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New Jersey Public Records
License Plate Lookup

License Plate Lookup in New Jersey

New Jersey license plate lookup is a process that involves searching to get information on a car and its owner using the license plate number and state as search queries. License plate lookup tools are available in New Jersey. An individual may use a New Jersey license plate lookup tool to view a person's criminal driving records and get any available information on a car before purchasing it. Performing a license plate lookup identifies the driver of a vehicle by providing basic information about them. However, the license plate lookup may only provide limited information because some information is subject to privacy laws. A New Jersey license plate lookup is necessary when buying a used car. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) currently requires persons to display plate numbers of all types produced since 1959. When a person performs a license plate lookup, they may find selected New Jersey traffic records as well as:

  • Limited license plate owner information
  • Driver criminal history
  • Vehicle registration
  • Mileage and odometer readings
  • Title Information
  • Recent vehicle inspection information
  • Car's registration details
  • Vehicle information and description
  • Accident history
  • Repossession history
  • Weather/natural damage
  • Maintenance history

The Motor Vehicle Commission of New Jersey is responsible for vehicle registration and renewal. The commission does not have special requirements for looking up license plates in New Jersey. Persons interested in finding the information vehicles registered to plate numbers may perform license plate lookup online using license plate lookup tools. They may also visit any of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission locations. There are free license plate lookup tools in New Jersey, although these tools only provide limited information. While free license plate lookup tools in New Jersey may come in handy when trying to get basic information like the driver's name or the vehicle type, such tools cannot be used for the detailed driving criminal history of the driver. Some vital information needed when buying a car may also be available only with paid license plate lookup services. Free tools may also not provide information on whether a vehicle owner has transferred his or her license plate from vehicle to vehicle. However, free tools are useful for getting basic information on a driver or vehicle.

What is a New Jersey License Plate?

A New Jersey license plate is a metal or plastic plate sign or tag showing the official set of registration numbers and letters that identifies it. It is affixed to the front and back of a vehicle for official identification purposes. However, in New Jersey, trailers, motorized bicycles, motorcycles, and autocycles receive only one license plate. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission requires its residents to register their motor vehicles, and during this procedure, they are issued the license plates. License plates are compulsory for automobiles/vehicles in New Jersey. A person driving with no registration is subject to a fine of up to $100 in New Jersey. Every type of motorized vehicle used for commercial and personal purposes, including buses, taxes, cars, limousines, must obtain license plates in the state. NJ MVC offers different categories of license plates in New Jersey, including:

  • Standard plates
  • Dedicated Plates (Special Interest)
  • Personalized Plates
  • Specialty Plates (Organizational)
  • Special Vehicle Plates (Historic/Hot Rod)
  • Sports Plates

A license plate basically consists of numbers and letters that identify certain vehicle registration details. For a standard license plate in New Jersey, the first letter is a county code, the second letter is the first initial of the vehicle owner's name, and the third letter is the initial of the vehicle owner's last name. Personalized plates are somewhat different as they may carry the three letters making up the owner's initials. New Jersey recently introduced the Temporary Vehicle Tag service, which was designed and built for dealerships to streamline the process of issuing and managing temporary vehicle tags.

How Do I Get a License Plate in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, a license plate is issued when a person newly registers a vehicle. The registration and title work of a new car in New Jersey will be handled by the dealership the car was purchased from. When a person transfers a vehicle into New Jersey or purchases a used vehicle from an individual owner, auction, or dealership, they must register that vehicle at a New Jersey Motor Vehicle Agency. However, if a person purchases the vehicle with no financing, the dealership may give the person the title paperwork to be filed and transferred along with new registration.

To register a vehicle to get a license plate in New Jersey, schedule an appointment with the agency; walk-in visits are not allowed. When an applicant schedules an appointment, they can choose from any of the locations listed on the NJ MVC Appointment Scheduling portal. An applicant must come along with the following documents during their appointment:

If the purchaser is a company or business, they will also need to provide a Motor Vehicle Commission EIN (Entity Identification Number).

