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Indiana Public Records
License Plate Lookup

License Plate Lookup in Indiana

An Indiana license plate lookup involves using a license plate number to retrieve information about a vehicle and may also provide information about the criminal driving records of the driver. A license plate lookup can be conducted by law enforcement or other residents. Law enforcement may do a license plate lookup to see if there are outstanding warrants for the owner, parking tickets, or other issues that they need to be aware of before approaching the vehicle and the driver. Typically, license plates are associated with vehicle registrations by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles which per regulations allows some of the information kept in the database to be publicly accessible.

There are several reasons why you may want to look up a license plate number. For instance, you may be curious about the results that appear when you look up your own plate number. You may want to verify that you do not have any outstanding parking or speeding citations that might jeopardize your ability to renew your license. If you hit another car in a parking lot, you may want to look up the license plate number to contact the owner and arrange compensation. A license plate lookup can assist persons looking to acquire a used car in Indiana to determine the vehicle's worth and decide whether to purchase the automobile.

Typically, when you look up a license plate number, you can see Indiana traffic records including the following:

  • Vehicle make, model, trim level, and year
  • Vehicle manufacturer
  • Warranty information
  • Accident history
  • Branded title
  • Maintenance history
  • Mileage
  • The driver's criminal history
  • Driving infractions (like DUIs and reckless driving)
  • If the car has been repossessed
  • Damage due to flood, fire, accident, or hail

In Indiana, you may do a license plate search through the state's Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) or third-party web services. Appointments with the BMV may be necessary to conduct the plate lookup. However, vehicle history reports or information obtained from the BMV are typically updated and accurate. On the other hand, information obtained from third-party internet sites, especially from vendors providing the service for free, may offer basic information only, which may be imprecise.

What is an Indiana License Plate?

An Indiana license plate is a unique number plate issued to vehicles registered with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) for identification purposes. Indiana license plates must be affixed to the rear of registered vehicles. Indiana vehicles must display text, numbers, and stickers fully visible and not obscured or obstructed by any section of the vehicle or other foreign materials, such as covers or plate frames. The state also requires number plates to be securely fastened in a horizontal position at a height not less than 12 inches above the ground, measuring from the bottom of the license plates.

The following vehicle types are required to display license plates on the front of the vehicles:

  • Tractor
  • Dump truck
  • Trucks with a rear-mounted forklift or any mechanism to carry a rear-mounted forklift or implement

Indiana requires that any provisional or interim license plate issued by a dealer, manufacturer, or the BMV must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle or fastened on the left side of the window facing the rear of the motor vehicle. The interim license plate must be unobstructed and clearly visible.

An Indiana license plate must have an indicator or sticker in the top right-hand corner displaying the year in which the registration expires and must be renewed. A sticker must be in the top left-hand corner displaying the month and day the registration expires and must be renewed. In the bottom right-hand corner, the plate must display a sticker to show the county in which the vehicle is registered.

The Indiana BMV issues standard license plates and specialty license plates with various themes, such as military, organization, colleges and universities, and personalized number plates. Fleet vehicles and special machinery may also be issued unique license plates.

Passenger License Plates vs. Commercial License Plates

Indiana issues passenger plates to passenger vehicles through the BMV. Passenger vehicles are privately registered vehicles, while the state considers a vehicle a commercial motor vehicle depending on its gross vehicle weight rating and usage. A vehicle's gross weight rating is determined by the manufacturer and can be found on the inside of the vehicle's door and does not vary depending on the vehicle use.

A commercial motor vehicle must fulfill one of the qualifications:

  • A gross combined weight rating of 11,794 kilograms (26,001 pounds), whichever is larger, inclusive of towed unit(s) having a gross vehicle weight rating of at least 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds), whichever is more.
  • A gross vehicle weight or gross vehicle weight rating of 11,794 kilograms (26,001 pounds) or more, whichever is larger.
  • Any vehicle that does not meet either of the first two requirements but can transport 16 or more people, including the driver, or is used to carry hazardous items.

The requirements for obtaining a passenger license plate are the same as obtaining a standard license plate in Indiana. The commercial vehicles page of the BMV website contains no specific steps in obtaining commercial license plates in the state.

How Do I Get a License Plate in Indiana?

The process to obtain license plates in Indiana is initiated when you register your vehicle with the Indiana BMV. Per vehicle registration regulations in the state, an Indiana resident who purchases a vehicle from another resident in the state requires a new registration from the title. The state requires that all newly acquired unregistered vehicles be registered within 45 days after the date of acquisition. Also, all vehicles owned by an individual must be registered within 60 days of becoming a new resident. Persons changing their legal addresses during the transaction must show two proofs of address.

You may complete vehicle registrations in Indiana online, at an FSP/PSP location, BMV branch, or any BMV Connect Kiosks.

If you have purchased your vehicle from a dealer located in Indiana and received your title or notification from the dealer, you will require the following to title your vehicle:

  • Completed and signed vehicle title or notification from the dealer.
  • Bill of sale or purchase order. This is necessary if the title is not filled out completely.
  • Odometer disclosure statement Form 43230. This form is required if the odometer statement is not entirely filled out on the certificate of title or certificate of origin.
  • Physical Inspection Form. Form 39530. This form applies to out-of-state vehicles when the owners do not bring the vehicles to the branch or when the VIN plate is not easily accessible or viewable.
  • Proof of Identity. Persons who have never completed any transaction with the BMV are advised to review the requirements on the Indiana RealID.

