North Dakota License Plate Lookup

License Plate Lookup in North Dakota

Performing a license plate lookup means searching a public database using a vehicle plate number as the search parameter. It helps identify the license plate owner and discloses other information on the vehicle registered to the license plate. Several online sites offer free license lookups, while others are paid services. A free license plate lookup in North Dakota will reveal a vehicle's make, year, model, trim level, and color. However, such information may not be entirely accurate. A free license plate lookup in North Dakota will not disclose a license plate owner's confidential information, such as birth date, address, or social security number. Details obtained from most paid license plate lookup tools are usually accurate and reliable. Paid license plate lookup services also provide additional information that free license plate lookup services will not.

The Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of the North Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) offers a paid vehicle lookup service. Anyone interested in looking up a license plate in North Dakota can use the MVD option or engage a private investigator to assist. A license plate lookup is particularly helpful for someone who intends to purchase a used vehicle in North Dakota because it will reveal selected North Dakota traffic records as well as the following information:

  • Ownership history
  • Current market value
  • Vehicle's maintenance history
  • odometer readings
  • Available warranty
  • Inspection history
  • Accident history
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Registration issues
  • Whether it has ever been reported stolen

What is a North Dakota License Plate?

A license plate is a form of tag affixed to the front or rear (or both) of a motor vehicle containing a set of characters known as plate numbers. It is either metal or plastic, serving as a vehicle identity. Per Chapter 39-04-11 of the North Dakota Century Code, each motor vehicle in the state must have two license plates, one at the rear and the other affixed on the front part of the vehicle. The only exceptions are motorcycles and trailers whose only license plates must be attached conspicuously to their rear parts. In North Dakota, license plates issued by the DOT are the department's property for the duration for which the plates are valid.

Typically, North Dakota license plates bear the state's name (abbreviated or full), the slogan, Peace Garden State, and the year's number. The Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of the North Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) issues license plates under three broad categories. These are:

  1. Standard License Plates - These plates are regular tags issued to persons who do not want anything special after registering their motor vehicles. The numbers on these plates are usually a combination of five to seven alphanumeric characters on plates appearing in gold and blue colors.
  2. Personalized License Plates - These license plates allow a person to decide a plate number combination of their choice. Such numbers may comprise up to seven characters, including numbers, symbols, and letters, but they must be reasonable.
  3. Specialty License Plates - North Dakota specialty license plates are issued to veterans, members of the military, and other organizations. Examples of specialty license plates in North Dakota are firefighter plates, mobility-impaired plates, veteran army plates, and veteran navy plates. Others include future farmers of America plates, gold star family plates, choose life plates, and North Dakota University license plates.

How Do I Get a License Plate in North Dakota?

An individual must register their motor vehicle with the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of the North Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) to get the state's license plate. To do so, the MVD requires an applicant to complete an Application for Certificate and Registration of a Vehicle Form (Form SFN 2872) and provide the following:

  • Proof of legal name such as a driver's license.
  • A certificate of origin (if the vehicle is brand new).
  • Proof of valid North Dakota insurance policy.
  • Vehicle title and the 5% excise tax. An applicant who cannot provide a title, possibly because of financing, must furnish the MVD with the following documents and information:
    • Lienholder's name and address
    • Evidence of payment of the 5% excise tax
    • Loan account number
  • Out-of-state registration document.
  • Odometer disclosure statement jointly signed by the buyer and dealer.
  • Damage Disclosure Statement Form (SFN 18609) signed by the seller and buyer, if vehicle modem is less than nine years old.
  • Payment of registration fees. The amount depends on the vehicle's weight and the year it was first registered (for a used vehicle). Applicants can contact the DMV at (701) 328-2725 or via email for inquiries on motor vehicle registration fees.

