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Minnesota License Plate Lookup

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License Plate Lookup in Minnesota

A Minnesota license plate lookup is the process of running a license plate number against an online directory to retrieve details about the person or vehicle registered to the license plate. A Minnesota license plate lookup can return vital information on a motor vehicle like its model year, VIN, odometer readings, mileage, and accident history. It can also show selected Minnesota traffic records, inspection history, theft reports, repairs, recalls, and the vehicle's title.

When someone wants to purchase a used vehicle in Minnesota, conducting a license plate lookup can help reveal the identity of the license plate owner and the car's market value. They can negotiate better prices and avoid buying stolen vehicles with this information. Anyone can conduct a free license plate lookup in Minnesota using online databases that provide such services. Alternatively, they can hire private investigators or obtain license plate information from the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) Division under the Department of Public Safety. Paid license lookup in Minnesota usually returns current and accurate details about a motor vehicle and its owner. On the other hand, free license plate lookup searches might return incomplete and sometimes inaccurate data.

What is a Minnesota License Plate?

A license plate is a tag containing a unique combination of numbers and letters that identify a vehicle. Section 169.79(6) of the Minnesota Statutes requires all motor vehicles to have two license plates, one displayed on the vehicle's rear and the other at the back. However, motorcycles, semi-trailers, trailers weighing at least 3,000 pounds, and vehicles with dealer license plates can have only one license plate attached to the rear. Also, Section 169.79(5) requires farm trucks, truck tractors, and road tractors to have one license plate attached to the front. Section 169.79(4) of the Minnesota Statutes permits car owners with collector's license plates to affix either one (on the rear) or two license plates at their discretion.

The Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) offers various categories of license plates, including:

  • Commercial license plates: These are for commercial vehicles.
  • Standard license plates: These license plates are issued for passenger vehicles, including pickup trucks and vans.
  • Dealer permits: These license plates are temporary permits issued by Minnesota car dealers to residents who purchased vehicles and are awaiting their permanent license plates.
  • Dealer license plates: The DVS issues these plates to Minnesota motor vehicle dealers.
  • Motorcycle/moped license plates: These license plates are issued to moped and motorcycle owners.
  • Disability license plates: The DVS issues this type of license plate to physically disabled persons, owners of commercial vehicles used exclusively by disabled people, and parents or guardians of permanently disabled minors.
  • Prorate license plates: These license plates are for tractors and trucks. The DVS issues these license plates based on a vehicle's weight.
  • Personalized license plates: These are available for owners of passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and pickup trucks, who want to select their license plate characters.
  • Special registration license plates: These license plates are for vehicles that are subject to license plate impoundment under Section 169A.60 and Section 168.041 of the Minnesota Statutes.
  • Recreational license plates: These license plates are for trailers and self-propelled vehicles used as temporary homes.
  • Specialized license plates: These are issued to army veterans, car collectors, firefighter and ambulance volunteers, and other persons providing special services in Minnesota.
  • Tax-exempt local license plates: These are for vehicles used by political offices, ambulances, non-profit charities, disaster response operators, and educational institutions.

The Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) also issues other types of license plates to Minnesota vehicle owners. Dealer license plates and license plates for passenger vehicles must be replaced after seven years. However, other categories of license plates do not need replacement, but they require renewal.

How Do I Get a License Plate in Minnesota?

New Minnesota residents with valid license plates from their previous states must register their vehicles with the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) within 60 days and obtain new license plates. However, anyone with an expired license plate or who submitted it in their former state before relocating to Minnesota must immediately apply for a new one with the DVS. If a car has multiple owners, only one owner should apply.

To obtain a license plate from the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS), an interested person should:

  • Complete a PS2000 Form (Application to Title and Register a Motor Vehicle). They can also get the form from any DVS Deputy Registrar Office statewide.
  • Provide the current vehicle title as proof of vehicle ownership. The DVS also accepts the current vehicle registration card if the title is unavailable.
  • Complete a PS2017 Form (Notification of Assignment, Release, or Grant of Secured Interest) if the vehicle title indicates a lien that has been paid.
  • Provide the vehicle's current odometer readings.
  • Provide a valid photo identification.
  • Submit a copy of the vehicle leasing agreement.
  • Show proof of car insurance in line with the provisions of Section 65B.48 of the Minnesota Statutes.
  • Pay an $11 filing fee.
  • Pay a license plate fee of $15.5 for double plates or $13.5 for a single plate.

License plate applicants in Minnesota may submit the required documentation and fees through any of the following channels:

  • In-person: To submit in person, an applicant should visit any DVS Deputy Registrar's Office in the state.
  • Mail: Applicants can mail their documents to:

Driver and Vehicle Services Central Office
Town Square Building
445 Minnesota Street
Saint Paul, MN 55101-5160

Passenger License Plates vs. Commercial License Plates

A passenger license plate is attached to motor vehicles used primarily to give passengers rides for non-profit reasons. Conversely, a Minnesota commercial license plate is tagged to automobiles used for business purposes, including truck-mounted street sweepers and concrete pumpers. In Minnesota, a vehicle with a passenger license plate cannot carry more than 15 persons at once, including the driver. Getting passenger and commercial license plates in Minnesota has the same requirements as obtaining license plates for new residents. However, the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) determines the charges for commercial vehicles based on their gross weights.

