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Texas License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in Texas

Texas License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in Texas
December 8, 2022

Vehicle license plates are crucial instruments used in maintaining safety on highways and roads. 


Every state in the United States is required to operate a license plate issuing system, and the state of Texas is no different. 

Texas license plates are used to keep track of vehicles and who they belong to. 


The license plates contain valuable information that can easily be retrieved during accidents, trespassing, or criminal activity. 

Using the alphanumeric characters on the plates, you can easily retrieve details on a vehicle and its past and present owners. 


The process of recovering valuable information through a license plate is called license plate lookup. 

Read on to learn about Texas license plates, why you need to conduct a license plate lookup and how to perform a Texas license plate lookup.

a man handing over car keys to another man

Administration of Texas License Plates

Texas license plates contain unique alphanumeric characters used in tracking and identifying a vehicle and its owner. 


Texas is a two-plate state; this means that vehicle owners are provided with two license plates attached to the vehicle's front and rear sides. 

However, the state requires only rear plates for antique vehicles, trailers, and motorcycles. 


The state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for issuing license plates to vehicle owners after registration. 

The department issues license plates featuring various designs. For instance, in 2009, the department introduced the Panoramic and Lone Star license plate design. 


This design is renowned for its full-plate graphic design and vibrant colors. 

The present and official license plate design is the Texas Classic. The design was first introduced in 2012 and contains a star emblem on the upper left in a light-blue color. 


It also features two security threats bands embedded inside the plate's sheeting. 

The thread helps law enforcement authorities to verify the authenticity of plates. 


Texas is the first state to introduce a license plate bearing such attributes in the United States.  

The placement of license plates is overseen by the Department of Public Safety in accordance with the provisions of Section 504.943 of the Texas Transportation Code. 


According to the law, passenger vehicles must attach two license plates on both the front and rear sides of the vehicles. 

The plates must be horizontally attached at 12 inches above the ground. If a vehicle does not have a rear or front license plate, such a vehicle can be stopped by a law enforcement agent. 


Additionally, if the license plate is not very clear from 50 feet at night, you may be charged with violating Section 546.322 of the state's Transportation Code. 

The standard format of Texas license plates is ABC-1234. Common types of Texas license plates include:

* Souvenir license plates
* General issue license plates
* Specialty license plates

a hand signing a paper with car keys on it

Why You Need to Conduct a Texas License Plate Lookup?

License plate lookup is a crucial part of purchasing second-hand vehicles. It provides you with details concerning a vehicle's history and its owners. 


Here are some of the reasons why you need to carry out a license plate search:

It helps Determine if the Vehicle is Stolen or Not

With one vehicle stolen every 45 seconds in America, there is a real chance that you are likely to purchase a stolen or missing vehicle. 


To save yourself from the stress of being pulled over by law enforcement agencies, it is imperative for you to conduct a license plate lookup. 


A license plate lookup will help determine if the seller or car dealer has a valid title that they can transfer. It also provides records of past owners, and you can always contact such persons for inquiries. 

It helps in Preventing Odometer and Mileage Manipulation

Some unscrupulous vehicle dealers or sellers manipulate a vehicle's mileage or odometer readings to help sell more second-hand vehicles at relatively exorbitant prices. 


Odometer scams can lead to costly maintenance and repair bills, suspicious service records, and wrong vehicle value projections. 


Retrieving a car's history using a Texas license plate lookup will help determine the correct mileage and odometer readings, as provided by inspections and service records. 

Verify if the Vehicle is Connected with any Loans or Liens

Generally, most second-hand vehicles are linked with loans and liens arising from past owners who used them as loan collaterals. 


You do not want to purchase a vehicle that belongs to a Texas bank or with outstanding debts. Therefore, ensure the vehicle is without any financial encumbrances by conducting a Texas license plate lookup today.

Determine the True Market Value of the Vehicle 

Most dealers usually sell second-hand vehicles at exorbitant prices to unsuspecting buyers. 


To avoid falling into this trap, always review the market value of the vehicle you wish to buy. A license plate lookup provides you with a vehicle's full specifications and actual market value. 

How to Conduct a Texas License Plate Lookup:

There are two techniques for performing a license plate lookup in Texas. They include:

Visiting the Texas Department of Vehicles

The Texas Public Information Act mandates public entities to provide accurate information to interested parties. 


Therefore, you can obtain information about a vehicle's history from the state's Department of Vehicles. 


The Texas DMV maintains an online database of every vehicle in this state. Interested parties can search the online platform using the steps below:

1. Navigate to the official website of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
2. Click on "get a copy of your vehicle title."
3. Select any of the methods provided
4. Fill out the Form VTR-34

You can process your request either by mail or in person. Mail requests can be submitted at the following address: 

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles,
1601 Southwest Parkway, Suite A,
Wichita Falls, TX 76302

You can also book an appointment or contact the department at the following address:

Texas Motor Vehicle Department,
4000 Jackson Avenue,
Austin, TX 78731,
Phone: (512) 465-3000,
Fax: (512) 465-4129

The agency also offers various services aside from vehicle title information. You can select any of the application forms provided on the drop-down section of their website.  

a sign that reads driver licenses

Visiting Third-Party Website 

You can also obtain Texas license plate information from the very comfort of your apartment using third-party platforms. 


These sites are usually free or come at a relatively cheap charge, which can be paid using a credit or debit card. Some popular third-party sites include:

* Vehicle.Report 
* FaxVIN 


Texans looking to buy pre-owned vehicles can learn more about the vehicle using any of the above techniques. 


There are many reasons why you should conduct a license plate lookup. It is a crucial due diligence procedure that must be performed before purchasing a second-hand vehicle.

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