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West Virginia License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in West Virginia

West Virginia License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in West Virginia
November 27, 2022

With over 500,000 registered vehicles plying its highways, West Virginia is home to a large automobile market. 


With such markets comes different vehicle services, such as license plate lookup service. 

The service is an integral aspect of the processes involved in purchasing vehicles, especially pre-owned vehicles. 


A license plate lookup provides you with every detail you may be searching for about your potential ride. 

This protects you against any fraudulent activity or claims the dealer might make. 


Continue reading to find out all you need to know about West Virginia license plates and how to perform license plate lookups in West Virginia.

Overview of West Virginia License Plates

West Virginia license plates are identification tags provided to every duly registered automobile in the state. 


West Virginia is among the "Rugged Nineteen" that only require one license plate attached to the rear side of the vehicle. 

a man handing over car keys to another man


This is provided under Section 174-3-5 of the West Virginia Code. The only exemptions to the rule are:

* Road tractors built to pull trailers and semi-trailers
* Truck tractors that are built to pull trailers and semi-trailers

Furthermore, it is unlawful to drive a vehicle in West Virginia without having license plates and a valid registration. 


Chapter 17 of the state's Code makes it a criminal offense to drive without license plates, and this covers recreational vehicles, motor vehicles, pole trailers, trailers, and semi-trailers. 

A license plate is valid proof that a vehicle is duly registered and the motorist has a legitimate right to operate the vehicle on the state's roads. 


License plates are issued by the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

Standard West Virginia license plates contain serial numbers alongside the state's name. 


The state's license plates have blue, white, and yellow striped backgrounds with navy-blue letterings. 


They are also inscribed with "West Virginia" and "Wild, Wonderful". 

The Division of Motor Vehicles issues various types of license plates, including:

* Personalized license plates: When issued with standard license plates, interested parties can apply to have their plates personalized. A personalized license plate has the following attributes:

    - Made up of about seven alphanumeric characters
    - No obscene or derogatory language
    - Available and original

Specialty license plates: West Virginians are free to select from a variety of decorative and colorful license plates. These types of license plates support and celebrate certain occupations, organizations and groups. Common examples include:

    - Military license plates: These are issued to past members of the United States Military, and they include honorary medal plates, veteran of war plates, and United States Plates.
    - Collegiate license plates: This class of plates celebrates scholarships, universities, fraternities, and sororities. Examples include Penn State license plates, Virginia tech plates, and West Virginia plates.
    - Special license plates: These plates support occupations, non-profits, charities, and occupations. Typical examples include League of Postmasters license plates, NASCAR license plates, Support Our Troops license plates, etc.
    - Other examples of West Virginia specialty license plates are vintage and classic car plates

* Disability license plates: West Virginians living with temporary or permanent disabilities can apply to the state's Division of Motor Vehicles for disability plates. Parents or guardians of such persons can also request such plates. 

a blank license plate on a car

West Virginia allows for the transfer of license plates. This means that vehicle owners can transfer license plates from their old vehicles to new ones. You must provide the following information to be able to transfer your license plates:

* Completed transfer request form
* Proof of payment of the requisite transfer

However, the state does not allow owners to transfer license plates to other persons. 


You can turn over the license plate to the local office of the Division of Motor Vehicles if you no longer need your license plate. You must also turn over license plates if you are:

    - Applying for upgrades 
    - Moving to another state
    - Applying for replacements
    - Canceling the vehicle's insurance

You can apply to your local county treasurer for a replacement if your license is lost or stolen. West Virginia introduces new license plate designs every eight years.

How to Conduct a License Plate Lookup in West Virginia: 

Conducting a license plate lookup is an easy exercise that can be performed in the comfort of your home. 


You only need the license plate number and a fast internet connection. You can start by browsing through third-party platforms offering vehicle lookup services. 


Some of these platforms are free, while others are paid. Popular third-party platforms include:

    - VINpit 

a finger touching a car's license plate

They are viable alternatives to government-based sites and offer faster services. 


However, paid platforms usually provide more detailed data than free ones. 


The only downside to using such platforms is the increased likelihood of receiving incorrect information as they have limited data. 

Furthermore, the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles is another platform offering vehicle record services. 


You will be required to complete a vehicle records request form and provide reasons for your application. 


The agency reserves the right to withhold specific information, especially those relating to the driver's personal information, like their social security number and medical information. 

You can contact the DMV for further inquiries at:

1900 Kanawha Blvd, East,
Building 5, Room A-722,
Charleston WV, 25305-0330,
Phone: 1-800-642-9096


Every vehicle in West Virginia must be registered and titled before it can be driven on West Virginia expressways. 


Vehicles must always carry registration cards, insurance certificates, and license plates. 

License plates contain valuable information about a vehicle, including ownership history, accident records, title details, salvage information, etc. 


You can recover these details and more using a license plate lookup.

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