Pennsylvania License Plate Lookup | (2023)

License Plate Lookup in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania license plate lookup is the process of using a vehicle’s license plate number and state to retrieve information on the vehicle and its owner. License plate lookup tools are available in Pennsylvania. Anyone can use license plate lookup tools to obtain information about a vehicle before buying it to negotiate better prices and avoid buying stolen cars. When a person conducts a license plate lookup in Pennsylvania, they may find vehicle registration information, title information, mileage, and odometer readings. License plate lookup can also return details about selected Pennsylvania traffic records, a vehicle’s make, model, year of manufacture, inspection, accident history, maintenance history, and available warranty.

There are no special requirements for looking up Pennsylvania license plates. A person can perform a free license plate lookup in Pennsylvania by checking online databases that provide such services. Alternatively, they can look up a license plate from the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) under the Department of Transportation (DOT) or hire a private investigator. Paid license plate lookup services require subscriptions and return current and accurate information on a vehicle and its owner. Conversely, free license plate lookup services usually return incomplete and sometimes inaccurate data.

What is a Pennsylvania License Plate?

A license plate is a plastic or metal sign that publicly shows the official letters or numbers that identify a motor vehicle registered in the state indicated on the license plate. Title 67 Section 47(2)(a) of the Pennsylvania Code requires vehicles to have one license plate on the rear, except truck tractors which display theirs in front.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides different categories of license plates, including:

  • Standard issue license plates: These are issued for passenger cars and have three colors, yellow, white, and blue.
  • Military license plates: These are issued to persons serving in the United States military. They display the standard license plate colors, white, blue, and yellow, and may show the type of medal the car owner earned in military service. They may also indicate the car owner’s service unit or the country they served. For example, military license plates may display a bronze star, combat action medal, or combat medical badge. There are various categories of military license plates in Pennsylvania, including:
  • Special fund license plates: These are issued to persons involved in special fund projects and indicate the project type. The types of license plates under this category include:
    • Wild resource conservation fund license plates
    • Pennsylvania zoological council fund license plates
    • Preserve our heritage license plates
    • Honoring our veterans license plates
    • Honoring our women veterans license plates
    • Honoring our veterans motorcycle license plates
    • Pennsylvania monuments license plates
    • Pennsylvania share the road license plates
    • Pennsylvania distracted driving awareness license plates
    • Pennsylvania distracted driving awareness motorcycle license plates
  • Special organization license plates: These license plates are for members of specific organizations and allow them to advocate their interests. They are available for passenger cars, trailers, motorcycles, motorhomes, and trucks with a maximum gross weight of 14,000 pounds. These license plates are manufactured in the standard license plate colors, white, blue, and yellow. The organization’s logo or emblem appears on the left side of the license plate, while its name shows at the bottom.
  • Specialty license plates: These license plates are for Pennsylvania parents and guardians who wish to use their license plates to pass educational messages. ‘’’’ is printed on the bottom of the license plate while the state’s name ‘Pennsylvania’ appears on top. The license plate also has a logo on the left, depicting a red inverted triangle with the words ‘’teen driver’’ appearing within the triangle in yellow letters. It also features the phrase ‘’please be cautious’’ on the sides of the triangle, in blue letters.
  • Personalized license plates: The DMV issues these license plates to car owners who wish to select their license plate numbers. Persons with personalized license plates can have a maximum of seven characters containing letters, numbers, or a combination of both.

How Do I Get a License Plate in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues license plates to vehicle owners. New Pennsylvania residents are required to apply for license plates within 20 days of relocating to the state. To obtain a license plate from the DMV, a person must:

  • Have a valid Pennsylvania identification like a driver’s license.
  • Submit their out-of-state title to the DMV.
  • Submit a completed Form MV-1 (Application for Certificate of Title Form); the DMV does not make this form available online. Only authorized agents like notaries, messenger services, and dealers can complete the form. An applicant can find authorized agents close to them online by visiting the DMV’s locations information center.
  • Provide a completed Form MV-4ST (Application for Registration Form); this form is not available online. It must be completed by an authorized agent.
  • Show proof of Pennsylvania vehicle insurance.
  • Submit proof of safety inspection; this must be completed within 10 days preceding the license plate application.
  • Provide vehicle identification number (VIN) verification.
  • Provide an odometer disclosure statement.
  • Provide lien holder information, if applicable.
  • Show proof of emissions inspection, if applicable; a person can check online to know if an emissions inspection is required in their county or call (800) 265-0921
  • Pay the required fees via money order or check, payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

A person should submit all the required documentation and fees at any DMV office. Anyone with license plate-related inquiries can contact the Pennsylvania DMV by calling (717) 412-5300.

