Free License Plate Lookup

What is a License Plate Lookup?

A license plate lookup or search is a way to get information about a vehicle. A more common method of getting this type of information is a VIN check, but a license plate search is also a good option, depending on the state you reside in. If the VIN is not readily available and you have the license number of the vehicle in question, you may be able to pull up a vehicle history report.

What is a License Plate Number for?

A license plate number is usually a string of some alphanumeric characters that identifies the vehicle and its owner, and indicates that the vehicle is registered with the local government. It is associated with the VIN of the vehicle in a state government-sponsored database. Individuals may request information regarding these records and whether or not information is released is typically considered on a case-by-case basis.

What Information Can I Get from a License Plate Lookup?

State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handle all types of license plate and driving records as well as information related to violations or infractions involving the vehicle in question. Some of these driving violations are felony driving offenses, misdemeanor driving offenses, or just simple infractions, which may have different definitions across states. Motor vehicle laws and regulations governing vehicle plate records and vehicle registrations vary by state. Some highway, driver and vehicle safety laws are governed by both federal and individual state laws.

Depending on what the state allows, a license plate lookup may yield the following: ownership history, manufacturer recall and safety information, whether or not it has been reported as stolen, if it has passed safety inspections, and if it has been involved in major accidents.

Where does VINCheck get the Information for License Plate Lookup?

VINCheck works with state and national government agencies to continually gather vehicle information associated with a VIN or license plate number into a large database. We then make that database searchable, giving you 100% free access to one of the most complete sources of vehicle information. Our license plate database can be accessed for free manual license plate lookups, or you can type in the license plate number to automatically search for vehicle information.

Selected State License Plate and Insurance Laws

Alaska: Anybody working or residing in Alaska must apply for registration within 10 days of entering the state or taking a job within the state. On the other hand, visitors are allowed to drive their vehicles for up to 60 days with current out-of-state car registration. The Division of Motor Vehicles under the Alaska Department of Administration issues license plate numbers with a 3-letter, 3-numeric serial format. Most less-populous states follow this format or its variants. Alaska is also one of the 31 states (and Washington D.C.) that require owners of passenger vehicles to display front and bumper license plates.

California: California has had “vanity” or personalized license plates available for decades and many jurisdictions offer these as one option in their vehicle registration process. They are often seen on cars driving on the roadways and sometimes it is a challenge to decipher the meaning of some of the more esoteric ones. People pay an extra fee for the privilege of personalizing their license plates on vehicles in this fashion but, for many, it's worth the extra expense. Vanity plates are, of course, not exclusive to California; they can be found fairly easily, especially online, in all states.

Delaware: Car owners are required to have personal injury insurance to cover costs related to injuries, death, and property damage resulting from a car accident they caused. Delaware law also requires them to have personal injury protection to cover medical costs regardless of who caused the accident. Anyone who is caught driving without the necessary insurance will be charged with a fine and their driver's license will be suspended for 6 months. If they do not want to continue paying for insurance, they must surrender their license plates to the Department of Motor Vehicles. If the owner does not surrender their license plate and the DMV conducts an audit, they face a penalty and possible charges.

Georgia: Liability insurance coverage and proof of insurance are required to register a car. However, a car insurance ID card is not accepted as proof of insurance. Government agencies, including traffic enforcers, use the Georgia Electronic Insurance Compliance System (GEICS) to electronically verify that a car owner has a valid car insurance.

Nevada: Car owners are required to obtain liability insurance from a Nevada Licensed Insurance Carrier only and keep the coverage for the entire time the vehicle is registered in the state. They must carry a Nevada Evidence of Insurance card in their vehicles at all times as a proof of auto insurance. The Nevada DMV also uses an online verification system, called Nevada LIVE, for insurance status lookup throughout the year. Nevada is one of the states that allow the holder of the original registration to transfer license plates to a new vehicle, provided that the vehicle registration has been transferred to the new vehicle and the vehicle is eligible for that class of license plates.

Ohio: The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) requires car owners to submit a signed statement that they have and will continue to have a proof of insurance while operating their vehicles. The BMV sends a notice by mail to owners of 5,400 registered vehicles per week randomly selected to provide proof of insurance. Like most states, Ohio obliges owners to have liability car insurance with the following minimums: $25,000 per person for injury or death in any one accident; $50,000 total for all persons injured in any one accident; and, $25,000 for property damage in an accident.

Maryland: To register a car, owners must sign a Maryland Insurance Certification to acknowledge that they will maintain at least the minimum car insurance requirement in the state. This insurance certification is the only proof of insurance that the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration accepts. To comply with the state’s insurance laws, car owners must have all of the following: liability coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and injury protection (personal insurance protection or no-fault) coverage.

Massachusetts: One of the special license plate types issued in the state, like most states, are vanity plates which have custom plate numbers. Car owners may choose their own unique number following the rules set by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. It must be a letter/number combination that can have up to six characters, it does not mix numbers and letters, and it must not be offensive, profane, or discriminatory. Massachusetts also offers a free license plate number lookup tool on its site for checking if the number has already been issued.