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Illinois Public Records
License Plate Lookup

License Plate Lookup in Illinois

An Illinois license plate lookup is the process of searching for the details of a vehicle by entering the license plate number into a license plate search tool. A license plate lookup provides specific information about a vehicle, such as the current owner, date of last renewal, state of the vehicle, and any associated lien. It is beneficial when purchasing a pre-owned car as it provides some history of the vehicle and its features. Some of the details that one can find in a license plate lookup include:

  • Owner information within legal limits
  • Vehicle title information
  • Vehicle registration
  • Driver's criminal history
  • Odometer readings
  • Vehicle description
  • Vehicle history

In Illinois, license plate registration is under the office of the Secretary of State and administered by the Vehicle Services Department. Any interested person can look up a license plate in Illinois. The Illinois Vehicle Code governs the registering and issuing of license plates in the state. One can look up license plates registered in the state by completing the Secretary of State Information Request form and submitting it to:

Secretary of State
Motor Vehicle Record Inquiry Section
501 South Second Street, Room 408
Springfield, IL 62756
(217) 785-3000

Personal identification information about the vehicle owner is not released. The four information categories provided and their costs are as follows:

  1. Title search - $5
  2. Registration search - $5
  3. Title and Registration search - $10
  4. Certification for Court - $10

There are several other free license plate lookup websites in the state where you can get basic information about a vehicle. While the free license plate lookup tools provide basic information about the vehicle, the paid lookup tool gives more detailed information, such as Illinois traffic records, the criminal history of the driver, and the accident history of the car.

What is an Illinois License Plate?

The Illinois license plate is an aluminum plate tag showing the registration numbers and characters assigned to the vehicle. The Illinois Vehicle Code establishes that the license plate belongs to the vehicle owner and cannot be transferred to other persons. If a vehicle owner sells a vehicle, the license plate remains with the original owner and can be transferred to another vehicle acquired by the owner. Two license plates affixed to the front and back of the vehicle are required for all automobiles in Illinois, except for motorcycles, trailers, semi-trailers, mopeds, autocycles, or truck-tractors, which are required to have one license plate. License plates are compulsory for all vehicles in the state. License plate covers are not allowed.

The Illinois license plate officially carries the picture of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the US, and the inscription 'Land of Lincoln' on it except otherwise expressly permitted by the Secretary of State. The information provided on the standard passenger license plate are the following:

  • Issuing state - Illinois
  • Month and year of issuance
  • Inscription "State of Lincoln"
  • Combination of alphabets and numbers, e.g., AC 32441
  • The image of Abraham Lincoln in the background

The different categories of license plates in Illinois include:

  • Standard plates
  • Specialty plates
    • Military
    • Persons with Disabilities
    • Government
    • Electric Vehicles
    • Trucks
    • Temporary
    • Recreational
    • Environmental
    • Sports team
    • Organization
    • Ambulance
    • Public transportation
    • Motorcycle
    • Livery
  • Vanity and personalized plates

A temporary license plate is given to newly acquired vehicles while the processing for the license plate is ongoing. The temporary license plate is valid for 30 days and can only be renewed by the Secretary of State.

How Do I Get a License Plate in Illinois?

A license plate is obtained after registering a vehicle with the Secretary of State. All newly purchased vehicles must be registered within 30 days of purchase. An applicant can make vehicle registration applications in person, via mail, or online. The Secretary of State provides the list of SOS facilities for in-person applications.

The documents required to register a vehicle in Illinois are as follows:

  • Completed Application for Vehicle Transaction (Form VSD 190). The form can be obtained from SOS facilities or filled online. The filled-out online form is only valid for seven days.
  • Name and address of the owner.
  • Proof of vehicle ownership.
  • Proof of residency.
  • Completed Odometer Disclosure Statement for Title Transfers form signed by both the new and previous owner.
  • Description of the vehicle:
    • Year of vehicle manufacture
    • Make of vehicle
    • Model of vehicle
    • Vehicle Identification Number
    • Body type
    • Color of vehicle
    • Date of purchase
    • Vehicle status (new or used)
  • Name and address of lienholders if applicable.
  • Signature of owner.
  • Completed tax form. Tax Form RUT-25 for vehicles purchased from a dealer or RUT-50 for vehicles purchased from an individual. (Both forms are not available online).
  • Liability insurance covering property damage and accident injuries to others.
  • Proof of payment of applicable fees:
    • Title - $150
    • Registration/License plates - $151
    • Sales tax - based on value of vehicle
    • Vanity fee - $94 (optional)
    • Personalized fee - $7 (optional)
    • License plate transfer fee - $25 (optional)

The applicant must submit all required documents to the nearest SOS facility; some facilities require prior appointments. After verifying all relevant documents, the license plate and temporary vehicle title will be issued.

Passenger License Plates vs. Commercial License Plates

Passenger license plates are the regular license plates issued to residents for personal use. In contrast, commercial license plates are issued to vehicles for commercial purposes, such as buses, taxis, liveries, and commercial trailers. Commercial license plates have one or two alphabets at the plate's extreme right, indicating the type of commercial vehicle being referenced. The alphabets used include:

  • CV - Buses, taxis, funeral, charity
  • LY - Delivery (for-hire)
  • D - Truck, trailer, semi-trailer, tow truck

Basic requirements for obtaining a commercial license plate are:

  • Appropriate automobile insurance for the vehicle.
  • Visit the nearest SOS facility to register the vehicle. Commercial registration cannot be done online.