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

The Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) accepts requests to view license plate records, but not everyone can access them. Only government agency employees, law enforcement officers, court officials, attorneys, private investigators, and the license plate owner's employers or business partners can view such records. Anyone contemplating how to check the owner of a vehicle in Minnesota can complete a PS2502 Form (Record Request Form), attach a copy of their valid identification, and mail it to:

Driver and Vehicle Services
Records Unit
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 161
Saint Paul, MN 55101-5161

An individual can also call the records unit of the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) at (651) 296-2940 or (651) 282-6555 (TTY) to make inquiries on how to check the owner of a license plate in Minnesota. They can also conduct an online license plate lookup and use the information retrieved for further searches. For example, if someone obtains the vehicle owner's phone number, they can run a phone number lookup to find the vehicle owner.

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.

Minnesota License Plate Renewal

A Minnesota license plate is valid for one year. The Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) is responsible for renewing license plates. A license plate expiration month is written on the left corner of the plate, and the expiration year is on the lower right corner for a vehicle owner to keep abreast of their due date. Nevertheless, the DVS mails license plate renewal notices to car owners one month before expiry.

A Minnesota car owner who wants to renew their license plate should:

  • Review the data on their renewal notice and enter their current address (if they relocated permanently)
  • Detach the license plate renewal form from the notice
  • Attach the renewal fee (as a money order or check payable to DVS Renewal) to the renewal form
  • Enclose the renewal form and payment in the envelope with which they received the renewal notice and mail to:

DVS Renewal
P.O. Box 64587
Saint Paul, MN 55164-0587

The processing time for Minnesota license plate renewal is about 10 days, but it may take longer if the applicant changes address. Vehicle owners who changed their names must visit the DVS office to renew their license plates in person.

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes, anyone can look up Minnesota license plates using VINs. The Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) links license plate numbers with vehicles' VINs during registration.

Minnesota VIN Number Lookup

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a unique identifying number that vehicle manufacturers assign to motor vehicles. A Minnesota VIN lookup involves searching for information about a vehicle using its VIN. VIN lookup usually returns valuable information about vehicles, such as their owner histories, odometer readings, and fire or water damage. Motor vehicles typically have their VINs on the dashboards. Other places to find VINs are on the engine block, the driver's doorpost, and the vehicle's title.

Can Civilians Lookup License Plates in Minnesota?

Yes, civilians are permitted to search for driver's records via a license plate in Minnesota. This can be done by contacting Driver and Vehicle Services under the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Individuals may request their own driver’s or vehicle’s records but may not be able to obtain another driver’s records. Requests based on license plate lookup can be made online, in person, or over the phone.

Under Minnesota Statute 168.36 and the United States Code, title 18, section 2721, the release of certain information from motor vehicle records is prohibited. Such personal information can only be accessed with the permission of the subject of the record. Sometimes written permission from the subject of the record will be required before the record is issued. Personal information such as the name and address of the registered driver may be classified as private data. This means they may not be disclosed unless it is a case of physical safety security of drivers, pedestrians, and property. Civilians who want to request are advised to confirm that they are eligible to access such records.

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

During a traffic stop, Minnesota law enforcement officers may run a vehicle's license plates through their database. Whenever this is done, the officers will receive several different bits of information about the vehicles and their registered owners. The first information usually received is basic information about the vehicle the license plates are registered to. This will include the vehicle's make, age, model, model year, color, registered owner, current registered status, and VIN. If the vehicle or its plates are stolen, the officers will also receive an alert.

The officer can also bring up further information about the vehicle's registered owner. They can access further information, including the owner’s name, date of birth, address, social security number, and physical attributes like eye color and height. The owner’s driving status, such as tickets or suspended licenses, will also be displayed. The officer can even access more in-depth information, such as any outstanding warrants and criminal history.

Even though the officers can access the personal information of the vehicle’s registered owner, not everything is open to public disclosure. Any personal information they access during the stop cannot be disclosed to the public. Disclosure of information such as addresses and social security numbers is illegal and considered a breach of personal privacy.

Free License Plate Lookup in Minnesota

There are many methods to look up driver information via license plates in Minnesota. One of the best options available is to contact the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services under their Department of Public Safety. Using the resources of these official bodies will normally require fees. Some third-party websites provide free options for license plate lookups. Although the information provided by these sites is free, users should consider that it may not be current or complete.

How to Search for Tickets by License Plate in Minnesota

Interested individuals may request information associated with Minnesota license plates from the Minnesota Department of Safety. The Division of Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) is responsible for answering record requests based on different criteria, such as license plates.

Drivers can request information by calling Driver Services or Vehicle Services at (651) 297-3298 or (651) 297-2126, respectively. The information can be obtained online from the Driver and Vehicle Services search page. Simply select license plates in Step One of the search and follow the rest of the instructions.