How to find car by license plate

For information about using a private investigator, read on! This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Together, they cited information from 19 references. Categories: Car Identification and Registration.

Learn why people trust wikiHow. Learn more Method 1. Identify the reason you need to find the owner. Most governments restrict access to information about registered owners of vehicles for privacy reasons. Contact law enforcement. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, or if finding the vehicle's registered owner is a matter of public safety, call on local police to assist you.

They have more resources to track down the owner.

How Do You Look up License Plate Numbers?

For example, if someone abandoned a car in the parking lot of your business, the police could help you contact the owner to remove the vehicle from your property. Find out as much as you can on your own. If all you have is a license plate number, it can be extremely difficult to find out the name of the owner. More information gives you a greater chance of success. Do an image search online to narrow down the car's year. From the plate itself, you can figure out the state that issued the plate, and maybe even the city or county where it was registered.

You also can find out whether the tag has expired. Talk to your insurance company. If the driver was responsible for damage to your vehicle or your property, you need to file an insurance claim. Insurance claims agents have additional resources to locate the driver of the vehicle. Depending on the outcome, you may never have any reason to learn the driver's identity yourself.

Try to find out the vehicle identification number VIN. In some places, you must have the VIN as well as the tag number to get any information at all about the registered owner. This helps prevent false identification. You may get results for both the VIN number and the plate number. You also can look for information by looking up the car's VIN.

You may have to pay a fee for a VIN report, but it can give you additional information about the owner although you may not be able to find out their name. Method 2. Locate the government office in charge of registering motor vehicles. If vehicles have license plates, there is a government agency that issues those plates and tracks them.

The rules regarding who can access that information depend on the country, state, or province that issued the license plate. If you have to send your request through the mail, expect it to take weeks if not months to get a result. Review authorized reasons for accessing information. Privacy laws protect drivers by only allowing certain information to be shown under limited circumstances.

The allowed reasons vary depending on the state that issued the license plate. Look for the official website of the government agency that issued the license plate. If you can't find the information online, you can always call a motor vehicles agency office and ask. Explain that you want to find a vehicle's registered owner and the only information you have is a license plate number. Tell them why, and they will tell you what they can do to help you, if anything. In some places, you won't be able to find out the name of the vehicle's registered owner for any reason, absent the owner's knowledge and permission.

Complete an information request form. The request form requires you to provide information about yourself and the reason you are requesting the information.


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  • License Plates & Registration?

If it comes with instructions, read them carefully before you start filling out the form. The more information you have, the more likely you will get a useful result. You may be able to find a copy of the form online. Look on the official website for the motor vehicles department or agency that issued the license plate. Submit all required documents and fees. Depending on the location and how you submit your form, you may be required to show proof of identity. Fees typically are based on the cost of the search, not whether any usable results are returned.

If you get results, you may have to pay additional fees for copying. These records are for online reference only and cannot be used for legal purposes, hiring, tenant screening, academic applications or security clearances. Our license plate number lookup can be accessed by anyone with a laptop, computer, tablet or smartphone that has internet access. Remember to use the information obtained from our license plate lookup responsibly. It is illegal to harass or stalk someone and you must make sure to follow the guidelines when using our license plate and vin lookup tools.

You do not need to enter a state when using our VIN lookup tool. Make sure to enter all the numbers and letters carefully, one misplaced or missing variable can cause the VIN number lookup to fail. A tag plate number search is synonymous with a license plate number search.

License Plate Lookup | Search for Free

Often times tag plate number is what people are looking for which is British in origin, where a license plate number is an American term in origin. So tag plate number and license plate number are the same thing. In either case you can perform a tag plate number search with the license plate number and state of registration. Every vehicle that is registered in the United States has a tag plate number as well as a VIN number, which are the key identifiable numbers that both describe the vehicle specs and vehicle registration information.

It is possible to sometimes find limited license plate owner information online, as other relevant vehicle information that can be helpful in understanding your vehicle better, or when purchasing a used vehicle from someone. Remember to use the information you obtain in our license plate lookup responsibly and it is illegal to harass or intimidate anyone with the information you find.

Most states have their own distinctive color scheme, logo, and registration number format for license plates. The Washington, D.

How to use our free vehicle check

We tap into a vast network of government, auto industry and non-profit sources. By making this database searchable, we give you free access to one of the most complete sources of vehicle information.

In some cases, our free license plate lookup may pull up records for more than one vehicle.

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