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Passenger License Plates vs Commercial License Plates

Passenger license plates are for vehicles used in transporting people and property for non-profit purposes. Commercial license plates are attached to motor vehicles used for business purposes. Title 75 Section 1603 of the Pennsylvania Code defines a commercial motor vehicle as a vehicle used in transporting property or passengers if:

  • It is designed to transport 16 passengers or more, including the driver
  • It is a school bus
  • It transports hazardous materials and is required to have a placard
  • Its gross weight is 26,001 pounds or more

In Pennsylvania, commercial motor vehicles do not include antique cars, trailer homes, agricultural vehicles, or motorized construction equipment such as motor graders, excavators, tractors, and bulldozers. The requirements for obtaining passenger license plates in Pennsylvania are the same for obtaining license plates for new residents. To get a commercial license plate, a person should execute the instructions outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

How Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in Pennsylvania

A person searching for a vehicle owner in Pennsylvania can conduct a license plate lookup. This search reveals specific details about the vehicle owner, such as their phone number. A person can run such information through an online search tool like a phone number lookup to retrieve information about the vehicle owner.

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A person can request license plate information from the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by completing a Form DL-135 (Request for Vehicle Information Form) and submitting it to the DMV. The DMV makes confidential information available to specific persons and agencies like court officials, law enforcement officers, government agencies, insurance companies, and the license plate owner’s employers. Nevertheless, a person can conduct a license plate search using online resources that offer free license plate lookup services.

Third-party aggregate sites are a reliable alternative for obtaining license plate information. These sites are maintained by independent establishments which collate the information from government-run repositories. Obtaining records from these sites often proves substantially easier than government alternatives. However, requestors may be required to provide any information required to facilitate the record search and pay any required fees to access the record of interest.

Pennsylvania License Plate Renewal

The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handles license plate renewal. Pennsylvania license plates expire after one or two years, depending on the amount paid during registration. The DMV provides the renewal schedules for different motor vehicle types and the associated fees in Form MV-70S (Bureau of Motor Vehicles Schedule of Fees). The DMV also mails license plate renewal notices to vehicle owners before expiration. Pennsylvania license plate renewal typically takes 10 days.

(Video) Pennsylvania licence plate design history 1958-Present.

To renew a license plate in Pennsylvania, a person needs their:

  • Vehicle’s emissions test, if applicable
  • Car insurance information
  • Vehicle title
  • Vehicle’s odometer reading
  • License plate number
  • Renewal fees
  • Completed Form MV-140 (Request for Registration Form)

A person can renew their Pennsylvania license plate through any of the following channels:

  • In-person: Vehicle owners renewing their Pennsylvania license plates in person should take their renewal notices, fees, and other required documents to any DMV office.
  • Online: Persons renewing online should visit the DMV’s online portal and provide the required information and fees.
  • Mail: A vehicle owner using this method should mail the required documents and fees to:

Bureau of Motor Vehicles
1101 South Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2516

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Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes, anyone can look up a Pennsylvania license plate using its VIN. The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) links a vehicle’s VIN with its license plate during registration.

Pennsylvania VIN Number Lookup

VIN (vehicle identification number) is an identifying code assigned by vehicle manufacturers that distinguishes a vehicle from others. A Pennsylvania VIN lookup returns information about a vehicle, such as its odometer readings, salvage history, fire damage, and owner histories. A person can conduct a VIN lookup using free online tools. Vehicles usually have their VINs stamped on their engine blocks, dashboards, or driver’s side door pillar.


Can I look up a PA license plate? ›

A person can perform a free license plate lookup in Pennsylvania by checking online databases that provide such services. Alternatively, they can look up a license plate from the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) under the Department of Transportation (DOT) or hire a private investigator.

How do I find out who owns a license plate in PA? ›

You may request a copy of a record for a vehicle titled in Pennsylvania. Form DL-135 'Request for Vehicle Information' is required. The name and address of the current owner, vehicle identification number (VIN), title, and the license plate number will appear on the record.

Can you find out who owns a car by the license plate? ›

Is it possible? No, it is not possible using any “vehicle check” service, so you may wish to approach the DVLA who hold this information. Again, your mileage will vary but generally this kind of situation will not come under “just cause” with the DVLA, but remember it's free to try.

How can I check if a number plate is taken? ›

Search with New Reg

You can search online via number plate sales specialist websites – like us right here at New Reg. Simply enter the exact registration you want to enquire about into the search box, and if it is available then the plate and price for it will show right at the top of the list of options.

How do I find someone's tag number? ›

Simply go to your local DMV website or call the number provided to see if the one in your area provides vehicle and driver records. If so, visit the DMV and provide them with the license plate number and any other details you have.

Is it legal to wrap your license plate in PA? ›

The court panel cited a provision in state law that says your registration plate cannot be obscured in any manner.