If the vehicle was purchased at auction, and the vehicle is non-titled, the new owner will need to submit the following:

  • Last previously issued registration document
  • Notarized bill of sale
  • Pencil tracing or photograph of the VIN plate

If transferred from a state that issues titles but the titles have no NJ Dealer Tax Stamp, the new owner will need to submit a purchase order.

If transferred from a state that doesn't issue titles, the new owner will need to provide:

  • Last vehicle registration card from the seller
  • Pencil tracing or photo of the VIN
  • Notarized statement from the seller that must include year manufactured, make, VIN, and selling price

A person whose license plate was lost or stolen can replace them with new ones containing the next available number by following these steps:

  1. Make an official police report to the municipality where the plates were stolen and obtain a copy of the report for your records.
  2. Visit a motor vehicle agency and provide the current registration and required identification.
  3. Pay the required $6 fee for standard plates or the $11 fee for special interest /dedicated replacements.

Persons requesting organization license plates or a set of license plates that require approval from a designated authority must complete the Application for License Plates Requiring Approved Authorization. For more details, see the Information Sheet for License Plates Requiring Approval Authorization to contact the Special Plate Unit at (609) 292-6500.

Passenger License Plates vs Commercial License Plates

The main difference between passenger license plates and commercial license plates is the purpose the vehicle is registered for. Unlike passenger license plates, commercial license plates are issued vehicles meant for commercial activities, such as taxis, commercial trailers, farm labor transport, etc. In New Jersey, license plates issued by the Motor Vehicle Commission indicate the type of registered vehicle by words displayed at the bottom of each plate. Passenger license plates usually have "Garden State" at the bottom, below the plate number, while series that begin with the letter X typically refers to a commercial vehicle commercial license plate. T series denotes a trailer, and some S plates signify a school vehicle. However, some passenger vehicle license plate combinations also begin with the letters S, T, or X. What differentiates these particular plates is that, like all other passenger vehicle license plates, the bottom of the plate features the words "Garden State". The requirements for obtaining a passenger license plate are the same as the requirements of obtaining a standard license plate in New Jersey.

The requirements for obtaining a commercial license plate varies depending on the type of commercial license plate required; however, general requirements include:

  • The name of the owner, lessee, or lessor of the vehicle.
  • The name of the municipality in which the owner, lessee, or lessor has their principal place of business.
  • An original letter of authorization or certificate from the local municipality where the vehicle will be operated.

How Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in New Jersey

Individuals seeking to find the owner of a vehicle may conduct a license plate lookup using the vehicle's license plate number. This search will help identify the person linked to a plate. A license plate lookup may be done using a license plate lookup tool. The information obtained from this search may be used to find the owner of the vehicle registered to the license plate through a phone number lookup or by searching DMV records in the state.

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.

New Jersey License Plate Renewal

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission handles license plate registration and renewal. New Jersey license plate renewal can be done online, by mail, or in person. Only specific entities qualify for online renewal, and such entities are mandated to renew their license plate online. Online applicants are required to provide their:

  • Registration renewal form
  • Valid Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Valid insurance card or insurance policy number and your insurance company's 3-digit ID
  • Valid credit card

Online registration renewal involves the following steps:

  1. Log in using a Web browser that supports Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Javascript, such as Netscape Navigator version 7 or Internet Explorer version 6 (or higher).
  2. Enter the vehicle information and the nine-digit PIN at the bottom right corner of your registration renewal form. If there is no PIN on your renewal form, you are not qualified to renew your license online. However, if you lost your PIN, call the NJ MVC to recover it: in-state toll-free, (888) 486-3339; out-of-state, (609) 292-6500.
  3. Enter owner information, including updated address (if necessary), Social Security Number, insurance info, and the number of family duplicates requested.
  4. Select a Special Interest License Plate (if desired).
  5. Pay fees by entering Credit Card information.

