Find Vehicle Owner by License Plate (Free) [5 Ways]

Have you witnessed a hit-and-run or seen a car that is illegally parked? If you noted its license plate number, you could find the owner of the vehicle. There are ways you can find a vehicle owner by license plate for free. 

5 ways to find a vehicle owner by license plate for free, are as follows:

  1. Look at the clues on the license plate.
  2. Use the VIN of the vehicle.
  3. Report the license plate to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  4. Report the license plate to the police.
  5. Report the license plate to your insurance company.

You can track the vehicle owner by using the license plate if your reason is legit and you are authorized to do it. There are many legitimate reasons why someone needs to track a vehicle that they don’t know. For example, the vehicle is parked illegally on private property or used for criminal activity.

If you bring the license plate number to the Department of Motor Vehicles, you will have a good chance of tracking down the owner or driver of the vehicle. The DMV is authorized to run license plate number lookups. They have the records of all registered license plates and driver records. 

Read on to learn more about tracking a vehicle for free using only its license plate number, the many ways of doing it, and the requirements before you can track down the vehicle.

Find Vehicle Owner by License Plate (Free)

find vehicle owner by license plate free

Tracking down a vehicle for free is possible knowing only its license plate number. You can do this as long as your purpose of tracking it down is legitimate and authorized.

See the below 5 free ways to find the owner of the vehicle with the license plate:

1. Look at Clues on the License Plate

The license plate itself will already give you some clues about the owner, especially if it is a personalized one. If it is a personalized license plate, it will bear the name of a business or an organization. 

Armed with this information, you can go to the DMV of your state and start the tracking. You can ask the DMV to use the clues you found from the license plate to track down the vehicle owner, provided you have a legitimate reason for asking.

2. Use the VIN of the Vehicle

Another way you can track down the owner of a vehicle is by using its VIN. There’s a link between the license plates of cars and their VINs. They are available to the public because they are in the public vehicle records.

More than 268 million vehicles are registered in the United States, and you can search every single one of them through their public records. You can use two free research sources to get the information that you need from these vehicles.

These two free sources are:

All you need to do is enter the questionable vehicle’s license plate, and you will get its vehicle history report. The first resource regularly gathers vehicle information linked to a license plate number or VIN. 

They utilize large auto industry, government, and non-profit sources to update and complete vehicle information. This database is searchable and is easily accessible to anyone as long as their purpose of tracing is legitimate and reasonable.

3. Report the License Plate to the Department of Motor Vehicles

Another way of tracking the vehicle owner without incurring any expense is by asking the help of the DMV in your particular state. They can give you the necessary assistance to complete the tracking.

Here are the steps that you need to follow if you choose to use the DM:

  • Visit the DMV of your state and provide them the license plate number of the vehicle. 
  • Talk to an agent and explain to them the reason why you are doing the vehicle tracking. If they find that you have a legitimate reason, they will provide the help that you need. 
  • The agent will ask you for your name for this purpose.

The DMV of each state assigns the registration number or license plate to a vehicle during registration. This is a unique number that is surface-printed or embossed on a plastic or metal plate. 

This plate is mounted either on the front and rear or only at the vehicle’s rear to identify a vehicle easily. Every state has its own distinct plate color, logo, and format of registration numbers for their license plates.

Finding the owner of the vehicle could be difficult if the license plate originated from a faraway state. You can send them an email indicating your request. But you may need to wait for weeks or even months before they give the result.

4. Report the License Plate to the Police

If a car has run you over and sped away and escaped but you only managed to get its license plate, you can still find its owner or driver through your own sleuthing. This isn’t easy, but it’s possible to do this.

Here’s how you can do it:

Prove Your Reason Is Legit

For the reason of privacy laws, you can’t get information about another person without a legitimate reason. Government authorities restrict such information if it involves information about owners of registered vehicles

So, you will need to prove that your reason is legitimate. And what are the acceptable reasons?

  • The vehicle you are tracking is in an accident, a hit-and-run, a crime, or similar situations.
  • You are researching to show statistics on vehicle ownership
  • It’s a part of your job as an insurance agent or as a person in charge of impounding or towing vehicles.

Please be aware that giving a false reason or false information to get this private information from the government may result in fines or even jail time. So be sure that your reasons are legitimate before requesting this information.

