Get Started By Checking Your State Vehicle Registry
One option is to go to the state vehicle registry yourself and use the information you have to find out more about the vehicle and its registration. If you have the licence plate number, you should be able to access some basic information about the vehicle online. This will likely include the year the vehicle was registered, its make, and the model year. And this can all be available through your state DMV website.
The services offered online will vary widely by state, so your DMV may not allow you to access information directly. The may also charge a fee for every licence plate search that you want to make. The search is usually easy, and just requires that you input the license plate number. Once you do this, you shouldn't have to wait long for the information you need.
No matter the state you live in, you will not be able to access personal information based on licence plate numbers directly through the DMV. This is due to federal law, so you're not going to have much luck if you try to push for more information, as they are not allowed to hand it out.
There are some exceptions to this law that may give you access to more information. You may request personal information relating to a vehicle registration in the following cases:
- If you are a litigant in a court case
- It is a matter of "motor vehicle or driver safety and theft"
- The request comes from a government agency
- The request comes from an insurance company
Some DMVs will not allow you to access the vehicle registry online. If this is the case, you can call, or visit in person.
Where You Should Go If You Need More Information About The Vehicle
If what you need from a license plate number is fairly basic, then the DMV sites may have enough information for you. However, if you need anything more specific, you should look to a third party site to find out more about the vehicle and driver. These sites allow you to enter the license plate number and find out more about the vehicle and the owner it's registered to.
These websites offer a variety of different services, and charge different fees accordingly. In addition to the information you'll find through the DMV like vehicle make and model year, you'll get the Vehicle Identification Number. This will allow you to see information about vehicle recalls, and is useful if you are considering buying a used car. It will give you the vehicle's history report, which allows you to see past accidents and if the vehicle has been reported stolen, as well as other details that you may want to be aware of before you decide to make a purchase.
Although you may not always find the information, some of the sites will be able to give you details on the person who the car is registered to. It should be emphasized that not every site will be able to offer this information, and that it won't always be accurate.
This information should be used strictly for reference purposes, and not to contact people against their wishes.
Be careful with the website you choose. Some may offer free, instant reports, but they may not be reputable, and could give you inaccurate or outdated information. If they do charge a fee, make sure that it's a website that you feel comfortable giving your payment information to. And if you need more information about criminal backgrounds or want to search other public databases, we offer quick, safe, and confidential searches.
Keep in mind that the information offered by these websites will not be in the form of official documentation. For this, you would need the DMV, and they will not issue any documents relating to personal information.
There are many different options out there, and you should compare a few of them to see which one gives you what you are looking for. Some of the sites you might consider for your search are:
This site is good for finding vehicle reports before purchasing a used car, and can give you additional information that you might want about the model and make
This site gives you access to a combination of public and private data sources that can help you find more about the owner of a vehicle
Always check a site thoroughly, as many that offer license plate look up are scams. There is no easy way to tell if a site is safe, but if there is no contact page, this could mean that the website is not reputable.
Hiring A Professional Service To Search For You
Another option is to hire a certified information broker to find out more about the vehicle for you. These companies offer more tailored services than what you will get on any of the websites, and the information is more likely to be accurate and up to date. They collect information for a living, so they will be able to make the most of the databases that you may not have access to. This, however, will cost you more than the third party sites, so you should think about the kind of information you need before you choose to enlist one.
Make a list of services that you find online. You don't have to find one that serves just your area, but some of the companies may specialize in research in certain regions or cities. Almost all of them should have contact information listed online. Reach out and ask for a rate to compare prices among different brokers.
And always read as many reviews of each site as you can find before you choose one. There are many different information brokers out there, some of them reputable, others not. If you are willing to pay for an information broker, consider paying a little more for one with a good reputation.
Hiring A Private Detective To Gather More Information On The License Plate
If you want the most accurate information, you could consider hiring a private detective. They will cost you more than any of the the other options. Quite a bit more, in fact. However, they can give you access to a level of information that may be hard to collect on your own, and that an information broker may also not have access to.
The reports they can provide you will be far more extensive than those of information brokers, and the information will likely be more accurate than what you will find on a third party site. If you are in need of such extensive reports, they are a great option.
Look into the private detectives who work in your area. Consult online reviews, and contact them to see what they will charge you. Rates can vary widely, and you should probably check with multiple different detectives before you make a decision.
And remember, asking a private detective to look into a license plate number is perfectly legal, and will not get you in trouble. But other services they offer may not always be. Make sure you are aware of what you are hiring them to do.
Who Should Go For Each Option?
The answer depends on how much information you need, how detailed you need it to be, and how quickly you need it, as well as how much money you are willing to spend.
The DMV registries are the easiest and quickest way to get information on a vehicle if you have the license plate number available to you. They are available online, and you don't need any documentation to request information. All you need is the license plate number.
The information you get is likely to be accurate, although it may not always be up to date. This will vary by state. And be aware that some states will not allow you to access this information online, or may charge you to do so.
In most states, you won't have to pay anything, and you can have the information right away. The downside is that you won't have access to any personal information related to the vehicle. If you are just double-checking a vehicle registration, or want to find the model year of a car, this is your best option, and can be done quite quickly.
Getting Personal Information From A License Plate Number
If, however, you need personal information for the license plate number, then you'll have to turn to one of the third party sites, information brokers, or private detectives. Which should you use? This will depend on the extent of information you need, as well as when you need it and how much you want to pay for it.
