However, in the U. Finding a vehicle's registered owner using only a license plate number is possible, but can be extremely difficult. The best way to find a vehicle's registered owner using a license plate number is by contacting law enforcement or your insurance company. If you were the victim of a hit-and-run, the police can help you identify the person, and insurance companies also have ways of obtaining the owner's name.
Otherwise, only the government can access that private information. Check online to see if your reason for requesting the name is applicable, then fill out the DMV's request form to start the process. For information about using a private investigator, read on!
How Do You Look up License Plate Numbers?
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. 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.
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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.
Previous General-Issue Plate Designs
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.
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The request form requires you to provide information about yourself and the reason you are requesting the information. 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. Receive the results of your request. In some cases you may get results from your request immediately. Typically, though, the agency will need some time to process your request and will mail you the results. Once you get the information, you may have to do additional research.
For example, you may get the registered owner's first and last name, but not their address. You may be able to find a last known address or phone number for the person by doing a search online of their name. Report auto accidents or crimes to the police. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, or if you witnessed a crime or auto accident, let local law enforcement handle it. They can track down the owner of the vehicle for you. Method 3.
Public Information Act Requests
Look for a private investigator online. A basic online search will produce web pages of local private investigators as well as investigators who work entirely online. Compare the offerings on these web pages and see if something will work for you. If the page advertises a licensed investigator, you can check that license's status with the state or local agency that issued the license.
Web searches can be particularly useful if the license plate was issued in a place far from you. Look for someone based there for best results. Try an online search service. There are many online services that will comb through public records to find the person who was issued a particular license plate. However, most of these services charge fees and may not deliver the results you need.
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