How Do You Look up License Plate Numbers?

9 min read
Updated: Sep 10, 2021

A license plate is a type of signage on a vehicle, usually found on the front and rear of the car. It displays the designation of the issuing jurisdiction.

License plates are one way of showing who or what organization owns a car. They also show whether a vehicle is permitted to be used on public highways and for what purposes, such as carrying passengers or goods, whether it is insured against third-party risks, and whether it complies with vehicle safety standards. Click here to check.

How to Find My License Plate Number If My Car Was Stolen?

License Plate is a sign placed on the front and the rear of a vehicle. In most jurisdictions license plates have fixed numbers. In some states, however, they have letters in addition to numbers. They generally have 3 letters followed by 4 numbers. The prefixes are determined by the issuing agency in each jurisdiction and may vary from state to state, or in some cases county to county.

For example, the City of Indianapolis has a 5 letter code for its license plates. A license plate can have either a 3 or 4 letter code designating the issuing agency. In most states, this prefix is a simple type of letters and numbers. In some states, however, they are a more complex type of letters and numbers that includes special characters for identifying the issuing agency. This can be to include special designators for special license plates.

For example, the California Department of Motor Vehicles uses this type of code for its license plates. It has a 4 letter code ending in “A” to indicate the issuing agency. It also has an optional suffix consisting of one letter and three numbers that indicate a specific type of license plate issued by that agency. In some cases, the suffix may also designate a specific class or group assigned to a licensed vehicle, such as historic vehicles.

Sometimes the letter appears before the numbers, but in most cases the numbers are always first. They are often followed by a space or underscore, then two letters that indicate the type of license plate issued.

Most jurisdictions have three types of standard plates.

The first is a standard plate with no special designators. It is usually made to be spread out horizontally across the front bumper of a vehicle. This type of plate can be used for any type of vehicle, including passenger vehicles, trucks, vans, motorcycles, etc.. It is also frequently redesigned to show an image or picture or of the state’s flag, state flower, state bird, logo, etc.

The second is a standard plate with letters of the alphabet. A letter may be used for the first letter of the name of the issuing agency (as in Indiana) or it may be used for another special purpose (as in New York State). It is frequently made to be spread out on both sides of the vehicle bumper.

For example, the license plates in the state of New York have 3 special designators to indicate a Type of vehicle, a class of a vehicle, and a specific registration status.

The first is a “three letter combination” which is to include the letter “N” as the first letter indicating that it is issued by the state of New York. It can also include other special designations relating to types of vehicles, such as “H” for historic vehicles. It can be in a 7, 8, or 9 letter combination depending on the issuing agency.

The second is the “base A” which represents the type of vehicle it is. It can be one of several types such as bus, motorcycle, trailer (for semi-trucks), and/or limo (for taxicabs). It also has two or three letters following “A” designating a specific auto class such as sedan A, station wagon A, etc..

The third is the “B” which indicates a specific registration status. It can be a regular passenger vehicle registration or a motorcycle, trailer, etc.

In other cases, the first letter of the issuing agency is used as a prefix for the numbers as in Indiana. In either case, these 3 letters are sometimes followed by one or two letters which indicate a special class or type of vehicle such as “T” for Taxi, “D” for Dump truck, etc..

The third is a dealer or “Motor Dealer” plate. It usually is made to be spread out across the rear bumper of a vehicle. It is used for retail sales purposes usually at car dealerships. It often has three letters followed by three numbers.

How to Find My License Plate Number If My Car Was Stolen?

License plates are affixed to the front and rear of privately owned vehicles in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Australia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. Most jurisdictions allow the owner to attach the license plate frames directly to the vehicle’s bumper or license plate, while others require separate license plate frames.

When a person purchases a vehicle, they need to register it within a prescribed period of time (usually up to 60 days) and place their license plates on the rear or front of their car.

State agencies most commonly use license plate scanners to scan for stolen cars. This is done by scanning all the license plate numbers of every vehicle in a certain area at once. If a vehicle is registered in another state, its license plate number is checked against the database of stolen car information maintained by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

The state can then use this information to identify which cars are the most likely to contain stolen property. This process is called license plate recognition (LPR).

License plates are commonly stolen to disguise the identity of a vehicle. For example, criminals will try to change the license plates by damaging them and making them unreadable. This way, if the police stop and question them for a traffic violation or other offense, they can claim it is not their car and avoid any penalties.

This is often referred to as “tag switching” and is done with the goal of refitting it with fake plates later. In some cases, the license plate is unscrewed and taken off the car. In other cases, the actual plate is stolen and replaced with a new one. With this method, the plate is usually secured with glue and screws to prevent it from falling off the vehicle and is then sold as a genuine replacement to a law enforcement agency or individual.

The latter method involves using stolen license plates on second-hand vehicles or those that have been abandoned by their owners.

However, law enforcement agencies are aware of this type of deception and will sometimes use specialized license plate readers to check any vehicle’s license plate number against the database of stolen plates. If a match is found, the car may be subject to closer inspection.

What is the Number on the License Plate Made up Of?

Many people believe that license plates are randomly generated numbers that cannot be predicted, but there are actually millions of different combinations that can be generated.

The number of characters that a state can use for a license plate varies from three characters to as many as four or five characters. Some states allow up to six characters for their license plates.

In the United States, it is illegal for private individual to make up their own personalized number as a way of stealing cars, but criminals have been known to do so.

License plates in the United States are also called license tags. All states in the U.S. and Canada issue metal plates to licensed drivers and motor vehicles, though some states require a license plate to be displayed at all times and other jurisdictions regulate the type of plate that can be issued to different types of vehicles.

The United Kingdom requires Britain-wide standard number plates for motor vehicles, with Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales issuing their own variants for use on intra-UK journeys. Vehicles owned by residents in the UK must have a UK registration plate showing the vehicle’s registration mark.

Although some states have introduced types of alphanumeric plates that are considered to be advanced security features, the traditional number plate is still widely used in most areas.

What Are Police Using License Plate Readers For?

There are several reasons why police use license plate readers. One is to help identify stolen cars, but another is for intelligence gathering. The aim is not only to identify the car but also the owner if it appears that they may have violated any laws or regulations.

If there are any outstanding warrants for an address associated with the vehicle, then the police will be alerted and may even search for evidence inside the vehicle before seizing it.

How can I find my personal information from a license plate?

This type of information is generally only available to law enforcement with a warrant. There are many websites that will try to advertise that they can help you to obtain this type of information, but it is likely that they will not be able to provide you with any useful information.

Some companies might claim to be able to provide this type of information for a fee, but in reality, there is no legal way for them to do it.

However, law enforcement agencies are able to receive this type of information about vehicles and their registrants via license plate scanners.

Generally, they would only provide the data in an intelligence report and not allow anyone to view it. This is to ensure that it remains confidential and that there is no breach of privacy. It is only once the investigation into a crime has been completed that these reports may be made available for public access.


Sophia Rodreguaze


Sophia is the contributing editor at She writes about anything and everything related to technology.

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