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No, you do not have to be told that 'In God We Trust' is an option on new TN license plates

The new license plates are the first official redesign since 2006. The phrase "In God We Trust" was first introduced as an option in 2017.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There continues to be confusion with the newly designed Tennessee license plates, a design approved following a vote by more than 300,000 Tennesseans last year. 

So, we are here to clear up the confusion, specifically one detail connected to the new plates.


ABC24 viewer Brenda Thomas asked us: Does the (state of Tennessee) have to inform people that they can add 'In God we Trust' on car plates?


The Tennessee Department of Revenue

Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert



This is false.

No, the state of Tennessee does not have to inform you that "In God We Trust" can be added to your license plate but in Shelby County, drivers are asked in person if they want 'In God We Trust' on their new plate. 


The TDR's website said drivers who had the previous “In God We Trust” green mountain plates will receive “In God We Trust” plates.

However, drivers can change their plate design during the renewal process by making the request in person at their county clerk's office or noting it on their mail-in form.

"Because they are such a large request for the 'In God We Trust', we've now had to put special orders into the state of Tennessee just to keep them on site," Halbert said.

The Shelby County Clerk said she recently told staff at all locations to notify every customer getting new plates of their options, with each shown side by side.

"We have seen a host of customers who are interested in getting an 'In God We Trust' placard or one without the words 'In God We Trust', so internally, we'd rather notify the customers they are available," Halbert added.

She said anyone in Shelby County who already has their new plate but wants a different version can exchange them in person, free of charge.

"We don't want to cause the customer any confusion or to not be happy with the services, so that is our primary reason for making sure you know there is an option," Halbert said.

In Tennessee, the optional 'In God We Trust' phrase on license plates has existed since 2017 and it's free. However, the 'In God We Trust' phrase is not offered on specialty plates.

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