How to Do a License Plate Lookup (2021)

Run a thorough research before buying a second-hand car

When it comes to buying a used car, it’s important that you run a thorough research on the vehicle’s history. However, the car dealer and the current owner only tell you so much and you know you can’t just take their words for it. Lucky for you, if you happen to have the vehicle’s license plate number on hand, you can actually run a license plate lookup to know the ins and outs about the vehicle, and it’s usually not hard at all…

Website/AppFunctionalityTrial membership
BeenVerifiedLicense plate lookup, VIN lookup, Year, Model and Make lookup and more7-day full-access trial for $1

What is a license plate lookup

A license plate (also known as a tag or a vehicle registration plate), as we all know, is a plate attached to a motor vehicle to identify the vehicle. Since the plate number is tied to each individual car, running a license plate lookup may uncover specs and history about the vehicle, which includes:

  • Specs (color, manufacturer, fuel, engine, size etc.)
  • Possible accident history
  • Possible flood, fire and hail damage
  • Possible salvage/theft/recall records
  • Warranties
  • Ownership costs
  • Current market value
  • Sales listing history
  • and more.

This can be immensely helpful before you make the financial move of buying a used car. For example, If you’ve recently had your eyes on a second-hand car and it’s on sale, you can leverage the current market value to negotiate a reasonable price before signing the papers to buy. Or, if it happens to have suffered from a flood, you may have second thoughts about buying it, even though the damage is not quite visible to the naked eye.

How to do a license plate lookup to get vehicle history

There are two ways you can run a license plate lookup, through official resources and through BeenVerified.

If you decide to request the data from official resources, you’ll need to go to the corresponding state’s department of motor vehicles (For Califonia, it’s DMV, and for Ohio, It’s BMV). Since different states have different regulations and procedures for license plate issuing, acquiring the information may take a while. The process is usually hectic and you may be charged a fee.

If you don’t have the time or patience, you can try BeenVerified to run a license plate search.

Note that license plate lookup is a premium feature at BeenVerified, so you’ll need to pay to run the search. If you’re not a member yet, the good news is BeenVerified is now offering a 7-day trial membership, which only costs $1! During the trial, you will be able to run unlimited searches and access unlimited reports.

BeenVerified is a professional vehicle lookup website that allows you to run a check on a vehicle though license plate number, VIN, as well as Year, Make and Model. The engine boasts billions of real-sourced data, both from governments and the public. It checks its database periodically and updates it to make sure that the information delivered to its customers is most up-to-speed.

Here is how to use BeenVerified to run a license plate lookup.

  1. Go to BeenVerified Vehicle Search.
  2. While in Vehicle Search engine, plug in the license plate number, select its state, then hit SEARCH.
  3. Wait a few seconds as BeenVerified searches its millions of vehicle records in its database and generates a report for the vehicle for you.

    From the report, you’ll see all available information about the vehicle with its license plate in search, including the specs/market value/accident records/theft records/warranties and more.

As a prominent feature, Monitor This Report allows you to set reminders on a specific search so that you will receive notification if an update on the subject is made. Or, if you don’t want to divulge the information to the public (in the case of a vehicle search, let’s say you own the vehicle), you can, instead, choose the Remove this vehicle from vehicle search option, which automatically deletes and erases the record from its database, and the information will be no longer be traceable throughout the engine.

Bonus Tip: BeenVerified is an all-in-one people/vehicle/company search engine. If you have other information, such as the seller’s name, phone number, and email address, you can search it in the engine to learn more about this purchase.


Searching a license plate number may help you dig out a lot of information about the vehicle it is attached to. This makes it particularly useful in the process of purchasing a second-hand car. To acquire the information, you can request access from governments, but it can take a lot of time and effort. If you don’t want to jump through the hoops, you can use BeenVerified to help you uncover a vehicle’s history in a couple of seconds.

Photo by Tom Grünbauer on Unsplash

By Enya Zhang

Enya is a writer at who spends most of her working hours scouring the web to find the best bargains and deals for her readers. A job that combines her two great loves: writing and shopping. She's an introextrovert who loves being out and about, hanging out with friends and exploring new things, but also enjoys staying home and unleashing her inner nerd - reading, getting hands-on with the latest tech, and binge watching clever TV shows and movies.

Categorized as Technology

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