Safe at Home Participants

Below you will find helpful information for current Program Participants. If your questions are not answered here, please consult your Participant Handbook or contact the Safe At Home Program directly. 

Once an applicant has been approved for program participation, the Safe At Home Program will issue to the participant a letter confirming your Program Participation, a Program Authorization Card, a unique substitute address, and a participant identification number. The Safe At Home Program will also provide the participant with additional instructions and documentation required by law.

The Substitute Address

Once a substitute address has been assigned, the Safe At Home Program will accept all first class and certified mail received at the substitute address. The Safe At Home Program will also accept all service of process directed to the program participant. When mail or other documents are received, the Safe At Home Program will forward those materials to the program participant at their designated mailing address.

The Safe At Home Program will not accept packages or other boxes, unless clearly marked as sent from a state or local government agency. The Safe At Home Program will not accept or forward magazines, catalogs, or other advertising materials (i.e., junk mail). Participants should not attempt use the substitute address for receipt of perishable or fragile materials or controlled substances – these packages may be refused and returned to the sender at the Office of the Secretary of State’s sole discretion.

When Can the Substitute Address be Used?

  • Whenever a program participant is required by law to swear to or affirm the participant’s address, the participant may use the participant’s substitute address. For example, the substitute address can be used to apply for TennCare Medicaid, CoverKids, Families First, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. T.C.A. §§ 40-38-602, 606.
  • Wherever a program participant is required by law to establish residency, the participant may use the participant’s substitute address. For example, the substitute address may be provided to a public school. School officials must contact the Office of the Secretary of State to verify that you reside within the school district and your child is eligible to enroll in that public school. T.C.A. §§ 40-38-602, 606.
  • The substitute address may be used for motor vehicle records and may be printed on a drivers license. T.C.A. § 40-38-602.
  • The substitute address may also be used as your official mailing address for all public utilities and utility service providers. T.C.A. §§ 40-38-602, 606.
  • Participants may also request that private entities use the substitute address, although they are not required to do so. For example, you might request that your bank or your employer use the substitute address for all official mail.

Note that, in many cases, you may be required to provide proof of program participation before the substitute address is accepted.

When can the Substitute Address NOT be used?

  • When listing, appraising, or assessing property taxes;
  • When collecting property taxes;
  • On any document related to real property recorded with a county clerk or recorder.

Note: Federal government agencies are NOT required to accept the substitute address as a program participant’s residential address, but may accept the substitute address as the participant’s official mailing address. For example, if a Participant submits an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), through the Social Security Administration, the Participant may be required to verify their residency in the State of Tennessee by providing their actual residential address.

What Steps Can a Participant Take to Ensure That Their Confidential Address is Kept Secret?

  • Participants should always use the substitute address when interacting with a state or local government entity, whether on their own behalf or on behalf of their children. Participants should never disclose their confidential address, unless required by law to do so.
  • Participants should always notify the state or local government official or entity with whom they are interacting that they are a program participant and that their residential address is confidential.
  • Participants should always be prepared to provide officials with a copy of their program participation certificate.
  • If a Participant has filed paperwork with a state or local government entity using their confidential address within 30 days prior to their application for program participation, the participant should immediately contact the state or local agency to notify them of the Participant’s participation certification, provide a copy of the Participant’s Certificate of Program Participation, and request that the participant’s confidential address be protected.
  • If a Participant is asked to verify their residential address for purposes of enrolling either themselves or their minor children in a public school, the Participant should provide the school with a copy of their Certificate of Program Participation and your substitute address. Then, direct school officials to contact the Office of the Secretary of State for further verifications in accordance with T.C.A. §§ 40-38-602, 606.
  • Participants should provide their Public Utility Service Providers (electric, water, and gas, etc.) with a copy of their Certificate of Program Participation and their substitute address, and then request that the Public Utility Service Provider keep their residential address confidential. These requests should be presented to the Public Utility Service Provider’s records custodian.

What can a Participant do if they receive a Jury Summons?

  • Program participants are exempt from selection for state and municipal jury duty. If a program participant receives a jury summons for either state or municipal jury duty, the Participant must notify the summoning court of the participant’s exempt status and provide a copy of the Participant’s Certificate of Program Participation, if requested. Participants may not fail to respond to a jury summons. 

How can a Participant Register to Vote? 

At the time that you submitted your application for program participation, you should have also submitted a new voter registration. If you did this, you are already registered to vote and the Coordinator of Elections or the Administrator of Elections in your county will provide you with instructions on how to vote prior to each election in which you are eligible to vote. If you did not complete a voter registration at the time of your application, you can submit a voter registration form to the Office of the Secretary of State or the Safe at Home Program. 

Do not register to vote or update your voter registration records at a Driver’s License Examination Facility (DMV), the Department of Safety, or a County Clerk’s Office, during a Voter Registration Drive, or at any state public assistance agency. Do not use the Online Voter Registration System to make changes to your current voter registration record. If at any time you are asked to update your voter registration with any entity other than the SAH Program, you should decline or “opt out” of the requested update. The SAH Program will ensure that your voter registration stays up-to-date based on the information that you provide to the SAH Program. 

Program Participants should not attempt to vote in person at the local polling place, as Safe At Home Program Participants are permitted to vote by absentee ballot. If you attempt to vote in person, you risk exposing your confidential information to election officials and the general public. 

If you have questions about registering to vote or voting as a SAH Program participant, contact the SAH Program for additional information. The SAH Program will coordinate with the Division of Elections to be sure that your voter registration is accurate. 

 

Program Participants are also required to update their contact and application information with the Safe At Home Program any time that any change occurs. Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of program participation.