For most people, the third party sites will be the best option. They are easy to access and don't require much of a time commitment. They will often cost money, but not much, and their results are available fairly quickly. In most cases, the information they provide is reliable.
Sometimes, however, these websites won't have up to date information, or they may not provide as much as you need. That's when you might consider using an information broker to find out more.
Information brokers won't always have access to better information, but they can help curate it and show you what's relevant. They are professional services, so they make their reputation by providing accurate information. But they will cost you more. If you are searching for someone and it involves serious legal matters, then they are a good option. If, however, you are looking up a licence plate number simply out of curiosity, then they probably won't be worth the price, and you should consider using the DMV vehicle registries or a third party site.
The most involved option is to hire a private detective. This is a good option for those involved in a more serious legal issue, who need to ensure that the information is accurate. Depending on the private detective and what type of information you ask for, the time it takes them to find it for you will vary greatly.
Is All Of This Legal?
You might be worried than any of the options discussed above could put you on the wrong side of the law. After all, a lot of this information can seem quite personal, and collecting it intrusive.
There's no need to worry. All of the options discussed here are perfectly legal (although be careful what you ask a private investigator to do), and you are well within your rights to pursue whichever one gets you the information that you need.
Remember, you are taking advantage of publicly available information, not breaking into private records. But sometimes information that is legally available can still be quite difficult to access. That's what these services are for. They help collect information from various different public records and make it accessible to the public, as the law says it should be.
Where is the information coming from?
If you use a third party site or an information broker, you might wonder where they get their information. The primary sources are the state and federal vehicle registries. One source is the US National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, a database of stolen and unsafe vehicles. Other sources may include car companies, insurance companies, as well as many other databases.
The information sources used in a license plate search will vary depending on the site you choose. Most of them will detail where they collect information from, so check for it on their website. If they do not discuss any of their sources, you should consider using a site that is more open about where its information comes from.
Why are all of these records publicly available? The Freedom of Information Act gives you permission to request any information that is held by a federal agency. This means that many databases are open to the public, even if they are not easy to access. There are exemptions to this, allowing the government to deny some requests for information. But for the records that are involved with a license plate search, most are not exempt, allowing you to access them directly or through third party sites.
If It's Legal, Why Doesn't The DMV Release Information?
The Driver's Privacy Protection Act was passed to keep your information safe from people that might misuse it. If someone likes your car, they might consider jotting down the license plate and trying to find who owns it, or where they live. They might then show up where you live.
This is why the DMV does not release personal information when you look up a license plate number. It is meant to restrict information requests to those that need it. However, the law does not prohibit you from looking up a license plate number on a third party site and getting personal information related to the vehicle.
Just because the information is legally available, however, does not mean you can use it however you please. Any information should be used strictly for reference purposes and in full accordance with the law.
Times Where You Might Need To Look Up A License Plate Online
If you've been involved in a hit and run accident, you may have had time to collect the license plate number before the car drove away from the scene of the accident, but not to get any other information about the driver. By looking up the license plate number, you can find the vehicle and its owner, as well as possible addresses and contact information.
Depending on the nature and severity of the accident, you might consider reaching out to them yourself. The police can also do this, but you may want to look into it yourself before involving them.
You can also use the information to check to make sure that the information the driver provided you after an accident is accurate, and make sure that the car is actually registered to them. This can be useful in insurance claims, as well as making sure that the car wasn't stolen. If you are suspicious of a driver after an accident, these tools can be useful to you.
Another reason you may consider looking up a license plate number is when researching a used car before you made a purchase. With a licence plate number, you can get the vehicle's history report, allowing you to see if the seller if hiding information from you. This can help you make an informed decision before you purchase a vehicle.
This will also help you get a market estimate of what you pay for the vehicle that takes into account its past history and anything that should affect its value. You will be able to see if:
- The vehicle has been involved in an accident
- The vehicle has been totalled or severely damaged
- The car has been substantially rebuilt
- There are issues with the odometer, meaning the car might have more miles than what the seller is claiming
- There has been damage cause by flooding
- The car has been deemed non-repairable
- The car has been reported stolen
- The car is currently involved in a loan
- The car is road legal and ready to be driven
All of these can substantially change the value that you should pay for a vehicle, or make you reconsider purchasing it. Searching for a licence plate online is fairly quick, costs you little, and could end up saving you a lot of money.
Making The Most Of The Information You Find
Many of these options will help you find a name associated with the license plate number.
But if you want more information about the person, you should consult a source for accurate people searches. We offer detailed reports based on public records that can help you take the name you found and turn it into a detailed report that includes a criminal background check, addresses, contact information, and assets.
You don't need to hire a private detective and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars if you want to get more out of your license plate search. If you need any other information on the driver, we can help. Whether it's criminal background reports, addresses, or contact information, our search will find what you need. Our background searches are quick, confidential, and presented in an easy-to-read printout.
Just as with any other search done online, the information gained from our site is meant to be used legally, and should never be used for purposes such as spying, stalking, or contacting people against their wishes.
Finding A License Plate Online
Whether you've been involved in a hit-and-run, an accident where you want to check the driver's information, or are curious about a car that's been loitering around your house, an online license plate information is a great way of gathering more information. Combine it with one of our people lookup searches to give you everything you'll need to know about the owner of the vehicle.