After titling, the following will be required at vehicle registration:

  • Statement of Existing Lease Agreement (Form 12787). This form is required if the form is a lease vehicle.
  • Emissions test. This is only required in Porter and Lake Counties.
  • Proof of insurance.

The applicable registration fees are listed in the Indiana BMV Fee Chart. To personalize a standard plate, there is an additional $45 fee. For more information about vehicle registration and license plate process, contact the BMV by electronic mail or send a mail to:

Indiana Government Center North
Room 402
100 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (888) 692-6841

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

A license plate lookup may be done to determine the owner of a vehicle registered with an Indiana license plate. An Indiana license plate lookup will provide publicly available information on a license plate issued by the state's BMV. Although this information will not include the vehicle owner's name or contact information (to protect the owner's privacy), it usually contains other data that helps identify the vehicle owner. You can find the vehicle owner by contacting the Indiana BMV and requesting a record search.

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.

Indiana License Plate Renewal

Indiana license plates are renewed when the vehicle registrations are renewed. Renewals may be completed:

  • At BMV Connect Kiosks.
  • At BMV branches.
  • Full-Service Provider or Partial-Service Provider locations.
  • By mail. This may be done by mailing renewal notices and payment to the address provided on the renewal notices.
  • Over the phone. You may call (888) 692-6841 to complete renewals. You will be required to provide your zip code for each vehicle listed and the phone access code listed on your myBMV account or your renewal notice. Note that is method can not be used to renew registrations and plates for vehicles weighing over 26,000 lbs., all special group recognition plates, and any other vehicles requiring additional forms upon renewal.
  • Online at myBMV. This method can not be used to renew registrations and plates for vehicles weighing over 26,000 lbs., all special group recognition plates, and any other vehicles requiring additional forms upon renewal.

To avoid a $15 administrative penalty, registrations must be renewed on or before their scheduled expiry date. You must provide two proofs of address if you change your legal address during the transaction. Renewal fees are listed in the Indiana BMV Fee Chart.

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) may be used to lookup license plates. While completing registration with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the process also requires registrants to present information about the vehicle and the owner, which the BMV will keep. Therefore, if a VIN is known, it is possible to obtain information about the license plate associated with the VIN.

Indiana VIN Number Lookup

The VIN, known as the Vehicle Identification Number, is a unique 17-character code that distinctly identifies a vehicle. An Indiana VIN lookup is a search conducted by inputting a known vehicle identification number in a lookup tool to obtain comprehensive information about a vehicle. You can obtain information about thefts, changes in the serial equipment, odometer rollback, and collisions and accidents concerning a vehicle if the VIN is known.

To conduct a VIN, you must first find out the number. There are several locations in a vehicle where you can find a VIN. A VIN can be found in the bottom left corner of the windscreen, the trunk, or on the chassis plate. The spare tire or the inside of the driver-side door may also bear the vehicle identification number.

Obtaining extensive information about a vehicle's history through a VIN lookup can be helpful when deciding to purchase a used vehicle.

Can Civilians Lookup License Plates in Indiana?

Yes. Interested persons in Indiana can lookup information on license plates by using online license plate search tools. However, the information available to civilians is limited compared to the information available to police officers through inter-agency databases.

Persons interested in doing a license plate lookup in Indiana may use third-party information service providers. These providers are independent sources of license information. As such, the information obtained from such sources may not be used to assess credit worthiness or perform background checks. The results of Indiana license plate lookup may only be used to satisfy personal curiosity.

What Do Police See When They Run Your Plates in Indiana?

Police officers typically run license plates in traffic stops, especially when an officer has probable cause. The tools law enforcement use for their license plate search are different from what is available to civilians through aggregate sources. Police officers often use automated license plate readers (ALPRs) that pull information from agency databases.

The information available to police officers typically include:

  • Vehicle information
  • Driving status
  • Criminal history
  • Outstanding warrants

Law enforcement officers who run a plate will see the vehicle information, including the year of manufacture, VIN, license expiration date, and the registered owner’s name. In addition, they will see the driver’s information, including their biodata, social security number, and contact address. Furthermore, the officer may also access the driver’s criminal history as well as tickets and outstanding warrants on the vehicle, its registered owner, or the driver.

While the public may not have access to the databases law enforcement officers use for license plate lookup, a lot of the information is publicly available through other sources. A major difference is that civilian searchers may have to use multiple sources to pool the information. Furthermore, sensitive information like the driver’s social security number and house address may be restricted from the public for privacy reasons.

Free License Plate Lookup in Indiana

Interested persons may use third-party aggregate sites to lookup license plates in Indiana. Aggregate websites that provide license plate lookup services typically charge a fee for the service. However, it may be possible to look up an Indiana license plate for free.

Most people use search engines to conduct a free license plate lookup. Entering the license plate number directly may provide information already available on the web on that plate. However, there is no guarantee that the search results will be useful.

Alternatively, an interested person may search for “free license plate search” on the search engine instead. The search results will provide a list of third party websites that provide license plate lookup for free. Many of these free sites, however, limit the information available for free searches. Usually, the searcher will be able to access basic details like the vehicle description and owner’s name. Obtaining additional information would require paying for the service.

How to Search for Ticket by License Plate in Indiana

There is no official way to find tickets by license plate through official databases. Drivers in Indiana looking for lost or unpaid traffic tickets may contact the county court in the location where the ticket was issued. Still, it may be possible to find unpaid tickets by doing license plate searches on independent websites.



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