How to find a registered owner of a vehicle

Written by kimberly walker
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How to find a registered owner of a vehicle
(man in car image by kuhar from Fotolia.com)

Every state has different laws regarding obtaining information to identify an owner of a registered vehicle. You will need to know the vehicle number plate or vehicle identification number (VIN) and the state where the vehicle is registered to determine the proper way to conduct the search. Common ways to find a registered owner of a vehicle can be done by hiring a private investigation company, obtaining a court order or paying for a number plate search online. The local department of motor vehicles (DMV) will not release the information to you.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Vehicle number plate number
  • Vehicle identification number
  • Vehicle registration sticker number and state where vehicle is registered
  • Police report

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Write down the vehicle identification number, number plate number and state, and the registration sticker number. Every vehicle is assigned its own VIN number, which is a 17-digit combination of letters and numbers typically located on the bottom left corner of the driver's windshield or on the inside door of the driver's side of the vehicle.

    How to find a registered owner of a vehicle
    (traffic image by jeancliclac from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Check the state laws where the vehicle is registered to determine how you can legally obtain the registered owner's contact information. Choose the appropriate means to do so. You may have to try a combination of methods to obtain all the information you want. Speak with a personal injury attorney to determine your legal remedies and rights.

    How to find a registered owner of a vehicle
    (number plates image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Use a vehicle history reporting service or hire a private investigation agency to locate information about the vehicle. You may also need a court order depending on state laws to find the vehicle owner's name and address. The vehicle history report gives you information about the car make, model, year, VIN, mileage discrepancies and accident history of the vehicle. It does not give the owner's information or any previous owner's information. A private investigator's report may contain a trove of information, including the owner's name, address, lien holder's information, the car registration date and expiration, the owner's license expiration date, the vehicle's model, make and year, the VIN number and title information. You will need this information to contact the owner and to collect damages you have incurred from the person driving the vehicle.

    How to find a registered owner of a vehicle
    (man in car image by kuhar from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Visit a local DMV office to report a hit-and-run accident. You will need the number plate number of the vehicle. The DMV cannot provide you with the owner's name or address. They may only release the VIN number. Keep a copy of the report for insurance purposes and in case you need to file a lawsuit to collect damages against the registered vehicle owner.

    How to find a registered owner of a vehicle
    (Jeep and car after the road accident. image by Dragan Trifunovic from Fotolia.com)

Tips and warnings

  • If you are involved in an accident or a hit and run situation, you should try and obtain as much information about the vehicle such as the license number, VIN number, state of registration, make, model and year of the car and report it to the local DMV, the police and your insurance company. Keep copies of all reports to support your case if you have to go to court to collect damages against the registered owner. Hire a professional vehicle history search company or private investigator to help you locate the registered owner of the vehicle. Consult with a personal injury attorney to determine your legal rights and remedies.
  • You must report an accident or hit and run incident to the police and your insurance company as well as the local DMV. If you do not, you may not be able to collect damages against the registered owner in court. Write down as much information about the vehicle and the driver as you can, including the vehicle license number, VIN, registration decal or state of registration, make, model and year of the car and a description of the driver. Without the vehicle license number of VIN, it will be difficult to make any reports with the police, DMV or your insurance company.

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