How to Lookup a License Plate Number 

Over the last several decades, people have had to go to the DMV, get in line, and fill out some papers before getting license plate information. This is the old method of getting license plate details. But online databases have made it possible to look up license plate information online.

With just a few clicks or taps from your computer, tablet, or mobile phone, you can quickly and easily lookup any license plate number online. The results may also provide information about the vehicle’s year, manufacturer, and model if a match is found for a given license plate.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to a website that mainly offers a license plate number lookup.
  2. Input the license plate number and state using the online checker you’ll find on the site.
  3. Hit the “Search” or “Check Now” button.
  4. Get the search results in the form of a short informative report.
  5. Access the report from your mobile phone, desktop, laptop, etc.

However, some license plate searches aren’t guaranteed to return results as some restrictions apply.

Read on to learn how to look up license plate numbers and get the information you need in no time.

What Is a License Plate Lookup?

how to look up a license plate number

A license plate lookup is a process in which you enter the license plate number of a vehicle and state registration into a database, and the system returns information about that vehicle.

Similar Process to a VIN Check

License plate searches are used by law enforcement, insurance companies, private investigators, and individuals who want more information about a vehicle. The process is quite similar to a VIN check.

To perform a license plate lookup or search, you must gather all the required information, such as:

  • The vehicle’s license plate number (or VIN); or
  • Your state’s name (you can find this on your car registration card or your driver’s license).

Shows Important Vehicle Information

A used vehicle has its history, which can sometimes get you into trouble. This is why most people who want to buy a used car prefer to run a license plate search or VIN check first, so they can find out not only about the car’s title records but also its criminal history, insurance information, and more.

Illinois License Plate Lookup

Online Resources That Offer a License Plate Lookup

If you want to look up a license plate number and find all the associated information, several online services can help.

These sites allow you to search any license plate number in the United States and report back with any details that they have on file:

1. VinFreeCheck

VinFreeCheck is committed to giving you as much free information about any car. They have a lot of experience and strive to give people the most up-to-date information by searching license plate numbers or VIN.

2. VinPit

VinPit offers a free service where you can enter your license plate number or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and receive results in seconds. You can get a vehicle’s detailed history with their extensive database of more than 268 million registered vehicles in the US.

3. Search Quarry is a site for public records in the United States. It has hundreds of pages and various free tools for discussing and finding public information records.

4. FindbyPlate lets you search by license plate number and report bad drivers for free. Most of the time, the website helps identify the car and provides some basic information about it.

You could see any reports, pictures, videos, comments, or even links to related websites that other users had put up about the car.

Why Do You Need to Check a License Plate Number?

There are several reasons why people may need to do a license plate lookup. But the most common ones are:

  1. Conduct research on the used vehicle;
  2. To report a crime or accident;
  3. Find out more about a suspicious car;
  4. Report an aggressive driver; and
  5. Learn more about the vehicle’s new owner.

1. Conduct Research on the Used Vehicle

If you want to buy a second-hand car, it’s natural to want to know more about the vehicle. Was the vehicle used as loan collateral, or was it previously recalled? These are just a couple of examples. So it’s essential to check everything before making a final decision.

2. Report a Crime or Accident

Getting the license plate number and reporting it to the police is essential if you have witnessed a crime or accident. This can help authorities identify suspects and track them.

3. Find Out More About a Suspicious Car

If you have seen a suspicious vehicle or person, it is essential to note the license plate number. Also, you can use this information to report any suspicious activity to your local authorities.

4. Report an Aggressive Driver

In road rage, for example, you can use the license plate number to report an aggressive driver. This is very helpful if you want to file a police report against someone who has been driving dangerously or recklessly.

And it’s also a good idea to keep this information with you if the situation becomes violent.

5. Learn More About the Vehicle’s New Owner

After selling our cars, we sometimes want to know how it’s currently doing. This one is especially true if that car means a lot to you.

Also, there may be times when you want your old car back after a long time. You’re even willing to repurchase it, but you want to ensure its status first. In this case, use a license plate number lookup service for assistance.

Know Local Laws

Still, in some parts of the world, it is against the law for civilians to run plates, which can get you in trouble. For this reason, you should learn about your local laws before doing a license plate lookup.

Make a Formal Request to the Authorities or Get Restricted Info Online

If you need help finding a license plate number, you usually have to make a formal request to the police. But getting restricted information from online databases will be easy if you’re clear.

Again, how to look up a license plate number? You can look up a license plate in NY through the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) or other vendors that offer such a service. Some sites offer this free, while you have to pay to use the DMV tool.

What Info Can You Get from a License Plate Lookup?

how to look up license plate number owner

Basic Information

For safety reasons, the government usually limits and controls how much information can be gathered from a license plate check. Still, a license plate lookup can provide you with the following:

  • Make
  • Vehicle Model
  • Vehicle’s release year
  • The vehicle’s current market value;
  • Technical information and specifications;
  • If the vehicle is certified safe to drive;
  • The car’s fuel efficiency;
  • Available car warranty offers;
  • Information about the last time these vehicles were checked;
  • A list of any accidents that these vehicles have been in (if any); and
  • The vehicle’s total distance traveled.

Other Information

Some of the extra information you can get may also include:

  • Minor details about the owner
  • History of vehicle ownership
  • Other safety information.
  • Car manufacturer
  • Country
  • Accident or theft history
  • Recalls

What Info Can You Get from a License Plate Lookup: In Detail

Before buying a used car, it’s always best to do comprehensive research. Users can benefit from a free license plate lookup via the internet to get detailed information about a vehicle.

