How To Find My License Plate Number

The easiest way to find your license plate number is to look at your vehicle’s license plates, where the number is prominently displayed.

There may be times when you don’t have the vehicle handy and still need to know your license plate number. Don’t have it memorized? No worries: there are other ways to find it.
You can look at your vehicle's documents, such as your car registration, title, or insurance card. You can also go to your local motor vehicle department and show the required paperwork to receive the plate number.
Image highlighting DealNow by PrivateAuto

What Are License Plates?

A license plate is a metal or plastic plate that is attached to the front or back of a vehicle.

The plate typically contains the vehicle's registration number, as well as other information such as license plate number and the state of registration.

License plates are required in order to legally operate a vehicle on public roads. All states require vehicles to have a rear license plate. Some states require a front license plate, while others do not.

Until the 1940s, drivers got a new set of license plates with the date stamped into the metal every year. Georgia was the first state to add decals with the year so plates could be used over and over again.

Regardless of the state you live in, it's important to follow the law and rules, and ensure that your license plate is installed properly.

What Are License Plates Made Of?

Modern license plates are made of aluminum, which is easy to recycle. Manufacturers simply melt the metal down and cast it into new items.

There are two types of license plates:

Flat steel dies are made by taking a sheet of steel and stamping out the desired design. This type of plate is usually used for passenger vehicles and is comparatively inexpensive to produce.
Stamped steel dies are made by taking a sheet of steel and then cutting it into individual pieces that are formed into the desired shape. This type of plate is typically used for commercial vehicles and can be more expensive to produce. In the United States, all car license plates measure 6” X 12”.

Who Issues License Plates?

In most states, license plates are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In some states, the plates are issued by a separate agency, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The DMV is responsible for handling all driver's licenses and vehicle registration applications.

Applying For New License Plates

The process for applying for a new license plate will vary depending on your state, but there are some general steps that you will need to follow.

To register your vehicle, you'll need to show proof of ownership via your vehicle's title, your driver's license, proof of insurance, and information about your vehicle, such as the vehicle identification number, and make and model. You will also need to pay a registration fee.

In some cases, you’ll need to obtain an odometer reading. You will also need a valid registration card, and an identification card such as a driver’s license.

Some states include the cost of a license plate in your registration costs, while others charge it separately. You may be permitted to transfer your old license plate to your new automobile, depending on your state.

When you transfer ownership of a vehicle from a dealership or private seller to your name, you will pay a charge that varies by state. In most states, you will also pay sales taxes on a vehicle purchase.

After you gather the required documents, you can typically register your vehicle either online or in person at your local DMV office. Once you register your vehicle and pay the required fees, you should receive your new license plates within a few weeks.

DMV License Plate Replacement

If you want to change your license plates, you need to visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles office locations. However, if you want specialty license plates that support a particular cause, or if you want a personalized license plate number, you may need to submit a completed application and fees.

If you need a temporary license plate, you should be aware that every state has different requirements for issuing temporary license plates. Commonly required documents include:

Certificate of Title
Temporary car tag application
A valid driver’s license or ID cards
Results of inspections or emissions testing, if applicable
Loan documentation or release, if applicable

Some states require you to show multiple forms of vehicle identification. Typically, one must be a government-issued ID card, while the other can be something like a vehicle registration, bank statement, or utility bill.

Types Of License Plates

In the United States, a variety of license plate types are issued. Here are some of the most common types of license plates:

Standard license plates are issued for passenger vehicles, commercial motor vehicles, motorbikes, permanent trailers, trailer coaches, and park trailers.
Special interest plates are issued as a support for arts, environmental causes, or various charities.
Special license plates are personalized plates issued to recognize service, achievements, licenses, status, historical significance, occupations, etc. Subcategories of special license plates include:
Special license plates: exempt, livery, historical vehicles, HAM radio, military and veteran.
Occupational license plates: dealers, dismantlers.
Special recognition license plates: Legion of Valor, Purple Heart, Gold Star Family, etc.
Apportioned license plates: power unit and prorate
Legislative license plates: senate, assembly.
The off-highway vehicle "plate" is a self-stick decal that you affix directly to an OHV or other off-road-only vehicle.
Agricultural license plates and farm vehicle plates are available in most states and are usually less expensive than standard license plates. When it comes to license plates, agricultural vehicles have a few different options. A farm vehicle can either have a standard license plate, or an agricultural license plate.
Digital license plates are permitted to drive in the United States if purchased and registered in one of the following states: California, Arizona, Michigan, and Texas.
Passenger license plates are typically issued to vehicles that are designed to transport people, such as cars, vans, and SUVs. These plates usually have a simple design that includes the name of the state and a numbering system that is easy to read.

What Does The License Plate Number mean?

In the United States, license plate numbers are typically between six and seven characters long. The number of characters varies by state, with some states allowing for up to eight characters on a plate. In most cases, the extra space is reserved for vanity plates, which allow drivers to choose their own plate number.

The first two letters of a plate's number indicate what state the vehicle is from. After that, the next few numbers usually indicate the county or city. The last few digits are often random, but they can also reveal information about when the vehicle was registered or what type of license it has.

Each state in the US has its own distinct license plate design. Some states opt for a simple design with the name of the state and the date, while others choose to incorporate symbols that represent the state's history or natural beauty.

No matter what the design, each license plate must include the identifying number that is assigned to that vehicle. This number consists of a combination of letters and numbers, and it helps ensure that each car can be easily identified.

Reasons To Find Your License Plate Number

Every state requires that drivers display license plates on their vehicles. As a result, your license plate number can be an important piece of information. Here are a few reasons why may be looking for your license plate number:

Your License Plates Were Stolen

If your license plates were stolen, the first step is to report the theft of the license plate to the local police department. In many cases, you must verify your address with the vehicle licensing office before you can begin the process of replacing a plate that was lost or stolen.

You'll also need your car registration papers. These will have the license plate number listed on them.

If you don't have your registration papers, you can usually find the license plate number by looking up your vehicle identification number (VIN) online.

In some states, you may be able to get replacement plates without having to pay a fee. However, in other states you may have to pay a replacement fee.

Your Car Was Stolen

If your car has been stolen, the license plate number can be helpful to the police in tracking down your vehicle. You’ll want to have a way of looking up the plate number to report the theft to law enforcement.

To Buy a New or Used Car

A vehicle's license plate number can tell you a lot about a car. For instance, by running a quick search online, you can learn the specs of the car as well as its current market value.

Additionally, if you're considering buying a used car, checking the license plate number can help you see if the car had any accident history, and avoid purchasing a lemon. Many states have “lemon laws” to protect buyers from used cars with known defects. In some states, the lemon laws apply to private sales as well as dealer sales.

By running a history report on the car, you can learn about any past accidents or mechanical issues that could end up costing you a lot of money down the road.

Ways To Find Your License Plate Number

Here are some ways to find your vehicle’s license plate number

Find The License Plate Number…On The Car's License Plate

The car's license plate number can be found in a few different places. The most obvious place to look is on the back of the car, on the license plate itself, Or on the front of the car, if you live in a state that requires front license plates.

Another place to look is on the registration sticker that is typically affixed to the lower left corner of the windshield.

How To Find The License Plate Number In Your Car's Registration Documents

Your vehicle registration documents should list the make, model and year of your car—as well as the license plate number.

When you register your car, the DMV will assign you a license plate number. This number will be used to identify your car if it's ever stolen or involved in an accident. The license plate number should appear in your registration documents, so hopefully you have those handy.

Finding the License Plate Number via Insurance

Your auto insurance policy should list your vehicle’s license plate number, so check your insurance paperwork. Or, give your insurance agency a call in a pinch.

How To Find License Plate Number By Name

Trying to find a license plate number from the owner’s name can be tricky. You can contact the appropriate state DMV.

