California License Plate Number Lookup

Name Phone Number License Plate VIN
Name Phone Number License Plate VIN

How to Lookup California License Plate Numbers

A California resident may have a number of reasons for requesting information on another person’s license plate. The person may want to obtain some information about a driver who performed a hit-and-run incident. The person may also have some inquiries about a vehicle’s history, VIN number information, recalls or safety notices. An online California license plate number lookup can reveal information like this and more. This is because most public information can now be found online with public record websites that  can access billions of records with a simple search. If you have a smartphone or computer or tablet that has internet access, you can access perform a California license plate number lookup. With this type of CA vehicle record search you can find car owner information as long as you have a valid reason to obtain this information according to the CPPA, which is a set of rules that regulate what information is allowed for privacy reasons. Most online vehicle record resources for California will ask you to select a valid reason for running a CA license plate lookup as part of the process. Once you’ve verified your search is legitimate then you can proceed with your vehicle research. The next step in this lookup is to enter the complete CA plate number, or the 17 digit VIN, into the search fields. Once the vehicle search results are available, you will want to verify the make and model of the vehicle is accurate, as there are occasional inaccuracies in reporting. Lastly, you will have the option to obtain a vehicle history report, view vehicle title information, find vehicle owner information and get a breakdown all the options and specifications of the vehicle you’re researching.

Car Owner Search

Reasons For Running a California License Plate Lookup

  1. Verifying Vehicle Ownership: When a person is in the market to buy a used car, truck, SUV or motorcycle, they might want to verify the owner is selling the vehicle to avoid any complications, fraud or buying a stolen vehicle. 
  2. Running Vehicle History Reports: A California license plate number lookup can give an accurate account of a vehicle’s past, odometer reading, any major accidents, if the title is clean, or if there are any safety issues or recalls on that used vehicle. This type of search can help a buyer make an informed buying decision and determine the real value of the used vehicle they want to purchase. 
  3. Motor Vehicle Safety Reasons: A vehicle record inquiry can be made for matters that concern the safety and emissions of a vehicle that also include parts that may have been replaced or altered, that can affect the performance and safe operation of a vehicle.
  4. Accident Insurance Purposes: If a vehicle has been involved in an accident, then an insurance company and law enforcement have the right to research the license plate number and VIN with their investigation. 
  5. Stolen Vehicles and Fraud: A vehicle plate search can be run to find out if it has been stolen or if there is fraud suspected. Law enforcement can follow up to track down the real owner of a vehicle if this is the situation. 
  6. Legitimate Business Reasons: Business can verify the accuracy of personal information, as approved an employee or contractor, for liability reasons and to prevent fraud, or recovering a debt 
  7. Statistical Analysis & Reporting: If there is permission by the vehicle owner, and the information is only to be used as disclosed, a person’s vehicle information may be used for analysis or reporting purposes. 

It’s important to note that this type of vehicle record search can be resourced from a multitude of online public record websites and is heavily monitored by state and federal regulatory agencies. These type of vehicle related searches are intended for people looking for specific information that is made available via the FOIA and allowed by the state and federal laws, as long as the search intent and usage of the information received falls within those state and federal guidelines. If you fulfill the criteria then you’ll be able to access all the vehicle information that is available with your California reverse license plate search. It is also important to note that with some online resources, as of January 2023,  you may be required to register your name or business before receiving any sensitive vehicle related or vehicle owner information for liability reasons. It is ultimately your responsibility to use the CA license plate information for the reasons you complied with.

Another important piece of information is that in California, a vehicle record search number through a vehicle record database, meaning you cannot find someone’s CA plate number or VIN by searching their name. There is a good reason for this as many people buy and sell cars, trucks and SUVs and the data is not always relevant. A reverse license plate search or VIN search is intended to find out relevant information about the vehicle and it’s owner now, not the previous owners. It’s good to keep that in mind when using any public record website that offers access to vehicle related data.