What does RT mean on a PA license plate? ›

Respiratory therapists are licensed under one of two licensing bodies - the PA State Board of Medicine or the PA State Board of Osteopathic Medicine. The majority of RTs in the state are licensed under the State Board of Medicine (about 90%), however, there is really no difference which one is chosen.

How can I check if a car is registered in my name? ›

You must go to a traffic department and request the information from them. You will need and ID or driving licence to identify yourself before they will provide you with information. You must also fill in a form with the new owner's details. It is your responsibility as well to take the vehicle off your name.

What do you do with old license plates in PA? ›

It should be destroyed or returned to PennDOT to be recycled. Old registration plates may be returned to: Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Return Tag Unit, P.O. Box 68597, Harrisburg, PA 17106- 8597.

How can I find car owner details? ›

Find Vehicle Registration Details with an SMS

Follow the steps mentioned below to find vehicular details by using a vehicle's registration number: Type VAHAN <space> vehicle's registration number. Send it to 7738299899.

What can you find out from someone's number plate? ›

How to find out a car spec from its number plate. You can find out if a vehicle is taxed, its present rate of tax and when it will expire. You can discover the precise date it was originally registered and exactly when its MOT will run out.

How can I find the registered keeper of a vehicle? ›

Registered keeper details will be on the V5c registration document and you should never buy a used car without seeing the V5c. You can check vehicle details online using DVLA's vehicle enquiry service if you know the make and registration number, but keeper details are much harder to verify if you don't have the V5c.

How much is a 5 digit number plate worth? ›

You can search for the plate number you're after and the RTA will provide you with any available plates and the cost for it. U-coded plates will cost approximately Dhs1,620 each for five digits; while plates with fewer digits become far more expensive - sequential three-digit plates go for as much as Dhs500,000!

Is it legal to make your own number plate? ›

How do private registrations work? Private sales can also be expensive and there is also the risk of fraud. Essentially, personalised number plates are only legal if they have the right documentation. Criminals can forge this and victims may only find out they've been duped when the police stop them.

How do you find out if your number plate has been cloned? ›

You won't usually be aware that the car you're driving has been cloned, and often drivers only find out when they receive a penalty notice relating to a speeding ticket or parking fine they were not involved in. In more serious cases, drivers may be contacted by the police.

Can I paint my PA license plate? ›

Is it illegal to paint my license plate? Short answer: Yes. Yes, it is. Your license plate is the property of the state where your car is registered.

Can I have a tinted license plate in PA? ›

A: Tinted license-plate covers are illegal in Pennsylvania because they obscure the plate, according to state police spokesman Sgt. Anthony Manetta. They might not obscure it by much in some cases, depending on the level of tint, but by law plates cannot be obscured in any way, Manetta said.

What makes a license plate illegal? ›

As stated earlier, incorrect colour on number plates attracts fines. There are standard colours for background and font. The front must be white and the rear must be yellow while the characters must be black. Any other colours apart from these, makes it harder to identify, and illegal.

What does pp mean on PA plates? ›

Press Photographer license plates are issued to full-time newspaper, newsreel and television photographers. "PP" appears in small letters inside a "Keystone" to the left of the numbers.

What does P stand for on plates? ›

What are 'P Plates' and what does the 'P' stand for? P Plates indicate that the driver of the vehicle is a probationary driver (indicating you are a fairly new qualified driver).

What is a PA special plate? ›


A personalized registration plate can have a combination of up to seven letters and/or numbers. Special characters are not available. NOTE: A hyphen or space (not both) may be permitted on your personalized registration plate.

Can I throw old number plates away? ›

Fortunately, you're able to dispose of old or unwanted plates by recycling them. Take them to your local recycling centre and, because they're made up of plastic and acrylic, the number plates can be recycled properly in the relevant section of the site.

How old does a car have to be to not need inspection in PA? ›

According to the Pennsylvania statute Title 75, Chapter 13, antique vehicles are not required to submit to safety and emissions inspections. An antique car is any vehicle 25 years or older from its date of manufacture.

What do I do with plates I don't want? ›

Whether they're family hand-me-downs or an incomplete set, here's what you can do with unwanted dishes:
  1. Toss all broken items. ...
  2. Glassware and Pyrex can be donated or tossed. ...
  3. Ceramic items can be donated or tossed. ...
  4. Vintage china can often be sold. ...
  5. Upcycle!
Jun 24, 2018

Who is the legal owner of a car? ›

The Owner Of A Vehicle/Car

The owner of a vehicle is the person or company that bought the vehicle or somebody who was given the vehicle as a gift. The owner is not necessarily and does not have to be the registered keeper or be the day to day user/driver of the car.

Can you find out if a car is insured? ›

The easiest way to check vehicle insurance is through the Motor Insurance Database (MID) online. You will be able to check if your car is insured by entering the vehicle's number plate, and declaring that you're the owner or registered keeper of the car.

How do you prove a car is a bailiff? ›

If a bailiff comes to the property to recover a debt owed by the debtor they will check ownership of the car; if the car is owned by the debtor they will seek possession to pay back their debt. The bailiff can check with DVLA and can check any document presented to them to prove ownership of the vehicle.

What is the rarest license plate? ›

Chicago issued its own license plates 1903-1907, and they remain “incredibly rare” because few were distributed, according to the auctioneers. Of those, the aluminum plates from 1904 are the rarest.

Who owns the number plate 1? ›

Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri's £7.2m '1'

The most expensive number plate in the world - made up of a single digit, '1' was sold to Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri for Dh52. million ($14m, £7.2m). He bought it from a number plate auction organised by Emirates Auction Company in 2008.

How much is the 007 number plate worth? ›

A Guernsey resident won the battle to buy the new (number-only) States of Guernsey registration, '007', in a recent auction. The buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, bought it for a whopping £240,000! This falls short of the UK record set by the sale of 25 O which sold for £518,000 last year.

Why does the queen's car have no number plate? ›

Like all state vehicles for the use of the monarch, the State Royal Review Vehicles were not required to be registered and so do not have number plates.

Are number plates with raised letters illegal? ›

The changes in September 2021 also clarified the position on 3D and 4D plates. The Government said: 'The new British Standard for retroreflective number plates does not state that number plates with raised characters, including 3D gel and 4D number plates, will not be permitted.

Can I display my number plate in my window? ›

According to the law, your number plate should be fixed in an area on the vehicle - not inside it. There's a simple reason why - those pesky cameras may not be able to read your number when the plate is obscured by the sun reflecting on your window.

Can a number plate be traced? ›

We are often asked if we can trace the owner of a particular registration number. But unfortunately this is not possible.

Is cloned plates a crime? ›

Cloning. Cloning is when a criminal intentionally replaces the license plates of their vehicle from a `clean` vehicle meaning a vehicle that has been driven by an owner that has no history of speeding, getting a parking ticket and being fined.

Why do people clone number plates? ›

Cloning a vehicle is when a criminal copies the identity of another vehicle by stealing or duplicating their registration plates. Often criminals will then use the cloned vehicle to carry out further crime or avoid speeding or parking fines.

How many different license plates does Pennsylvania have? ›

Pennsylvania drivers can currently choose from more than 400 license plate designs, something Rep.

Can you look up license plates in NJ? ›

Yes, you can look up a license plate with a VIN, depending on the VIN lookup tool you use. A car's license plate number is linked to its VIN in public vehicle records in New Jersey.

Where can I find my title number pa? ›

Your seven (7) character plate number, title number, VIN number, and check digits are highlighted on samples of both the Vehicle Registration Card and Invitation to Renew below.

Why does pa not have front license plates? ›

Pennsylvania issued front and rear license plates for just a few years, between 1946 and 1952, according to PennDot. Since then, drivers have only needed a rear plate. PennDot historical records don't give a reason for the brief two-plate policy.

Why are PA license plates falling apart? ›

You may wonder what's causing license plates to peel. The DMV of PennDot said license plates peel due to the weather and wear and tear of being in the elements.

Why does PA only have one license plate? ›

Pennsylvania went to single tags in 1944, Jerry, to conserve steel for the war effort. Flush with victory, we went back to dual plates in '47, but most unfortunately, the peace didn't last, and the Korean War prompted a shift back to the single in 1952.

What happens if you don't return license plates in NJ? ›

There are no penalties for not turning them in. The Division of Banking and Insurance said it's not aware of any insurance regulations that require license plates to be turned in when a policy is cancelled.

What happens to the license plates when a car is totaled? ›

If the insurance company takes possession of the vehicle, the owner retains the License plate.

Where is NJ number plate from? ›

NJ – Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, Verulam, Tongaat. Now part of eThekwini.

Can I get a copy of my Pa vehicle registration online? ›

Customers can get their duplicate registration card free at the time of their online renewal. Duplicate registration cards may also be secured if your registration card has been lost, stolen or defaced. No fees are required for a duplicate registration card secured online through PennDOT's publicly accessible website.

How do you check if a car is stolen for free? ›

Use NICB's Free VINCheck® Service

NICB's VINCheck is a free service provided to the public to assist in determining if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle by cooperating NICB member insurance companies.

How do you find my title number if I lost my registration? ›

' Well, nowadays, we don't need a physical copy of the document, as plenty of DMVs have this information online. So the first step to getting a hold of the title number would be to contact the local DMV or checking their website. We might access the information there or ask for it to be sent by mail.


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