In some states, driver information is considered public information and can be accessed by anyone. However, in other states, driver information is considered confidential and can only be released with the permission of the driver. If you are the driver, you should be fine.

Where Can I Find My License Plate Number Online?

To find a license plate number online, start by visiting the website of your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Once there, look for a link that says "records request." If such a link exists, you will be able to file a records request over the phone or on the DMV website.

If you are unable to find a records request link, you may need to submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The majority of federal agencies now accept FOIA requests electronically, such as through web form, e-mail, or fax.

Once you have filed your request, the DMV should provide you with the license plate number within a few weeks. Keep in mind that some states charge a fee for this service.

How Do I Find My Old License Plate Number

Each state has different rules and regulations surrounding license plate numbers and how long they are kept on file, so it's best to start by visiting your state's DMV website or giving them a call. They may have an online form you can fill out or be able to pull up your records with just your name and driver's license number. They may also charge a small fee for retrieving the information.

How To Find License Plate Number From VIN?

If you need a vehicle's license plate number but only have the VIN, you can find the license plate number by doing a VIN check. You can do this online or at the DMV.

The vehicle identification number, or VIN, is a seventeen-digit code that uniquely identifies your vehicle. When you do a VIN check, you will be able to see the car's license plate number as well as other information about the car such as its make, model, and year. If you are doing a VIN check online, you will likely need to enter the car's make and model as well.

How To Find License Plate Number By VIN Free

One of the most popular methods is to use an online license plate lookup tool. These tools usually require you to enter the VIN of the vehicle in question, and they'll return the corresponding license plate number. Many of these tools are available for free, although some may require you to create an account or provide other information before you can use them.

Using a free VIN check tool is a powerful way to perform a comprehensive check on any used car. By entering the car's VIN number, you can find out important information about its history, including previous owners, accidents, and repairs. This information can help you make a more informed decision about whether or not to purchase a particular vehicle.

In addition, a free VIN check tool can also be used to check for open recalls on a vehicle. This is especially important if you are considering purchasing a used car from a private seller, as many sellers are not required to disclose this information.

By using a free VIN check tool, you can ensure that you are getting all of the information you need to make a safe and informed purchase decision.

What To Do If The Vehicle Doesn't Have a VIN?

If you're looking at buying a used car, you'll want to make sure it has a VIN. The VIN is an important part of a vehicle's identity and helps protect against theft and fraud. But what if the vehicle you're looking at doesn't have a VIN?

If a vehicle doesn't have a VIN, it's likely that the VIN has been removed. It's best to avoid buying such a vehicle.

Buying or Selling A Car with PrivateAuto

Conduct private car transactions easily and safely with PrivateAuto. Our innovative platform connects buyers and sellers and gives them all the tools to complete the deal, from in-app financing to secure messaging to integrated payments. Get started with PrivateAuto today.

10 Easy Steps for Selling A Used Car with PrivateAuto

Untitled design - 2023-10-31T060714.961.png
PrivateAuto makes selling your used car safe and easy. The sales process consists of a few simple steps:

1. Gather the required documentation
2. Create your PrivateAuto profile and get verified
3. List the car
4. Set your own terms
5. Vet incoming offers
6. Choose the buyer you like
7. Schedule the meetup
8. E-sign paperwork
9. Get paid instantaneously
10. Transfer ownership

License Plate Number FAQ

What is a DMV license plate lookup?

A DMV license plate lookup is a service provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles that allows you to track down the owner of a vehicle using its license plate number. This can be useful if you need to find someone's contact information, or if you want to make sure that a car you're considering buying is not stolen.

To use this license plate search service, simply enter the license plate number into the DMV's online search tool. You will then be able to see the vehicle owner's name, address, and phone number.

How do I find my PA license plate number?

Is license plate information public record in Florida?

How do I check my car tag in Florida?

What is the best VIN lookup service?

How do I get new state license plates after moving to a new state?

How can I clean my license plates?

What size are license plate screws?

Should I Remove License Plates When Selling a Car In California?