Your registration documents will be mailed to you within 7 to 14 days. Before renewing your license plate, ensure to update your mailing address if it has changed since your last registration or renewal. The MJ MVC will mail you a registration renewal notice three months before your current registration expires.

Those that qualify for online registration renewal may renew their licenses by mail or in person. For an in-person application, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule an Appointment
  2. Complete the Application for Vehicle Registration (Form BA-49)

When going for your appointment, ensure to go with the following:

  • Registration Renewal Notice or Vehicle Identification Number.
  • License plate number.
  • Your insurance card or company name and policy number.
  • Power of Attorney if renewing registration for someone else.
  • The amount due indicated in your renewal notice. This fee can be paid by cash, money order, checks (payable to NJMVC), credit or debit card.
  • Proof of ID (Driver's license or other primary ID documents).
  • Completed Form BA-49 Application.

For mail application, fill out both the front and back of the Registration Renewal Notice and include a return envelope in the submission package provided along with the notice. Also, include a check or money order (payable to NJMVC) for the amount due as indicated in your renewal notice. Make sure the address can be seen through the envelope window. Mail submission package to:

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
P.O. Box 160
Trenton, NJ 08666
(609) 292-6500

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes, you can look up a license plate with a VIN, depending on the VIN lookup tool you use. A car's license plate number is linked to its VIN in public vehicle records in New Jersey.

VIN Number Lookup

A vehicle identification number (VIN) lookup involves searching for a vehicle identification number. Anyone can conduct a VIN check using a VIN lookup tool. A VIN number lookup reveals a vehicle's accident history, sale history, ownership history, market value, estimated ownership costs (based on factors including maintenance, fuel, and insurance costs), and other related information. An individual can find a vehicle's VIN on the front of the dashboard on the driver's side, which is most visible through the windshield from outside the car. A VIN may also be found on the driver's side door pillar. A motorcycle's VIN is generally found on the steering neck below the handlebars or on the frame near the motor. A semitrailer's VIN is located on the front part of the semi-trailer on the left side.

Can Civilians Lookup License Plates in New Jersey?

Yes. Civilians can look up information on license plates for vehicles in New Jersey. However, the New Jersey government does not provide an official platform for individuals to use this function. Only law enforcement officers have access to license plate information through agency databases.

Civilians interested in doing a license plate lookup in New Jersey may use information service providers. These providers are independent of government agencies and provide license information based on data aggregated from multiple sources.

That said, the information obtained from third party sources may not be used to assess credit worthiness, employment background check, or official purposes. Individuals may, however, use the results of New Jersey license plate lookup to satisfy their personal curiosity.

What Do Police See When They Run Your Plates in New Jersey?

The information available to police officers when they run a license plate typically include:

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

Police officers typically run license plates in traffic stops, especially when there is probable cause. For example, if the driver had been speeding or found to be driving under the influence. The tools the police use for their license plate search are different from what is available to civilians through aggregate sources. Law enforcement officers often use automated license plate readers (ALPRs) that connect to and pull information from agency databases.

The law enforcement officer doing the search will see the vehicle information, including the year of manufacture, VIN, license expiration date, and the name of the registered owner. In addition, they will also have access to the driver’s information, including their biodata and physical description, social security number, and contact information. In many cases, an 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 they get are publicly available through other sources. One 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 sequestered from public knowledge.

Free License Plate Lookup in New Jersey

Aggregate websites that provide license plate lookup services typically charge a fee for the service. However, there are free options available to persons interested in looking up a New Jersey plate.

Most people use search engines to conduct a free license plate lookup. Entering the license plate number directly in the search bar may provide information already available on the web regarding 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 a search engine. 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. In many cases, the searcher will be able to access basic information 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 New Jersey

New Jersey drivers looking for lost or unpaid traffic tickets may use the search tool, NJMCDirect, provided by their local municipal court or county court. New Jersey Courts also provide a Municipal Court Case Search (MCCS) tool that interested persons may use to find unresolved tickets. Both portals support searches by name, ticket number, and license plate number.



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