How To Find License Plate Number By VIN

It is easy to find a car’s license plate number if you have its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Here is how to find the license plate number by VIN.

Finding a car’s license plate number is easy if you have its 17-character Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Just know that while many states consider DMV information public, you may need to prove vehicle ownership to obtain a plate number.

How do you look up a license plate number by VIN?

Here are the simplest methods:

  1. Request DMV records online
  2. Visit a local DMV branch
  3. Call the dealer you bought the car from
  4. Call your automotive insurance provider
  5. Use a third-party VIN decoder site
  6. Ask for help at a police station

In this guide, I’ll provide more details about each option. But first, I’ll briefly explain what a VIN is and how to find it.

Let’s get started.

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How To Find Your Car’s VIN

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

A VIN is a unique 17-character serial number for identifying individual vehicles, much like a social security number, but for cars. Your vehicle is registered with the DMV by its VIN, which, in turn, issues a license plate number.

You’ll find the VIN on the driver’s side dashboard, visible from outside the vehicle looking through the bottom corner of the windshield. The VIN should also be printed on a label inside the driver’s side door.

Moreover, a vehicle’s VIN is usually printed on its registration, title, insurance card, loan docs, etc. 

6 Ways To Find A License Plate Number By VIN

Option 1. Request DMV Records Online

The easiest way to find a license plate number by VIN is by submitting a request through your state’s DMV website. For example, check out this vehicle record request page for California.

Some sites offer a better user experience or more online services. Still, most allow you to request a vehicle’s DMV history, including license plate number, by VIN.

Option 2. Visit A Local DMV Branch

DMV Department of Motor Vehicles California

Prefer speaking with someone in person? You can also visit your local DMV office. Use this search tool to quickly find a nearby DMV branch.

Remember, some states require proof of ownership to obtain DMV data, like a license plate number. Besides having the VIN, make sure to bring any relevant documentation showing the vehicle is yours.

Option 3. Call The Dealer You Bought The Car From

If you bought your car from a dealer, they should have the license plate number from when they got the vehicle. Just ask for a sales or finance manager, provide the VIN, and voila.

The dealer will not be able to use a VIN to find the license plate number if your car was new or didn’t have plates when you bought it.

Option 4. Call Your Automotive Insurance Provider

Phone call

Another way to find a license plate number using a VIN is through your auto insurance policy. Insurance companies usually ask for plate numbers before offering coverage, so they might be on file.

For the agent to find the plate number, just provide the car’s VIN and verify you’re the policyholder.

Option 5. Use A Third-Party VIN Decoder Site

Whether DMV information is considered public or private depends on the state. Regardless, most VIN decoder sites don’t provide plate numbers, but some do.

SearchQuarry is one option for finding a license plate number by VIN; just be ready to pay a fee. Moreover, be wary not to pay for any VIN-check service unless you’ve verified if it’s reputable.

Option 6. Ask For Help At A Police Station

Police Building

Finally, a police station can also find a license plate number by VIN. Just make sure you bring proof that you own the vehicle.

If you’re trying to find the license plate number of a car that’s not yours, much depends on state law. Regardless, an officer should at least hear your case and offer suggestions.

Lose Your License Plate Number? Don’t Lose Hope

While it might take some legwork, you should be able to find a license plate number by VIN without too much hassle.

If the vehicle is your own, an online request on the DMV’s website should produce a plate number in no time. If the car is not your own, you may need to pay for a VIN-lookup service or request assistance at a local police station.

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Joshua Barrett

Josh Barrett is a writer hailing from the great state of Alaska. While describing himself in the third person is not his forte, writing about any and all things automotive – is. After 13+ years hustling in the exciting world of car sales, he took off to travel the world with his dog Teemo.