Free California License Plate Lookup

Free California License Plate Lookup

A California license plate lookup is a service that allows individuals to obtain detailed information about a vehicle registered in California by searching its license plate number. The lookup provides important details about the vehicle, such as its make and model, year, registration status, and vehicle history. This information can be useful for car buyers, sellers, and dealerships, as well as for individuals who want to verify the ownership or history of a vehicle. The California license plate lookup service provided by is free and provides fast and accurate results. offers free license plate lookup and VIN number lookup services. Using a California license plate or VIN, you can get a complete vehicle history report at no cost. A vehicle history from contains:

  • Market Value
  • Vehicle Specifications
  • Equipment Details
  • Fuel Efficiency
  • Safety Rating
  • Inspection Checklist
  • Current Warranty
  • Auto Insurance
  • NMVTIS Vehicle Report

California DMV Vehicle Lookup Services

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does not offer a free license plate search or VIN search service to the general public. However, they do provide online services and online access to certain vehicle information such as:

  1. Renewal of vehicle registration
  2. Driver’s license renewal
  3. Applying for a driver’s license
  4. Requesting a duplicate driver’s license or identification card
  5. Changing address on driver’s license or vehicle registration
  6. Paying driver’s license or vehicle registration fees
  7. Checking the status of driver’s license or vehicle registration application
  8. Ordering personalized license plates
  9. Scheduling appointments for driver’s license or vehicle registration services
  10. Finding a traffic school for a citation
  11. Submitting a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability
  12. Requesting a driving record

These are just some of the services offered by the California DMV online. The full list of available services can be found on the DMV’s website.

California License Plates

California License Plate LookupCalifornia license plates are issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The state offers a variety of license plate options, including standard plates, special interest plates, and personalized plates.

Standard license plates in California have a blue and yellow design featuring the state name and the image of a bear. The plates are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle and are valid for a period of five years.

California required license plates on vehicles since 1905.  Front and rear plates are required on most types of vehicle in California, including all passenger vehicles. Exceptions to this rule are motorcycles and trailers, which only require one rear license plate. License plates are used for identification purposes and provide law enforcement a means to locate the vehicle owner through DMV records. Rear plates must have current registration sticker in order to show that they are valid.

If your license plates have been stolen, mutilated, damaged, or lost; it is your responsibility to obtain a replacement. You’ll need to submit an Application for Replacement Plates Form (REG156) either by mail or in person at one of the DMV offices.

California License Plate Sizes

Automobile, commercial, and trailer license plates are 12″ x 6″.

Motorcycle license plates issued prior to July 1, 1970, are 8″ x 5″. Those issued on or after that date are 7″ x 4″.

Identification plates issued since January 1, 1981, to vehicles not bearing automobile, commercial, trailer, or motorcycle plates are 7″ x 4″. Those issued prior to that date are 8″ x 5″.

California License Plate Validity

Plates are valid by affixing appropriate stickers or tabs. The license plates remain with the vehicle except for certain plates which may, upon request of the owner and payment of appropriate fees, be reassigned to another vehicle. These license plates are environmental (personalized), special recognition or special interest license plates.

Transferring a California License Plate

To transfer a California license plate from one vehicle to another, follow these steps:

  1. Check eligibility: To transfer a license plate, both vehicles must be registered in California, and the license plate must be in good standing. The registration must also be current, or you must renew it before transferring the license plate.
  2. Remove the license plate from the original vehicle: Remove the license plate from the original vehicle, and keep it in a safe place.
  3. Complete the transfer application: Obtain the transfer application form from the California DMV website or a local DMV office. Complete the form with the required information, including the license plate number and the vehicle information for both the original and new vehicles.
  4. Pay the transfer fee: Pay the required transfer fee, which varies depending on the type of vehicle and license plate.
  5. Submit the transfer application: Submit the transfer application and payment to the California DMV by mail or in person at a local DMV office. If submitting by mail, include a self-addressed stamped envelope to receive the new registration card and sticker.
  6. Receive new registration: After the DMV processes the transfer application, you will receive a new registration card and sticker for the new vehicle.

