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Maryland License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in Maryland

Maryland License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in Maryland
December 5, 2022

License plates in Maryland are metallic registration plates allocated to automobiles and must be shown on the vehicle for registration and identification. 


Until recently, Maryland deployed the use of two plates, which means most automobiles had to show front and back license plates. 

However, in October 2020, HB 1264 was brought into effect by the state, which revoked the need for vehicles to have front and back registration plates. 


As a result, Maryland now only requires rear license plates on most automobiles.

Maryland's current standard-issue license plate is a 12 by 6-inch design released on September 26, 2016. 


The Maryland Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) issues license plates throughout the state. 

This department issues different types of License plates in Maryland, which include agricultural license plates, combat-related license plates, disability license plates, military license plates, gold star license plates, business license plates (logo and non-logo), and personalized license plates. 

The Maryland standard license plate, usually issued to passenger vehicles, features a black embossed serial number on a reflective white plate design.


In addition, the State of Maryland flag is scanned in the bottom half of the plate, and "Maryland" is placed in red in the center of the plate.

In Maryland, vehicle owners must return issued license plates to the Department of Transportation if they move to another state, if the vehicle insurance expires and is not renewed, or if the vehicle is sold to another owner.

a cabinet drawer full of files

Applying for Maryland License Plates

Every vehicle owned and driven by Maryland residents must be registered with the Department of Transportation MVA to apply for a license plate. 


In addition, as a new resident in Maryland, you are mandated to apply for a Maryland Title and vehicle registration within 60 days of relocating to the state. 

You can apply for your license plates and vehicle registration in person at the closest county MVA Office or online on the MVA Website with the necessary documents and fees. 


The following documents are required for vehicle registration in Maryland:

* Completed Vehicle Registration and Title Application forms (VR-005)
* Completed VR-217 form if there is a paid lien on the vehicle
* Evidence of vehicle insurance
* Proof of ownership in the form of a bill of sale.
* Odometer disclosure statement (VR-197)
* Lease agreement (where applicable)
* Power of Attorney (If you are completing the registration on someone's behalf)
* Valid Maryland Safety Inspection certificate
* Required Fees

Why Should I Look Up a Maryland License Plate?

A license plate lookup is a search that is often performed when a person plans to purchase a second-hand vehicle. 


It can also be utilized by a witness to a car crime or accident to gather the information that can be used to file a complaint with law enforcement. 

You can also lookup a license plate in Maryland to access the traffic records of the vehicle. 

a man handing over car keys to another man


Other details that you might find in a License plate lookup in Maryland include the following:

* Vehicle branded title
* Damage report
* Vehicle registration issues
* Vehicle inspection records
* Vehicle owner criminal records
* Odometer readings 
* Vehicle description and information such as Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

Search Maryland License Plate: How to Do It?

1. In Maryland, the Motor Vehicle Administration of the Department of Transportation is the first point of contact. Looking up a license plate in Maryland using the MVA requires you to complete the Vehicle Records Form, the DR-057 (01-18) request. 

The Maryland Department of Transportation issues this form, which costs $12 for certified documents and $9 for uncertified records. You can also visit any State's Motor Vehicle Administration Office to make your request. 


Records are kept by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and the Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA). 

It should be emphasized, however, that unless you are a law enforcement officer or legal representative or have signed authorization from the owner of the car you are searching for, you will need a legitimate authorized usage to verify that your inquiry is legal. 


In addition, the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) protects civilian information from being leaked without justification.

2. Public third-party websites can also provide quick searches for information about a vehicle's make, model, year, mechanical details, and so on, using only the license plate number. 

The limitation you might encounter with these websites is the ability to obtain any personally identifying information associated with the owner of a vehicle. Also, these websites can be free or paid.

3. Hiring a private investigator is another option for looking up a license plate in Maryland. 


The investigators have direct access to the Department of Transportation database and can perform a license plate check and give you a detailed report. Again, this is a more costly but faster solution.

a license plate that reads new


In Maryland, you must renew your vehicle registration before renewing your license plate. 


Typically, vehicle registrations are suitable for two years. Vehicle registrations can be renewed via eMVA, mail, county treasurer's offices, and title service agents. 

Furthermore, License plates can be transferred to a newly purchased vehicle if the same person owns both cars, have the same registration classification, and the old vehicle has been sold, exchanged, junked, or thrown.

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