License Plate Lookup: How to Reverse Lookup License Plate Numbers

If all you have is a car or truck license plate number to find someone – they owe you money, they’ve committed fraud or caused an accident, and the like – you may need to do a reverse license plate number lookup.

Like searching for driver’s licenses, license plate searches have to be in compliance with the DPPA (Driver’s Privacy Protection Act), which clearly restricts the reasons why someone can have access to information related to a reverse license plate lookup.  Should you meet those restrictions, these searches can be done by plate number or VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).  Searches can potentially give you information such as the owner’s name, address, make and model of the vehicle as well as the VIN, title number, and whoever holds a lien on the vehicle.

Unfortunately online reverse license plate number searches are not free, so be prepared to pay $20-$30.  In addition, not all online services offer you the opportunity to find license plates or VINs from all states, so make sure you choose the right search site.

However, there’s nothing that says searching online is the only way to find something, even though many people think “search engine” or “google it” first.

The Department of Motor Vehicles keeps a list of all license plates and VINs…and each state has a DMV.  Each vehicle has a title and any changes made to that title, such as a change of ownership, are supposed to be reported to the DVM.  So filing a request with the Department of Motor Vehicles is actually the best way to do a reverse license plate lookup.

If you have a legitimate reason to learn this information, such as an accident or a court case, your DMV will be able to give you the information you need simply by filling out a form, agreeing that your need fits the law, and paying a small fee.

Another option is to ask at your local police station.  If you have a friend on the police force, they may simply look up the information for you.  But, unless you have such a friend, plan on your reverse license plate lookup costing you some money.