It’s important to note that the license plate transfer must be completed within 10 days of selling or transferring ownership of the original vehicle. Also, some special types of license plates, such as personalized or specialized plates, may have additional transfer requirements and fees.

California License Plate Renewal

To renew your license plate registration in California, follow these steps:

  1. Determine your renewal date: Check your current registration card or your DMV account to find out when your license plate registration expires.
  2. Obtain a smog check: If your vehicle is more than four years old, a smog check is required before renewing your registration. Find a licensed smog check station and obtain a smog certificate.
  3. Check your address: Make sure your address is up to date with the DMV to ensure your renewal notice is sent to the correct address.
  4. Renew your registration: There are several ways to renew your license plate registration in California. You can renew online through the DMV website, by mail, by phone, or in person at a DMV office. To renew online, go to the DMV website and follow the instructions. You will need to provide your vehicle information, smog certificate, and payment of registration fees.
  5. Receive your new registration: After submitting your renewal application and fees, you will receive a new registration card and sticker in the mail. You can also print a temporary registration from the DMV website while waiting for your new registration to arrive.

Make sure to renew your license plate registration before it expires to avoid late fees and penalties. Keep in mind that the fees for renewing your registration may vary depending on the type of vehicle, its weight, and other factors.

Vehicle Registration in California

Vehicle registration in California is a legal requirement for all vehicle owners who want to operate their vehicles on public roads. The process involves registering your car with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and obtaining license plates, registration stickers, and a registration card.

Here is a general overview of the process:

  1. Obtain a smog certificate: If the vehicle is more than four years old, a smog check is required. Visit a smog check station and obtain a smog certificate.
  2. Complete a title transfer: If you are buying or receiving a vehicle, you need to transfer the title into your name. You will need to complete the title transfer form, pay the appropriate fees, and submit it to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  3. Obtain car insurance: You must have auto insurance to register a vehicle in California. Get an insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum requirements.
  4. Complete a vehicle inspection: If the vehicle has been registered in another state, it may require a VIN verification and inspection by the DMV.
  5. Complete the registration application: Obtain the appropriate registration form and complete it with the required information, including the VIN, proof of ownership, and payment of registration fees.
  6. Pay registration fees: Pay the registration fees to the DMV. The amount of fees depends on the vehicle’s value, weight, and other factors.
  7. Receive registration and plates: After all the paperwork and fees are submitted, you will receive the registration certificate and license plates.

It’s important to note that the exact steps for registering a vehicle in California may vary depending on your specific situation. You can find more detailed information and forms on the California DMV website or visit a local DMV office for assistance.

How Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in California?

In California, it is not possible for the general public to obtain personal information of a license plate owner due to privacy laws. However, there are some ways to obtain information about a vehicle’s registered owner through legal and authorized methods:

  1. Law enforcement: Law enforcement officers have access to the DMV database and can obtain information about the registered owner of a vehicle for official purposes.
  2. Private investigator: If you have a legitimate reason, you can hire a licensed private investigator to conduct a search for the registered owner of a vehicle.
  3. DMV: The California DMV can release the owner information only in certain situations, such as a court order, subpoena, or law enforcement request.
  4. Accident report: If you were involved in an accident with the vehicle, the accident report may include the registered owner’s information.
  5. Parking enforcement: If the vehicle is parked illegally, you can contact the local parking enforcement agency, and they may be able to provide the owner’s information.

Due to federal laws, keep in mind that accessing personal information without proper authorization is illegal and can result in serious legal consequences.

More Resources for California Drivers:

Buying a used car in California?  Don’t make a costly mistake. Run a Free License Plate Lookup on your vehicle!

  1. Check for accidents. Every year, millions of automobile accidents are reported.
  2. Check for title brands. Flood, hail-damage, and salvage titles. These are examples of critical title brands.
  3. Check for special purpose designations. This includes taxi-use, rental-use, or police-use.
  4. Check for thefts. Lookup a VIN to check for an active theft or previously recovered theft record.

Uncover the full-story of your California-registered vehicle in seconds! Run a Free California License Plate Lookup now!

Enter a California License Plate: