Texas License Plate Lookup

License Plate Lookup in Texas

A Texas license plate lookup is a search carried out by entering the vehicle's license plate into a search tool. The lookup provides extensive information about the vehicle identified by the license plate. There are numerous reasons for which a license plate lookup may be conducted. Apart from identifying a vehicle owner, it may be used to obtain the vehicle's history when a prospective buyer wants to acquire the vehicle with the license plate. By obtaining a vehicle history report, the person performing the search may ascertain the vehicle's flaws and make an informed choice about the purchase and other related expenditures. A license plate lookup may provide selected Texas traffic records and vehicle-specific information, such as:

  • Accident history
  • Manufacturer recalls
  • The VIN
  • Salvage and other branded titles
  • Sale history, estimated ownership costs, and market value
  • Equipment and trim specifications

You may conduct a license plate lookup by visiting the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Other third-party vendors also provide free and paid services for requesters to perform license plate lookups online. While basic vehicle information is easily accessible via free services offered by online vendors, a comprehensive vehicle history record or information can be acquired through official sources such as the Texas DMV. Reports and vehicle information obtained from free service providers may be inaccurate and out of date.

What is a Texas License Plate?

Texas license plates are number plates issued to vehicles registered in the state for unique identification of each vehicle and to certify that the automobile can legally move on state roads. Texas is a two-plate state, meaning that drivers must have both rear and front license plates affixed to their vehicles. However, only rear plates are required for trailers, motorcycles, and antique vehicles.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles issues general issue license plates - also called standard license plates, specialty plates, and souvenir plates. Most vehicles in Texas have standard license plates. Selected by Texans in an online e-vote, the Lone Star and Panoramic design of the standard license plate was the beginning of Texas license plates using a seven-character plate number. The Lone Star and Panoramic license plate design was launched in 2009 and is notable for its vibrant color and full-plate graphic design. The Texas Classic is the current design and official license plate in Texas. It was introduced in 2012 and has a light blue color with bold lettering and a star emblem in the upper-left. It has two bands of high-visibility security thread inserted in the plate sheeting, which is a unique feature. This thread makes it easy for law enforcement to check the authenticity of license plates. The Texas Classic is the country's first plate to use this measure.

Specialty Plates are one-of-a-kind license plate designs that cost an additional charge and are meant to symbolize something special to motorists. Specialty plates include military, high schools, and Texas institutions among the themes, as are hobbies, nature, sports, and even fraternities or sororities. Some organizations support specific charities, and the purchase cost is usually donated to them.

Specialty plates may be customized with a specific message or slogan, but the Texas DMV must first approve the message. There are certain language restrictions; no gang or drug allusions, and no usage of the number "69" unless used in conjunction with a vehicle make. The number of characters permitted varies depending on the plate selected. Personalization is possible but will be charged.

Souvenir plates do not have the same legal status as standard plates and are just for decoration. They, like specialty plates, may be used to promote causes such as cancer research or charities and represent groups, fraternities, institutions, hobbies, and other interests. Souvenir plates cannot be affixed to vehicles since they do not have a real number, and some do not even have a number at all.

Texas's general issue plates are now seven digits long, with three letters and four numbers or three letters followed by four letters. Vowels are not used on standard-issue license plates; however, they are allowed on personalized ones. The absence of vowels on general issue plates protects the Texas DMV from unknowingly spelling a derogatory term or prefix.

Vowels may be used on personalized plates, but their owners must fulfill a series of restrictions before their spellings are accepted. A combination of more than six characters or digits is not permitted on personalized plates. Texans have the option of including spaces, hyphens, periods, hearts, stars, Texas silhouettes, or the International Symbol of Access.

License plate placement is controlled by Texas Department of Public Safety standards under Transportation Code Section 504.943. According to Rule 217.27 of Title 43 of the Texas Administrative Code, passenger vehicles must display two license plates, one on the exterior front and one on the exterior rear, that are securely fastened to the exterior front and rear of the vehicle in a horizontal position not less than 12 inches above the ground.

A law enforcement officer has probable cause to stop a vehicle if the driver does not have either the front or rear license plate affixed on the vehicle. You may also be stopped for a violation of Section 546.322 of the Texas Transportation Code if your license plate is not clearly visible from 50 feet at night.

Passenger License Plates vs. Commercial License Plates

Passenger license plates are the regular license plates issued to residents for personal use. In contrast, commercial license plates are issued to vehicles for commercial purposes such as buses, taxis, and commercial trailers. Per Chapter 502 of the state Transportation Code, a passenger vehicle means a motor vehicle, other than a golf cart, motorcycle, sport utility vehicle, passenger van, light truck, or bus, used or designed for the transportation of up to 15 passengers, including the driver. The commercial motor vehicles chapter of the Texas Code also defines a commercial motor vehicle as a towed or self-propelled vehicle, other than a farm vehicle having a gross weight, registered weight, or gross weight rating under 48,000 pounds, that is used on a public highway to transport passengers or cargo.