What You Can Find With a California License Plate Search

  • Owner Information For That Car
  • A Complete Vehicle History Report
  • Vehicle Options and Manufacturer Specifications
  • Odometer Verification
  • Vehicle Title Information
  • Salvage and Junk Records
  • Vital Statistics of The Vehicle
  • Accident History
  • Recall Information

It is important to note that some information may only be available to law enforcement, insurance purposes, or other legal reasons at outlined by California driver privacy laws . Make sure to review the requirements and acceptable reasons for obtaining the vehicle information you’re looking for as it’s your responsibility to maintain compliance. Some information may not be accessible if you’re not law enforcement or have authority to do so. Additionally, some older vehicles that are 40 years old may not have the detailed vehicle records as newer vehicles since not all records have been transferred into modern cloud-based databases.

California DMV License Plate Lookup Resources

Many people ask the question if they can run a California DMV license plate lookup, or access vehicle records directly through the Department of Motor Vehicles and the short answer is yes, however there are restrictions. You can only access your specific vehicle records and personal information from the CA DMV directly unless you’re law enforcement, an insurance company or have a legal reason to do so. If you are interested in acquiring your own vehicle or driving records you can do so by either setting up an account online and verifying your identity, and then you can make your requests online and have documents mailed to you. The other option is to visit a branch in person to make your request. You’ll need your driver’s license or another verifiable form of identification and have the correct request form filled out before obtaining any information or documentation. This is the fastest way to lookup your vehicle records or driving records however, some official documentation will need to be mailed to you as it’s processed somewhere else.

History of License Plates in California 

The very first license plates in California date back to the early 1900’s. It was 1914 that the state first required car owners to have California registration plates, also known as license plates, on the rear of their car. These first plates were iron registration plates that had the owner’s first and last initial stamped on them. These plates were made by independent companies, and they were all a bit different. Then because California wanted to have a standard that everyone used, they initiated the manufacture of porcelain plates in 1915 that each had unique numbers on them, like a social security number, so that a vehicle and its owner could quickly be referenced. This is still the standard today in 2023, according to the California DMV, but with more numbers, letters, and special characters. In 1929 in order to save on costs, the state reverted back to stamped metal plates with a 4-digit number code as well as the county annotated on the plate with a letter. Then fast forward a few decades later, in 1982, the state started to issue reflective license plates to make them more visible and required vehicles to have plates in both the front and back of the vehicle, with motorcycles being the exception. They are only required to have a plate visible on the rear of the motorcycle. 

Statewide License Plate Searches

California License Plate Lookup


California License Plate Lookup FAQs

Can I lookup the owner of a California license plate?

It is possible to lookup the owner of a California license plate number if you have a valid reason according to the DPPA regulations in California. To get more details about who can run a California license plate search you can contact your local DMV office.

Can I run a California license plate search?

You can run a California license plate search online as long as you have the entire CA license plate number. There are a multitude of online vehicle record websites where you can run a VIN check or license plate lookup without going to the DMV.

How many different specialty plates are available in California?

The short answer is a lot, there are over 150 different California specialty license plates and they represent a multitude of special interests, military veterans, non-profit organizations, cultural plates, environmental themes, and collegiate license plates.

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Responses to “California License Plate Number Lookup

  1. Lisa M Pellett says:

    Someone hit my car last night and I have the license plate # bit need to know who owns the car to contact. The plate # is California 7MOX397. Please help!

  2. Phil Stroud says:

    I have a complete set of California license plate starting with the letters PT they are from 1929 to 1938 can you tell me what they were used for ?
    I Was told that PT meant pneumatic tire??
    They were all nailed on the inside of an old barn in Shafter California

  3. William says:

    I want to buy a camper from a salvage yard that was abandoned and has a storage bill

  4. Linda Fry says:

    I’m trying to pay a toll road fee from out of state and don’t know my car tag number. How can I get it to avoid the fines?
    Linda Fry

  5. Marcellus A Johnson says:

    I have a 1968 Mustang that was last registered in California in 1986. I inherited the vehicle and I am having a hard time locating a title. I have last plate # and Vin#. Can you help me?

