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How to Find Out Who Owns a Car by the License Plate Number

By Edited May 10, 2015 1 2

DIY Free License Plate Search

If you are looking at how to find out who owns a car by the license plate number on the vehicle, you will have very few options to keep in mind.  That said, it is possible to accomplish this task with some work and research on your end.  While there are some sites that will give you the information you need, it’s not generally going to be something you’ll find at no charge.  In this article, I will show you some things you may want to try and some options you have when you are trying to find the owner of vehicle by license plate number.  Let’s get started and see what might work in your area or state.

Option #1 – Department of Motor Vehicles

Whether you live in Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York or any other state, this is going to be your best place to start out your search.  The DMV in your area may have different names for the license plates; some may call them vehicle tags or car tags, but the main principal is the same regardless of the name they use.  Approach the DMV worker behind the counter and make your request.

Don’t assume they can give you this information – it will vary by state.  In some states, they simply cannot do this.  In other states, you must provide a written request or fill out a form to find out the owner of a car by license plate numbers.  In other areas, it may be possible to get the information through verbal request.

You may not have to go to the office in person if the DMV in your area has a website.  Look online to find out if they have a license plate lookup feature by searching their site carefully.  It’s a good way to find a vehicle’s ownership or registration.  It might not be free in all areas, but in most locations, the charge will be minimal.

Option #2 – Local Law Enforcement

Let me start out by saying I have worked as both a dispatcher and police officer in Wisconsin and we weren’t allowed to give out this information to anyone other than law enforcement personnel.  This makes sense, since the requesting person could be up to no good or intend harm to the vehicle owner.  That said, it will vary by state and sometimes agency.

Your best bet is to call the police department or sheriff office.  Ask if it’s possible to process your request and if there is a fee.  Some may do this as a service free of charge and others may require you to fill out a form and pay a small fee.  In either event, it’s possible for some people to locate the registered owner of a car by license plate number.  It’s something to attempt and will not cost you any money to call and find out.

Option #3 – Reverse License Plate Searches Online

These will not be free, but they are often the quickest and most effective.  You’ll find many sites online that will give you the registered owner of any car tags based on the digits and state of issuance.  It might be a good way to locate a person by their automobile digits.  Expect to pay several dollars for this service.  It’s not free, but it does work quickly.

Option #4 – Online Searches

Try entering the digits.  If the vehicle plate is listed anywhere in public records, you may have a chance to get a return online to make the connection.  It’s not very likely to work, but it is one option to keep in mind and try.  In addition, some people have been known to put their digits on social sites like Facebook or MySpace, especially if they have personalized license plates and are proud of them.  It’s worth a try and will only take a few seconds.  Best of all, it’s free to attempt.

Now you have some options to keep in mind when you are asking, how can I find out who owns a car from the license plate number?



Oct 14, 2011 6:38pm
Now isn't this an interesting article! I did not know you could find people by license plates through the Internet. It can be a positive thing and it could be a negative thing. But the information overall is great and it is also well written! Who are you on HP? I would love to also read your work there or maybe I already have been.:)
Nov 17, 2011 11:42am
I have often wondered this myself. Interesting article.
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