Per Section 217 of the Texas Administrative Code, commercial vehicle registrations are classified into multiple categories, including apportioned license plates, city bus license plates, combination license plates, cotton vehicle license plates, forestry vehicle license plates, in-transit license plates, motorbus license plates, and token trailer license plates. The application process for commercial vehicles differs depending on the weight of the vehicles. The commercial vehicle registration process and requirements are contained on the commercial vehicle registration page and the motor carriers page of the Texas DMV website.

The requirements for obtaining a passenger license plate are the same as obtaining a standard license plate in Texas.

How Do I Get a License Plate in Texas?

Texas license plates are issued to vehicles when the automobiles are registered with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). To register your vehicle and obtain a license plate in Texas, follow these steps:

  • Have your vehicle inspection completed at a certified inspection station in Texas. The state requires Texas-registered vehicles to comply with the set safety standards to pass an annual inspection. Certified inspection stations are available on the Texas DMV website.
  • Provide insurance coverage for the required minimum per person, per accident, and property damage.
  • Obtain your vehicle registration, sticker, and license plate at your local county tax assessor-collector office.
  • Submit completed Application for Texas Title and Registration (Form 130-U).
  • Pay the applicable vehicle registration fee. In Texas, the base registration fee is $50.75, plus $1 for TexasSure, the electronic insurance verification program, and other Department of Public Safety (DPS) programs. So, the total state registration charge is $51.75; however, counties may add additional costs to this amount.

For further information about obtaining license plates and completing vehicle registrations in Texas, contact:

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV)
4000 Jackson Avenue
Austin, TX 78731
Phone: (512) 465-3000
Fax: (512) 465-4129

How Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in Texas?

A number plate search is an effective method for finding the vehicle owner. Typically, the Texas DMV obtains information about the vehicle and its owner during the initial vehicle registration. You may find the individual linked with a license plate registration by looking up the record with the DMV or via online license 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.

Texas License Plate Renewal

You may renew your license plates by renewing your Texas Vehicle registration. Vehicle registration renewals can be completed online, in person, or by mail. Note that you must have completed a vehicle inspection check before you can renew. To renew your registration in person, take your registration renewal notice and proof of current liability insurance to your local county tax assessor-collector office or an approved substation. During the initial vehicle registrations, registrants who signed up for eReminder at the county tax assessor-collector offices typically receive emails from the Texas DMV when it is time to renew. Persons who did not receive renewal notices may renew their registrations by providing:

  • Current license plate number
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Registration receipt from the previous year

To complete a registration renewal by mail, send the following to the local county tax office:

  • A copy of the vehicle inspection report (VIR). The state permits vehicle owners to obtain VIRs online
  • Proof of current liability insurance
  • Renewal notice
  • Fees as listed on the renewal notice

To complete renewals online, complete the process using the Texas vehicle registration renewal online portal. Vehicle renewals may be completed online 90 days before the expiration date or up to 6 months after expiry if a vehicle owner has not received a citation for expired registration. You will earn a $1.00 discount if you renew online.

Renewals at subcontractors or substations, such as a participating grocery shop, are permitted in certain counties. Your VIR may not be accepted as evidence of inspection if you renew your registration at a county subcontractor site, such as your local grocery shop. Each county decides whether or not its subcontractors may use VIR to verify inspection. You will be directed to the county tax office to complete your renewal if a subcontractor is not authorized to verify through VIR.

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes, you can check for Texas license plates if you know an automobile's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The VINs are associated with license plates and other vehicle and owner information maintained by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

VIN Number Lookup

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a 17-character code assigned to a specific vehicle by the manufacturer. You can learn so much about your automobile if its VIN is known. A VIN lookup is a search that uses a tool to obtain extensive information about the vehicle to which it was assigned. You must have the vehicle identifying number in order to do a VIN lookup. The VIN is often found in the bottom left corner of the dashboard, right in front of the steering wheel. You may be able to see the number if you look through the windshield. The VIN may also be found in the following locations:

  • Front of the car frame
  • Front of the engine block
  • Driver-side doorpost
  • Underneath the spare tire
  • Rear-wheel well
  • Inside the driver-side doorjamb

By conducting a VIN lookup, you can obtain information about the vehicle such as:

  • Past ownership
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Flood damage
  • Accident history
  • Airbag deployments
  • Liens held on the vehicle
  • Faulty odometer settings