  6. Brandon says:

    Hey I just bought a new car and I only have the vin, is there any way I can acquire what my license plate will be before it arrives in the mail?

  7. squarryadministrator says:

    Josefin, is that the California license plate number that you are interested in finding out if it is stolen?

  8. Josefin says:

    Buying vehicle need to know owner is correct and not stollen

  9. squarryadministrator says:

    John, you will want to contact the California DMV about your release of the vintage license plates. Unfortunately we cannot assist you with this California license plate number search.

  10. John a carrillo says:

    I purchased a set of 1934 plates. The DMV shows they were last registered in 2016 but I did not get the release from the last registered owner. I need to get in touch with them to get one so I can register them to my car

  11. squarryadministrator says:

    Justin, are you attempting to lookup a permanent trailer that is registered in California?

  12. Justin says:

    Permanent trailer

  13. squarryadministrator says:

    David, since you do not have the normal documentation or a CA license plate then you will need to discuss your options with the DMV directly

  14. David says:

    .I have a 1966 VW beetle frame pan and Fiberglas body ! I bought it with no motor with bill of sale no title or license plate . I only have serial number on pan and metal sticker under dash that has serial number and is from Bureau of automotive repair. I believe from California .I’ve checked and it’s not stolen in USA and Mexico!
    Can you help me get title ! Thanks David

  15. squarryadministrator says:

    Shannon, you will need to reach out to the California DMV directly about your inquiry


    I am selling a collection of old license plates for a friend and i would like to know if they are still in the DMV system. That’s all…no other information. I just want to know if they are “DMV clear”. Can i find that information here?

  17. squarryadministrator says:

    Maria, before obtaining any information from our vehicle record resources, you must first go through our terms of service as well as the privacy laws associated with the state you live in. California has very specific conditions when running a CA license plate number. You can also file a police report and have the DMV lookup this person’s contact information.

  18. Maria says:

    Someone dog bit my dog. And gave me a wrong phone number. I have her plate( im pretty sure it is) and i have the plate of the person ghat was with her (this pne for sure) This was yesterday at tuna canyon topanga. 10, 1030am. The dog that attacked was a black large poodle . Owner gave me wrong phone number. I need to reach her. So she can take care of dog’s vet bill.
    Owner’s dog: CB68J32 may/22
    Palisades white new car

    Please help. How can i get their info with license plates?
    Thank you.

  19. John sumrall says:

    Om buy a vehical and want to know if im buying from owner

  20. Stuart Radford says:

    I now own this vehicle in GB

  21. Chela Kleiser says:

    I would like to be able to contact the owner of this license plate since she has my name on her plates and we seem to have thing in common. Chela is not a common name that is why I think she would like to meet or at least talk on phone

  22. ELENA FIGUEROA says:


  23. squarryadministrator says:

    Lola, to take care of an abandoned vehicle in California, there is a process.

    How to report an abandoned vehicle in California

    First you will want to call the police and report the abandoned vehicle. They will followup with trying to contact the owner of the vehicle. Then if there is no response you can have the abandoned vehicle towed at the owner’s expense. Another option is you can visit your local DMV to report the abandoned vehicle and they will in turn coordinate with the police to locate the abandoned vehicle owner

  24. Lola Marquez says:

    This car is abandoned on a property I intend to purchase, I need to contact the owner to remove, so I need the registered owner to contact.
    The plate is California

  25. squarryadministrator says:

    Justine, you might want to file a police report and let them handle tracking down the RV. Our license plate title search resources are not intended for tracking purposes. The only way to track a vehicle is if there is LowJack or Onstar installed and activated on the vehicle itself.

  26. Justine Tucker says:

    My sons RV was stolen.
    I’m a bit confused cuz when I look up the license plate nothing shows license plate being California 783 uot

  27. squarryadministrator says:

    Timothy, this sounds like a police matter. You might consider calling the police and reporting this with the CA license plate number and VIN that you have

  28. Timothy J Brinkley says:

    My cousin was abducted and we have the license plate and Vin number of who took her.