Here are some more things you can obtain with a license plate lookup:

1. Branded Title

According to the state agency, you’ll discover the vehicle’s official status. It will tell you that the car is safe to drive and if there are any problems with it. Also, it will show if the vehicle was written off after an accident or if it was saved.

2. Accident or Damage Report

In everyday life, cars can get into accidents or be damaged, but they can be fixed. But it’s hard to say how bad the damage is. Was the restoration done just like the manufacturer said it should be?

Repair shops with a lot of experience can restore the car. A license plate number search will show you past accidents and repairs.

3. Robbery or Theft Report

If you do a license plate check, you can find out if the car has ever been reported as “stolen.” And it can be upsetting if it says that the car is “currently stolen.” 

This makes it clear that the person selling the car is not the real owner. You will probably tell the police about it, which brings us to the next point.

4. Issues with Car Registrations

When you do a license lookup, you will see a list of all the problems with the car’s registration. The more you dig, the more you’ll find out why state authorities won’t approve the vehicle for the road.

5. Latest Car Inspection

Several vehicle checks are done to ensure it meets the government’s emission goals. For this reason, some states and other countries conduct further safety checks. But if the vehicle doesn’t meet the most basic requirements, it might not pass an inspection.

How to Do a Step-by-Step License Plate Lookup?

Are you wondering if you can get some of the information mentioned earlier without breaking the law? Fortunately, civilians can get access to certain information, like vehicle records:

1. Go to the DMV

So, if you want to track a car by its license plate number, you must go to the DMV or Department of Motor Vehicles in your state and make a formal tracking request.

But exceptions and checks are also in place to prevent people from abusing this privilege. The major one is not being able to retrieve information on the vehicle’s previous users.

2. Conduct a Reverse License Plate Search

On the other hand, the emergence of online databases has made it easy and free to find car owners by license plate number.

And it’s easy to get limited information about a car by entering its license plate number on the right online platforms. “Reverse license plate search” is the term for getting vehicle information online.

How to Do a Reverse License Plate Search Online

So, here are the general steps you can take if you want to do a reverse license plate search online and find out more about a car: 

1. Visit a Regulated Online Platform

Go to a regulated internet database to check license plates and vehicle identification numbers. Before agreeing to these platforms, read and understand their terms and conditions. This will help you avoid legal problems in the future.

In most cases, the hardest part is finding a reliable platform to use. Once you have a trustworthy website for your license plate lookup, the standard steps often apply.

2. Input the License Plate Number and State of Registration

Type in the license plate number and choose the state where the license plate was registered. Some online databases also let users search using the Vehicle Identification Number if the license plate number is unavailable.

3. Get Access to Limited User Info

Once you type in the required number and confirm it is correct, you can access limited user information. Anyone can do license plate number checks with good internet access on their phone, tablet, or computer. And the information found by these checks is only meant for use as a reference.

Is It Legal to Lookup License Plate Numbers?

It is not against the law to look up someone’s license plate. But you should know that the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act restricts the information you can get from this search.

A license plate check won’t tell you anything private about the driver or the car. Among other things, private information includes the home address and age of the car owner.

How to Lookup the Owner of a License Plate

When you do a license plate lookup, you don’t typically find out much about the plate owner. This varies from one US state to another, of course.

Since motor vehicle departments are state-run agencies, each state will have different rules about what owner information is available through a license plate search. This may include the vehicle owner’s name and contact information.

If you meet the requirements for looking up this information, you may be able to get this information upon request. Before getting information, read the license plate owner search terms and select a valid reason.

When doing a license plate lookup, you can also find out about the vehicle’s general manufacturer specifications, the VIN, history, recalls, and other safety information.

Frequently Asked Questions – License Plate Lookup

Can I Get a VIN from a License Plate Search?

If you have a vehicle’s license plate number, you can use it to look up the vehicle identification number (VIN) in many public databases.

How Do I Get My VIN to Recover Details from a License Plate Search?

You can find the VIN on the vehicle’s dashboard, engine, or door frame. If you can’t find the VIN in any of these places, you can use the vehicle’s license plate number to do a reverse lookup online.

Can I Get a Person’s Address from a License Plate Search?

License plate lookups do not typically reveal private addresses. Owner addresses are usually kept confidential.

Can I Lookup the Owner of a License Plate?

You can, and it won’t be difficult at all. Using a free online reverse license plate lookup service, you may quickly discover who owns a car without leaving your house. But you need a good reason approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies before doing it.

So if you find yourself in a particular situation where you need to look up a license plate online, know that license plate lookup websites can help.

Can I Look up a License Plate Number with a Temporary License Tag?

Since the temporary license tag already has the owner’s basic information, a simple license plate lookup would yield some results. However, doing this may require you to be physically present at the DMV in your state.

Conclusion – How to Search a License Plate Number

Knowing how to look for license plate numbers is essential, especially if you want to research your car or other used vehicles you want to report or buy. You can quickly run a license plate lookup to learn about any vehicle.

To recap, here’s how:

  1. Go to a website that mainly offers a license plate number lookup.
  2. Input the license plate number and state using the online checker you’ll find on the site.
  3. Hit the “Search” or “Check Now” button.
  4. Get the search results in the form of a short informative report.
  5. Access the report from your mobile phone, desktop, laptop, etc.

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