steps depending on the fair market value and age of the vehicle.

Certification of Ownership vs. Surety Bond 

To obtain a certificate of title, an owner of a vehicle meeting the description above, with a fair market value of $3,000 or less, OR with a manufacture year of at least 30 years old regardless of fair market value, must complete the Certification of Ownership process as outlined using the Certification of Ownership form.

To obtain a certificate of title, an owner of a vehicle meeting the description above, with a manufacture year of less than 30 years old AND with a fair market value exceeding $3,000 must contact the department’s Special Investigation Section to begin the “surety bond process,” using the Surety Bond Application.


The Surety Bond Application must be completed and supported by the following:

  1. A Bill of Sale from the last registered owner or a notarized statement from the seller stating why the vehicle was not titled or registered in the seller's name.  

In the absence of a Bill of Sale or notarized statement from the seller, please provide:

  • For a Manufactured/Mobile Home: provide a recent written estimate of the current value of the mobile home only (that does not include any land value) or a property tax bill of the mobile home property showing separate “land” and “improvement” values (if applicable).
  • For a vehicle (car, truck, golf cart, motorcycle, camper, trailer, etc.): provide a written appraisal of your vehicle (showing its current value today) from a local licensed dealer or website such as www.kbb.com or www.nadaguides.com.
  1. Information specific to the type of bond.

                Personal Surety Bond(A surety bond written by the State of Tennessee at no additional cost to                                          the “principal” [the owner of the vehicle/mobile home])

          • A Personal Surety Bond requires the documentation listed above in section 1, and the names of two sureties (other than the principal) who own land in the State of Tennessee and who are willing to sign the Surety Bond with the principal. The two sureties must live at different addresses than each other and cannot live at the same address as the principal. The “principal” cannot be their own surety. You must furnish the complete name and physical mailing address of your two sureties on the Surety Bond Application. You must also furnish General Tax Certification (“GTC”) (tax cards) (i.e. a copy of their most recent Property Tax Bill showing their property tax information). The GTC can be obtained from org, the local tax assessor’s office or county website. The GTC is used to show proof that the land is located in Tennessee and the value of the property for each surety.

Corporate Surety Bond(A Surety Bond written or backed by a bonding or insurance company that charges a premium fee to write and back the bond for the principal; a Corporate Surety Bond does not require the signature of two sureties but requires approval by the state of Tennessee).

          • The principal must furnish the complete name and physical address of the insurance provider or bonding company who serves as guarantee of surety on the Surety Bond Application.  The principal will need to request a TN Corporate Surety Bond Form for their insurance/bonding company to use when writing a Corporate Surety Bond.  The bonding or insurance company’s attorney-in-fact must sign the Corporate Surety Bond, stamp the bond with the company’s seal and attach an original, written power of attorney, stating that they are licensed to transact Surety Bonds in the state of Tennessee, to the Corporate Surety Bond before it can be approved.

Corporate Surety Bonds can be obtained through many insurance providers. If your insurance provider does not write Corporate Surety Bonds, there are third party companies available that can assist you with finding a company to write your Corporate Surety Bond for you.



Email AddressSuretybond.title@tn.gov


  • The department checks the VIN to make sure the vehicle or mobile home has not been reported as stolen. 
  • After the application has been processed, an approval letter will be sent to the applicant advising them to complete the Multi-purpose Application at the local County Clerk’s office, apply for title and pay the appropriate fees.* State and local title and registration fees, as well as sales and use tax, may apply. The surety bond approval letter from the state is required in order to process the application for title through the office of the local County Clerk. 

* Sales tax will be charged for all mobile homes applying for a title with a Surety Bond unless you are the original or secondary owner and can provide written documentation that sales tax was paid at the time of purchase.


  • Surety Bonds cannot be written for any legally affixed mobile home. A legally affixed mobile home has an Affidavit of Affixation on file in the county register of deeds’ office. A check for a recorded Affidavit of Affixation with the county register of deed’s office will be done for all mobile homes needing a surety bond.
  • A physical address of where the manufactured/mobile home is located must be provided on all surety bond applications for mobile homes.
  • The value of the surety bond is calculated at one and one-half times the fair market value of the vehicle.
  • The state of Tennessee will only write a surety bond for any person or company that is a resident of, or has a residence or office address in, Tennessee.
  • The issued bond is maintained in a file for a period of three years. The bond may be returned at the end of the three years or prior to the three years if the vehicle is no longer registered in this state and the certificate of title has been surrendered to the department.


  • Questions regarding surety bonds: Email Suretybond.title@tn.gov
  • Questions regarding the title process after a surety bond application has been processed, including questions about mobile home de-titling: Call (615) 741-3101 or email Help@tn.gov


Not finding answers? Submit a request


Powered by Zendesk