Call the Police

If you have witnessed a hit-and-run, or if you think knowing the vehicle owner is a public safety concern, you can call the police for assistance. You can use their resources to track the vehicle owner. 

If they do not show you the information, at least you have done your part so that they could apprehend the suspect. This method is also useful in cases where a vehicle is illegally parked in front of your house or business, blocking your access. The police can contact the owner so that they can get the vehicle out of your way. 

If there is an accident or a crime, report the incident to the police authorities. For instance, if you hit a car parked on the side of the road, and its driver is not around, you should inform the police. They will search their database to identify the owner.

The police will also do the same, especially if you are reporting a crime committed with the aid of a vehicle. But you should really have a legitimate reason to request for the lookup. If you don’t, they won’t share the information with you. But if you are planning to file a lawsuit against the offending vehicle owner, the police will be more willing to share this information. 

5. Report the License Plate to Your Insurance Company

If another car damaged your car or your property, file an insurance claim. Insurance companies have resources that they can use to find the name of the offending vehicle owner. 

Provided the insurance company honors your claim, they will be the ones responsible for locating and sue the vehicle owner. It really depends on what will happen. You may not even have to know the name of the owner of the vehicle.

So how to find a vehicle owner by license plate? Five free ways to find a vehicle owner by license plate are to look at clues on the license plate, use the VIN, report it to the DMV, report it to the police, report it to your insurer. To have the police, DMV, or insurer look up the owner, you must have a legitimate reason, such as hit-and-run or illegal parking.

Information You Can Get from a Free License Plate Search

find vehicle owner by license plate

If you know the license plate of a vehicle, you will also be able to get the following information: 

  • Vehicle history report
  • Specifications
  • Market value
  • Warranty or manufacturer recall
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Possible theft and auto fraud indicators include its odometer reading, salvage or total loss history, brand history, and title history.

Authorized Reasons to Look Up a Vehicle Owner by the License Plate

Again, you must have a legitimate reason to track down the owner of a vehicle. Privacy laws of the state limit the release of this kind of information. So, if you don’t have a legitimate reason, they won’t help you track down the vehicle owner. What are these reasons?

4 reasons that authorize you to find a vehicle owner by the license plate are as follows:

  1. You are a hit-and-run victim. In this case, you need to file a police report. In most cases, the police authorities will be responsible for tracking down the criminal. While you probably won’t know the suspect’s identity, your insurance company will know when you file an insurance claim.
  2. Auto accident or a crime happened. You also need to report the incident to the police and provide them with the vehicle’s license plate number. 
  3. Illegally parked car on your property. You want to remove it, but you don’t know the owner. 
  4. Illegally parked vehicle on the road that causes heavy traffic. Or a vehicle parked at a public place where parking is not allowed. 

On the website of the concerned government agency, you will find a list of authorized reasons that will allow you to conduct a vehicle owner trace. If you visit the government agency’s official website in your state, which issues vehicle license plates, you will find these reasons. 

Paid License Plate Lookup Service

how to find vehicle owner by license plate

If you want a more convenient way of tracking down the owner of a certain vehicle, you can ask a paid license plate lookup service to do the work for you. Here are some paid services that you can consider:

1. Vehicle Data Registry

This license plate tracking service will allow you to look up criminal driving records using only the vehicle’s license plate number.

2. Search Quarry

This is a public record and US-based resource utility that you can use to reverse license plate search. You can access the vehicle owner’s identity and other vehicle details if your purpose for the search is federally approved.

3. Government Agencies

The government agencies responsible for issuing vehicle license plates can also help track down the vehicle owner’s identity. You have to pay a certain fee for your research, typically less than $50. They will require you to submit documents to back up your reason for the lookup. The fees are based on the research cost and not the usable results of the research results. 

Conclusion: Find Vehicle Owner by License Plate (Free)

It is possible to find a vehicle owner by their license plate using any of these 5 free ways:

  1. Look at the clues on the license plate.
  2. Use the VIN of the vehicle.
  3. Report the license plate to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  4. Report the license plate to the police.
  5. Report the license plate to your insurance company.

There must be a legitimate reason to find the vehicle owner by license plate using police or DMV. The reasons that authorize you to find the owner are hit-and-run, auto accident, and illegal parking.