If you are thinking of buying a used car and you need some information about the previous owner, then running a reverse search on the license plate is very important. In this article, we look at what a license plate reverse search is and some of the information that you get.
What is a Reverse License Plate Lookup?
A reverse license plate search is a search that takes the full license plate number of a vehicle and the state or registration to reveal information about the vehicle associated with the license plate.
The information is usually stored in a vehicle records database and will reveal information such as the owner, the VIN and other information about the vehicle.
What Type of Information Does a Reverse License Plate Lookup Reveal?
A reverse license plate search will reveal a lot of information when done correctly. It usually reveals the previous owner, their address.
The type of information that you can receive from a license plate lookup may vary from one state to the next, based on state laws and the regulations of the Department of Motor Vehicles in that state.
The license plate lookup may provide comprehensive information about the vehicle, depending on the service you select. Depending on the service provider, your reverse lookup may include:
- Make and model of the vehicle
- Registration history
- Government recalls
- Accident history related to the vehicle
- History of flood, hail or fire damage
- Lien and repossession records for the registered vehicle
- Whether the vehicle is subject to a mileage rollback waiver
- Vehicle sketch and image
- Law enforcement and accident reports that mentioned the vehicle’s license plate
- Images and videos associated with the license plate number
- Service and inspection history
Generally, there are several organizations that may provide information about vehicles, including the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, the Department of Motor Vehicles, car manufacturers, law enforcement agencies, public auctions, and other reputable sources.
Reverse license plate lookup servicers generally pull information from various organizations to provide one comprehensive report about the vehicle and owner based on information associated with the license plate number.
Legal Reasons To Run a License Plate Search
Before running a reverse license plate search, you need to know that it is illegal by law. You need to have a valid reason before running a license plate search for a vehicle that is not yours. Here are some reasons to do so.
To report bad driving
If you notice someone driving terribly, you can give their license plate number to the authorities who will then do a reverse license plate search to get the driver.
To report an accident
Another reason why you may need to run a license plate search is to report an accident. If there is an accident and the other driver flees the scene, a license plate search can be run to find the owner and make them face the law.
You can usually look up a license plate number if you are involved in a civil matter, including arbitration or litigation that involves the motor vehicle or in which you may make a lien against the vehicle.
This information is also available for research purposes, but personal information is usually excluded. The search can also be used for market research companies that distribute surveys to car owners.
A tow truck company can typically use a reverse license plate lookup to find the registered owner of a vehicle it has towed away.
How To Run a License Plate Lookup
There are two ways you can conduct a reverse license plate lookup, by asking the DMV or equivalent organization or online:
1. Through the Department of Motor Vehicles
If you think you have a valid reason for it, you can request the DMV in your state to conduct the reverse license plate search. Just give them the license plate number of the vehicle. Of course, they will ask you why. So, be prepared to justify your purpose. Also, DMV will charge a nominal fee upon request approval.
2. Using online search
There are several online reverse license plate lookup companies that allow you to use a license plate number. One that I will recommend is our license plate search tool. Additionally, the type of information and accuracy of the information may vary tremendously from one provider to the next.
If you want to conduct an online license plate lookup, the process to obtain the vehicle information may include:
- Open a web browser
- Go to the specific website or click on this link
- Enter the license plate number
- Select the state listed on the license plate
- View the results and opt in to purchase additional options
- Review the remaining information