What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?
The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.
Before moving to Tennessee, the state that issued your protection order may already have entered your order into the NCIC. If not, your order may be entered into the NCIC once your order is registered inTennessee.
All law enforcement officials have access to the NCIC database, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.
How do I register my protection order in Tennessee?
To register in Tennessee, you must:
- Go to the Clerk at the local County Courthouse. See the TN Courthouse Locations page for courthouse address and phone numbers.
- Bring a certified copy of your protection order. If you do not have a certified copy, call the court that issued you the protection order and request one.
- If you cannot get a certified copy, the Tennessee court where you are registering the order will call the court that issued your order and request that one be faxed over.
- For more information about filing for a protection order in Tennessee, see the TN Protection Orders for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking page.
- Bring any other documents that were given to you with your protection order, especially if those documents are necessary for your protection order to be valid.
- Make sure your protection order is valid: the expiration date is not passed, it was properly issued by a court with jurisdiction, it is signed, and the abuser knew of the hearing.1
Note: There is no charge for registering the protection order, and the clerk will file the order as though it is a case.
If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Tennessee for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area on our TN Places that Help page.
1 TN ST § 36-3-622(c)
Do I have to register my protection order in Tennessee in order to get it enforced?
No. As long as the protection order is still in effect, the courts of Tennessee will enforce the protection order as though it was issued in Tennessee.1
In addition, Tennessee law enforcement officers are supposed to enforce an out of state order (whether or not it is registered) as long as the order looks real to the officer. This is known as a “presumption of validity.”2
1 TN ST § 36-3-622(b)(2)
2 TN ST § 36-3-622(b)(1)
Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?
Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1 However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.
However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to. It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living. We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page. You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our TN Advocates and Shelters page.
1 18 USC § 2265(d)
What if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?
Maybe. Federal law and Tennessee state law clearly say that an out of state protection order does not need to be registered in order to be enforced. As long as the protection order appears real to the law enforcement officer, it should be enforced.1
However, when the protection order is registered, Tennessee courts, dispatchers and law enforcement officers can easily check that the order is valid (real), which may make the process of enforcement quicker and easier.2
Note: If the protection order is from one of the Project Passport states, it should be easier for the sheriff or officer to recognize it as a valid (real) order, and it may be less important for your order to be registered. For more information on the Project Passport states, see Do I need anything special to get my protection order enforced in another state?
If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Tennessee. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in Tennessee, go to our TN Advocates and Shelters page.
1 TN ST § 36-3-622(b)(1)
2 TN ST § 36-3-622(e)
Does it cost anything to register my protection order?
No. There are no fees for registering your protection order in Tennessee.1
1 TN ST § 36-3-622(c)