Applicants should submit completed application forms and required documentation, with payments in person at:

Motor Vehicle Division
North Dakota Department of Transportation
608 E Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0780

New-to-state residents in North Dakota must transfer the vehicle title from their previous states and register their motor vehicles with the MVD. However, North Dakota exempts military personnel and full-time out-of-state students from vehicle registration, but they must have their home state's current license plates. The DOT provides a complete guide on North Dakota Vehicle Registration.

Passenger License Plates vs Commercial License Plates

Commercial license plates are used by vehicles that operate primarily for commercial purposes. In contrast, passenger license plates are affixed to private motor vehicles and those used for carrying people for hire. According to Chapter 39-06.2-02 of the North Dakota Century Code, any motor vehicle designed to transport goods and passengers satisfying the following conditions qualify as a commercial vehicle:

  • Transports sixteen or more passengers, including the driver.
  • Gross weight rating or gross vehicle rate is more than 26,000 pounds, whichever is greater.
  • Transports hazardous materials.
  • Gross combination weight or rating is 26,00 pounds or more, whichever is greater. This is provided the towed unit has a gross weight or rating of more than 10,000 pounds, whichever is greater.

The requirements for obtaining commercial and passenger license plates in North Dakota are outlined in the state's vehicle registration guide provided by the DOT.

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

A license plate lookup can help identify the vehicle or a person linked to a license plate in North Dakota. However, many online free license plate lookup tools in the state will not reveal some personal identifying information of a license plate owner. So, many people wonder how to check the owner of a vehicle in North Dakota using a free license plate lookup service. Some online license plate lookup tools may disclose the phone numbers registered to license plates. Anyone can, in turn, query a phone number lookup database using the phone number obtained from their search on a license plate lookup tool to retrieve a vehicle owner's identity.

Per Chapter 39-33-05 of the North Dakota Century Code, anyone with proof of identity can request the personal information of a person registered to a motor vehicle. Such an individual should complete a Request For Vehicle Information Form (SFN 51269) and submit it by mail with payment proof of the required fee to:

Motor Vehicle Division
North Dakota Department of Transportation
608 E Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0780

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.

North Dakota License Plate Renewal

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) mails out vehicle registration renewal notices (renewal invoice) to vehicle owners before they expire. Persons who wish to renew their vehicle registrations, hence, license plates in the state, can use the online Motor Vehicle Registration Renewal Portal designed by the DOT. However, registration renewals for apportioned vehicles or trucks weighing 55,000 pounds and more cannot be processed via this portal.

The owner of a vehicle eligible for online renewal in North Dakota must provide their invoice number (on renewal invoice) or license plate number and title number written on their current registration card. Online payment using a debit or credit card is permitted for this process. The online renewal process takes between 5 to 10 days, within which the DOT will deliver an applicant's new registration card.

Registration renewal for vehicles that do not qualify for online renewal in North Dakota should be done in person or via mail. Applicants can submit their signed renewal invoice and required payment at/to the local Motor Vehicle Division office advised on the renewal notice.

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

It is possible to lookup a vehicle's license plate using its VIN (vehicle identification number). Generally, VINs are linked to vehicles' license plate numbers in the public vehicle records. This also applies in North Dakota.

VIN Number Lookup

VIN lookup is the process of investigating a vehicle using its VIN in a bid to uncover information about the vehicle owner and/or the motor vehicle itself. VINs are the 17-character code embossed on various parts of an automobile serving as manufacturers' way of identifying vehicles produced by them. They are uniquely assigned for every motor vehicle manufactured and contain a combination of upper case letters and numbers.

VIN lookups can be conducted online using free VIN lookup tools offered by government agencies and third-party companies. For instance, anyone can perform a VIN lookup using the free VIN search tool provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A person who wishes to conduct a VIN lookup will find the number on a vehicle's dashboard (driver side), sticker on the driver side door pole or safety belt, and the engine block. People conduct VIN lookups to obtain information such as:

  • Vehicle mileage
  • Market price
  • Ownership history and undisclosed issues (for used vehicles)
  • Theft records
  • Accident history
  • Fire or water damage