Drivers Education

How to Find a License Plate Number from a VIN Number

How to find a license plate number from a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)? If a car is registered in your name, you can ask the department of motor vehicles to produce your license plate number through a VIN search. However, if the title of the vehicle does not carry the name, the DMV will not provide information such as the license plate number of the car. In this case, you have to involve the law enforcement agency if you are not already a law enforcement officer.

How to find a license plate number from a VIN

Explain to the motor vehicle agency that you lost your license plate number and require it for an urgent situation which you would as well explain to them. The local police may then be able to persuade the DMV to call up the license plate number using the VIN  you provided.

If you are a private investigator, an intelligence operative, or a reporter, you might have access to the DMV’s database through internal sources. Explain to your source the reason you require the license plate number. The official can then lawfully research VINs to identify the license plate number and even the address.

How to Find a License Plate Number from a VIN Number

If the motor vehicle is registered in your name, obtaining the license or registration plate number is even easier. Follow the steps below to find a license plate number from a VIN:

  1. Find and Confirm Your VIN

There are many places you can find the VIN of a vehicle. The VIN is also known as the identification number, chassis number, or identification number. First, check the manufacturer plate, the vehicle registration certificate, or your auto insurance card.

You can find your VIN on the body of the car. Check the VIN plate just inside the compartment of the engine, you should find your VIN stamps. You can also lift the bonnet to search around the area. When you have your VIN, you are ready to go. Nevertheless, I assume that you already have your VIN.

  1. Visit Your Local DMV

Visit your nearest local DMV with your driver’s license or any valid photo ID. the DMV’s database contains even more information than you would imagine, including numerous VINs and related information. Explain to the officer that you need to obtain the license plate number of the car. You will be asked questions, including why you need the license plate number of your car. The DMV might as well think that your car has been stolen.

Your driver’s license or any valid photo ID to the officer. Your date of birth may also be required to verify available information.

Meanwhile, it is also OK to periodically check the full list of vehicles registered in your name, perhaps, for the various vehicles that you own. Some time ago, I requested the DMV to provide a list of vehicles registered in my name, and surprisingly, a 2001 Subaru outback was listed among the vehicles. I have never owned a Subaru Outback until recently when I purchased one. The DMV removed the error. A 1995 Subaru Legacy Wagon is now part of my collection, perhaps, it was an omen.

  1. Pay the Fee

If you own the car in question, the DMV may not refuse to provide a license plate number. However, if the car is not registered in your name, your request will be declined. In this case, you may have to involve local law enforcement.

If your request is accepted, the officer will run a VIN search from the DMV records to find out the license plate number associated with the VIN you submitted. Finally, pay the processing fee and license plate numbers are yours.

What to Do After Forgetting Your License Plate Number

If you cannot find your registration number plate or do not have the license plate on your car, search the documents in your interior. You can also check your vehicle registration. If your car is not available, check the title or your renewal paperwork. If your state law mandates you to obtain license plates from the seller after purchase, you can also check the paperwork you received when you bought the car.

The go-to option is to contact your local tag or motor vehicle agency. However, contact the DMV only if:

  • You disposed of your renewal papers because no part of the registration is deductible in your state because the paperwork might contain your license number.
  • You do not have your car with you, meaning that you cannot access your glovebox to check for documents that may contain your license plate number.

You can also ask your bank to check for possible forms containing your license plate number, but they will wonder why you cannot look at your car. Anyone will wonder why you cannot look at the car, or is your car stolen? Hopefully not, but if this is the case, notify the police, your insurance, and your bank (if your car is financed) immediately.


Many fake websites claim to provide VIN search services that let you look up license plate numbers. VIN check only reveals vehicle history. These are scam websites that will steal your information, including credit card details. They do not have access to the DMV’s database and cannot give you the correct registration plate number by merely looking up the VIN you provide. In extreme cases, by signing up on these websites, you could be giving up your VIN number for criminals to clone in a bid to get a stolen car back on the road.

Final Thoughts

The license plate number of your car can be found in your certificate of registration or get the DMV to search it for you if you cannot find it.

If you lost your license plate, you have to request replacement plates to be able to drive your car legally.

Do not hesitate to inform the police if your car has been stolen. In some cases, your vehicle could have been towed for parking on the wrong property. At other times, it is possible that your car has been repossessed if you owe on it.

Meanwhile, can the bank report you to the collections for defaulting?

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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