  29. Flora C Chu says:

    Hi, a tourist hit my car and he did not speak English. It looked like he was borrowing the car from a friend. Can you help to locate the car owner?

  30. squarryadministrator says:

    Jami, in order to use our California license plate and vehicle record resources you must go through and read the terms and conditions for our service plus the California privacy rules

  31. Jami lloyd says:

    We are looking at a car to buy wanted to make sure this person owns the car. Plate #6eyv183

  32. squarryadministrator says:

    Said, you will want to contact the police about this incident and file a hit and run report. They will be able to follow up on the information you have and take the necessary measures to locate the vehicle in question. You will also want this report so that you can file it with your auto insurance company.

  33. Said says:

    My car and other two viheclels was hit and run we only have the license plate the TOW track that towed the hit run car

  34. squarryadministrator says:

    Jade, this is a police matter, unfortunately we cannot assist you with your license plate search inquiry. Please read the privacy laws that apply to California, there are restrictions to this type of information.

  35. Jade says:

    I got robber the other night and here is the license plate number. I need to know some Information so I can tell the police if his car was the robber of my place.

  36. squarryadministrator says:

    Sheri, we hope everyone is ok. If you have an emergency please call 911. Next, if everyone is ok, you should contact the police and file a hit and run report. They will be able to follow up on the situation and then you can file an auto insurance claim.

  37. Sheri lynch says:

    Looking for owners of this vehicle for hit and run
    7egf763 Toyota sedan blue California

  38. squarryadministrator says:

    Angela, unfortunately we only have California license plate information on highway legal vehicles. If you have an issue with an abandoned vehicle you can file a police report and have the vehicle towed off your property at the owners expense.

  39. squarryadministrator says:

    Lamar, you will want to reach out to your insurance company directly to report this and they have the ability to lookup this information. You may want to also file a police report if this was a hit and run situation.

  40. Lamar Williams says:

    My car was hit by the owner of this plate on July 10,2020. How can I find out his insurance info so I can file claim? California License. 7T56737

  41. Angela Nordenstrom says:

    I need to find the owners name of a recreational vehicle that has been abandoned on my property but there is no license plate on or on the vehicle. I do however have the Vin #. How can I obtain this information?

  42. squarryadministrator says:

    Liela, unfortunately we cannot disclose any personal information on our blog and the reason you submitted is not an acceptable reason to find the information you are interested in via the CPPA or DPPA regulations. You can go through our process and read the acceptable reasons to run a California license plate lookup.

  43. Liela says:

    I was the victim of a hit and run yesterday afternoon, I was able to get the license plate and filed a report with the CHP. Can I find out the owner’s name/address of the car who hit me?

  44. squarryadministrator says:

    Paul, unfortunately our resources do not cover Recreational Vehicles or Motor Homes. You will want to contact the California DMV directly to inquire about the status of the vehicle title and if it’s clean.

  45. Paul says:

    I am looking at a motorhome for sale that made its way from California to Ontario Canada if I have the California plate number how can I find out if there is any liens on said vehicle thank you

  46. squarryadministrator says:

    David, there are only very specific reasons you can run a California license plate lookup. Please go through our process and read the DPPA requirements to run a California license plate search and see if your reasons are supported for this query.

  47. David Knowles says:

    I have a CA temp permit number, I’m trying to locate the owner. Are you able to help me.


    Thank you

  48. squarryadministrator says:

    Arlene, since this is an older vehicle we may not have the vehicle information in our California license plate record database. If you have the VIN number you can also try searching as well as use the free government resource This government resources offers vehicle history reports for used vehicle that can be very useful when purchasing a used car in California.

  49. arlene says:

    I have the plate number on a Blue CA license plate on a vehicle I am trying to purchase. When I input the plate number, it comes up plate not found. What does this mean? Plate is 5D31437 on a 1978 Ford F100.

  50. squarryadministrator says:

    Maurice, we offer vehicle history reports, you will want to use our Vehicle History tool to perform this. You’ll need the full 17 digit vehicle identification number to begin your search.

Last Updated: 2023-01-23

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