How To Lookup Virginia License Plates
To look up a Virginia license plate for free, you only need to type the license plate number into an online search portal. However, the information you will find will be vehicle-based, mainly the car or truck's year, make, model, engine type, transmission, manufacturer, MSRP, trim level, braking and steering types, and other small details. When complying with strict state and federal driver privacy laws, you can look up a more comprehensive report including vehicle owner information like their name, address, phone number, social security number, driver's license number, and more. Sometimes you can even see photographs and driving records, including violations. The state of Virginia allows you to request records through the mail or online. When doing so, you will need the owner's date of birth, VIN, and your contact details. You also have to pay a fee.
Virginia Vehicle Laws
According to Virginia motor vehicle laws, all registered passenger vehicles must display two license plates at all times (one on the front and one on the rear of the vehicle).
When moving to Virginia, you have only 30 days to register your vehicle. Before you do, however, you must have it pass inspection and an emissions test. You must also provide proof of insurance (with specific liability limits). You can register your vehicle at a Customer Service Center (CSCs), a Department of Motor Vehicles (DVM) Select Office, or one of their Mobile Offices.
After you initially register your vehicle, you can elect to receive renewal notices by text, email, or regular mail. You can renew your vehicle online using the DVM service or through the mail, in person at a CSC or DMV office, or one of the mobile office locations. You cannot renew your motor vehicle registration unless you have paid your property taxes. When you renew, you can elect to register your car or truck for one, two, or three years (some restrictions apply).
Virginia License Plate Choices
Along with its standard license plate, Virginia offers more than 200 specialty license plates for things like the military, emergency personnel, fraternal orders, and civic or community organizations. However, special plates also represent a variety of other groups such as colleges and universities, conservationists, hobbyists, and amateur radio enthusiasts. Some examples of specialty plate options in Virginia are:
- Alzheimer's Association
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Cure Childhood Cancer
- Fraternal Order of Police
- Harley Davidson Owners Group
- James River Park System
- Knights of Columbus
- National Rifle Association
- Peace Begins at Home
- Rescue Squad
- Robert E. Lee
- United We Stand
- Virginia Agriculture
- Wildlife Bass
Virginia also provides disabled license plates for those who need them and military plates for active and retired personnel.
What is the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) in Virginia?
Virginia honors both the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and its own state privacy laws. This is what they have to say about DPPA law:
"The release of information from the Department of Motor Vehicles is governed by the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (18 USC §§ 2721-2725) and by Va. Code §§ 46.2-208 through 214 . Current Virginia statutes are even more restrictive than the requirements of the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act.
Virginia statutes stipulate that all DMV records are privileged and are not available to the general public. DMV may only release driver, vehicle, and personal information from our records under the conditions specified in the statutes mentioned above.
Driver records have always been privileged information and cannot be released in most cases without the data subject's written consent. Exceptions to the consent requirement are made for law enforcement, other government entities, insurance companies, rental car companies, and employers in cases where the employee or potential employee holds a Commercial Driver's License (CDL)". They consider personal information to be: "Name, address, and social security number are considered personal information".
Virginia License Plate Search Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Legal to Lookup License Plate Numbers in Virginia?
It is entirely legal to look up a license plate in Virginia if you are looking for only basic vehicle details and not owner information. If, however, you need the owner's name, address, phone number, or other details, you can look that up and purchase a full report as long as you comply with federal and state DPPA laws. If you violate those laws, you could face jail time and steep fines.
What Do I Need to Request Records?
When requesting driver records, you can do so online or through the mail. Individuals can easily get a copy of their own records. However, if you are purchasing one for someone else, you will need to provide the person's name, date of birth, VIN, or license plate information. You will also need to provide your name, address, and phone number and pay the fee. In some cases, you must have signed consent as well.
How to Look Up a Virginia License Plate Using the VIN?
Using the form to request records through the mail or the online system, you can look up a Virginia license plate using the VIN. However, there are also free systems like the NHTSA and the national title registry, where you can look up a vehicle by its VIN to find out about its crash history, recalls, and other details.
How to Find the Owner of a License Plate in Virginia?
Virginia has strict driver privacy laws and does now allow individuals to look up the owner of a vehicle using its license plate without good reason. However, if you fall into one of the few categories allowed, you can look that information up online or submit a records request. Otherwise, contact the local police for help.
What is Considered a Legal Use of License Plate Information?
Virginia takes the federal DPPA law and pares it down even further in terms of allowable uses for motor vehicle records that contain personal details. Among them are "law enforcement, other government entities, insurance companies, rental car companies, and employers in cases where the employee or potential employee holds a Commercial Driver's License (CDL)".
Other uses are for insurance, employment, school, the military, insurance, court case, or TNC.
How to Lookup Virginia License Plates for Free?
The general public can use one of many online portals to look up a Virginia license plate for free. However, the information they will find is vehicle-based, mainly the car or truck's year, make, model, engine type, transmission, manufacturer, MSRP, trim level, braking and steering types, and other small details.