All other requirements for registering a passenger license plate remain relevant.

How Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in Illinois

In Illinois, anyone can do a license plate lookup to find the owner of a license plate and the current vehicle linked to the plate. The Illinois Vehicle Service department provides the license plate lookup service. Several third-party websites provide the license plate lookup service free of charge and some at a fee. The information obtained from the lookup can be used to find the vehicle owner through a phone number lookup or by searching vehicle service records in Illinois.

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.

Illinois License Plate Renewal

License plate registration and renewal are done by the Illinois Vehicle Services Department in the Office of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State may mail or email registration renewal notices before the vehicle's registration expiration date. However, it is the responsibility of the vehicle owner to track the expiration. The vehicle owner can renew license plates by mail, online, touch-tone phone, or by visiting a Secretary of State facility. License plate renewal can be initiated a month before the current registration expiration. The Vehicle Services department will not renew the license of vehicles with the following conditions:

  1. The renewal sticker is to be mailed to an out-of-state address.
  2. Incorrect vehicle information.
  3. Non-current vehicle information.
  4. Request to switch license plate types.
  5. Request to change the spacing on the license plate.

The registration ID and PIN on the current registration card are required for a license plate renewal. An applicant that does not have a Registration ID or PIN can call the Public Inquiry Division at (800) 252-8980 (toll-free in Illinois) or (217) 785-3000 (outside Illinois) to get the Registration ID or PIN. The applicant will also be required to provide the insurance company name, policy number, and expiration date for the vehicle with the license plate to be renewed. To renew a license plate online, the applicant should:

  1. Visit the License Plate Renewal page.
  2. Type in the Registration ID and PIN.
  3. Verify the information and follow the on-screen instructions.
  4. Pay the required renewal fee via electronic check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express cards only.
    1. Standard plate renewal sticker costs $151.
    2. Personalized renewal sticker plate costs $158.
    3. Vanity plate renewal sticker costs $164.
  5. Print the receipt and keep it in the vehicle until the new sticker arrives.

The renewed license plate sticker will be delivered via mail within five to ten days. Replating takes two to four weeks to be processed and delivered. An applicant can choose to retain the current license plate number (retention plates) or get new plate numbers.

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes, you can look up a vehicle's license plate with its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The VIN and the license plate number are linked in the Illinois vehicle registration database. The Title and Registration Status Inquiry webpage provide the platform to check the status of a vehicle by entering the VIN.

Illinois VIN Number Lookup

An Illinois VIN lookup checks the Vehicle Identification Number in a VIN search tool. All registered vehicles in Illinois (post-1981) have a 17-character (digits and capitalized letters) identifying code that uniquely identifies the vehicle and its manufacturers. The VIN can be found on the dashboard of the driver's side of the vehicle, the doorpost of the driver's side door, the engine block, or the hood underside. The VIN can reveal specific information about the vehicle, such as country of production, airbag types, engine size, plant name, safety recalls trim level, insurance coverage, and claims.

Can Civilians Lookup License Plates in Illinois?

Yes. The Illinois legislature does not bar the state DMV from releasing information to civilians who request a license plate search. However, only eligible entities can retrieve personally identifiable information (PII) from a license plate lookup. These parties include a court, insurer, law enforcement agency, employer, vehicle-related business, financial institution, attorney, and any other party that can certify permissible use under the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). After a license plate search, the public can only obtain vehicle information (for example, vehicle specifications).

What Do Police See When They Run Your Plates in Illinois?

In Illinois, the police can access the available information on a registered owner after they run their license plate number, including:

  • The vehicle owner's name
  • Registered address
  • Telephone number
  • Current license status
  • Vehicle make, model, color, and year
  • Insurance details (company and policy number)
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Stolen vehicle reports
  • Outstanding warrants against the registered owner

Free License Plate Lookup in Illinois

Although the public can request a license plate lookup from the Illinois DMV, the DMV typically charges a fee to disclose license plate information. However, several third-party websites offer free lookup services to interested members of the public. These sites feature search engines that can be queried with a license plate number and state of issuance. The information that a user acquires on a third-party site is typically vehicle-related, not a registered owner's personal information.

How to Search for Ticket by License Plate in Illinois

A person searching for a traffic or parking ticket by license plate in Illinois can check for a ticket payment system on the administering agency's website. Most government agencies handling traffic/parking tickets in Illinois provide an online portal where ticketed individuals and other interested parties can search for, view, and pay violation tickets.

However, note that while the court system is responsible for resolving traffic tickets in Illinois, the courts do not provide a license plate search option to find unpaid traffic tickets. Usually, one can search for unpaid tickets on a court's payment portal or call the court clerk's office with a ticket/citation number, driver's license number, or the registered owner's last name (sometimes, a date of birth may be required).

The "Search by License Plate" option is often provided to persons searching for parking, red light camera, or speeding violation tickets owed to a municipality (city or town) in Illinois. In those instances, the researcher can access the administering agency's payment portal to find unpaid tickets by license plate number.



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