How To Lookup Michigan License Plates
You can easily look up a Michigan license plate for free easily online using a search portal. However, you will only see basic vehicle details like the make, model, and year. You can also purchase a record, but you must follow strict DPPA laws when doing so. The Secretary of State in Michigan has a particular form you can use to search for records. Each file costs $11, and you must supply your name, address, and phone number. If the search yields no results, you still have to pay the $11 fee. With a paid version, if you qualify, you can see personal details like name, address, and phone number for the vehicle owner. Additional items like social security number, date of birth, photos, medical information, and driving history may also be included.
Michigan License Plate Laws
Michigan requires you to put your new plates and registration on your car as soon as you get them. If you keep using the old ones and get stopped, you will be fined.
If your insurance can be verified electronically, you can renew your license plates and registration online rather than visit a Secretary of State office in person.
All license plates must be replaced after ten years or sooner if they are rusted, damaged, or illegible.
When you purchase a new vehicle, the dealer is required to obtain a title and registration for you. When renewing your automobile registration, you must provide proof of insurance and an odometer statement.
You must title your new vehicle within 15 days after purchasing it. The cost of a new title is $15.
Michigan License Plates – Specialty Options
Michigan has a Department of State License Plate Store where you can purchase the standard plate that most people use or specialty plates. Some of the categories for special plates are:
- Fundraising License Plates - these are license plates for causes or sports teams, and the funds go to support them. Some examples are Detroit Lions, Boy Scouts of America, Detroit Pistons, Wildlife Habitat, and Breast Cancer Awareness.
- Veteran/Military Service Plates - these license plates honor men and women who have fought in combat with all the armed forces, veterans, POWs and families of lost loved ones.
- Personalized Plates - a personalized plate means the owner can choose the letters/numbers and message on their license plate.
- Standard Plates - four designs for standard plates.
- Historical Plates - vintage plates for antique cars and trucks.
- Collector License Plates - these are not to be used with valid registration.
- Special Organization Plates - non-profit and other organizations.
What Does the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) Do in Michigan?
Michigan follows the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act. The Michigan record request form, used to request personal information and available on the Secretary of State's website, requires a requester to indicate which permissible purpose they are requesting records for. Personal information is defined by the Michigan Vehicle Code.(MCL 257.40B) The permissible purposes listed are consistent with the federal DPPA.
Additionally, they have this warning on their form: "Penalties for Misuse: Under Michigan law, a person who makes a false representation or a false certification to obtain personal information or who uses personal information for a purpose other than a permissible purpose identified in law is guilty of a felony, which may be punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Subsequent convictions may result in imprisonment for up to 15 years and/or a fine up to $15,000."
Michigan License Plate Search Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Look Up License Plate Numbers in Michigan?
It is legal to look up a license plate in Michigan if you have a proper purpose for doing so and can prove it with documentation. Strict state and federal DPPA laws govern the access and use of these records. Anyone can, however, look up a license plate for free to obtain basic vehicle information.
What Information Will I Need?
When requesting records through the Michigan Secretary of State, you must comply with all DPPA laws and provide your name, company, address, phone number, and claim file number. You must also pay using a check, credit card, or money order. It is helpful if you have the person's name, date of birth, and license number. Otherwise, you can provide the license plate or registration number, vehicle make, year, and VIN. You must choose the types of records you want and select your reason for needing them. In some cases, you must provide documentation proving that you work for an allowable company or agency.
How to Look Up a Michigan License Plate Using the VIN?
Using the Michigan Department of State Record Lookup Request form, you can search for and purchase records using the VIN if you don't have other information. You can also use the national title registry to look up a vehicle and find out if it has been in any accidents or has open recalls.
Am I Able to Locate the Owner of a License Plate in Michigan?
Michigan strictly regulates access to motor vehicle and license plate records. They do not allow the general public to look someone up through thier method. However, if you have a valid legal purpose, you certainly can use their form or the automated system with an annual subscription. Otherwise, the best option is to inform local authorities you need to locate the owner of a vehicle and let them handle it.
What Qualifies Me to Lookup Michigan License Plate Information?
Michigan only allows the public to access motor vehicle records for one of the "permissible reasons" listed in Section 7 of the "Record Lookup Request" (BDVR-154) form. Those allowable purposes include:
- For government or law enforcement purposes.
- In conjunction with a court case (civil and criminal).
- For motor vehicle safety reasons including emissions and recalls.
- For insurance purposes.
- A business can legally use them to verify some information.
- Towing companies can look someone up to notify them their vehicle has been impounded.
- For research activities.
- Employers can access them with a signed consent form.
- Private investigators can also use them.
- Car rental agencies.
- Private toll companies.
- Someone requesting their own record.
- A news media outlet for reporting about an event related to the driver.
How Do I Look Up Michigan License Plates for Free?
The general public can look up a Michigan license plate for free easily online using public records. However, the only information you will find is the vehicle's make, model, and year.