Delaware License Plate Lookup

License Plate Lookup in Delaware

A Delaware license plate lookup involves running a license plate number against various online directories to obtain all details related to the license plate. It may also require searching for such information from physical offices handling license plates related matters. In Delaware, people look up license plates for several reasons. The most common reason people do license plate lookup is to uncover Delaware traffic records and related information. Typically, a license plate lookup reveals a vehicle history which helps anyone intending to buy a used automobile make an informed decision. Also, people do a license plate lookup to identify a vehicle owner.

Some of the information a license plate lookup will disclose are:

  1. Information on the vehicle's current owner (some are kept confidential)
  2. Vehicle's technical specifications
  3. A vehicle's fuel efficiency
  4. If there is any registration issue
  5. The current market value of the vehicle
  6. Title branding (if any)
  7. Mileage
  8. Available warranty on the vehicle
  9. If anyone had reported the vehicle as stolen
  10. If the car has passed inspection
  11. If the car has been involved in an accident
  12. Vehicle's maintenance history

There are no special requirements for looking up license plates in Delaware. To find information on vehicles or persons registered to a license plate in Delaware, people can look up license plates from the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). They can also search private online databases run by third parties, which is the easiest option to look up license plates. Additionally, people can do Delaware license plate lookups by hiring private investigators. Privately-run online databases offer free and paid lookup options for investigating license plates. Unlike free license plate lookup services, paid services require subscriptions and mostly return accurate and current information about a vehicle and its owner. On the other hand, free license plate lookup services hardly provide completely accurate data.

What is a Delaware License Plate?

A license plate is a form of identification attached to noticeable parts of a vehicle. It usually comes as a combination of different characters and differentiates one vehicle from another. Simply put, Delaware license plates give every automobile in the state a unique identity. It also serves certain security functions. A license plate is a legal item that only the owner of a registration linked to a vehicle can display in public. In Delaware, it is the property of the state and must have a sticker displaying the registration expiration date in the lower right corner.

Title 21, Chapter 21 of the Delaware Code, requires all motor vehicles to display their license plates at all times. It further mandates all vehicle owners to attach license plates to the rear of their motor vehicles unless such vehicles are truck tractors attached to semi-trailers or trailers. A truck tractor owner must display their license plate on the front of the vehicle in a conspicuous manner. Section 2126 of Title 21, Chapter 21 of the Delaware Code outlines the punishment of using a vehicle without a license plate. The Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for motor vehicle registration and issuing license plates to vehicle owners. The prefixes on Delaware license plates indicate the type of motor vehicle and the organization they represent. For instance, P/C denotes passenger cars, C/L or C, commercial vehicles, MC, motorcycles, and T indicates that a vehicle is a trailer. Besides prefixes, Delaware license plates also display DELAWARE and THE FIRST STATE.

The DMV offers different categories of license plates/tags in Delaware. These include:

  1. Special License Plates - The Delaware DMV restricts issuance of these tags to passenger vehicles or trucks weighing three-quarter-ton or less the gross vehicle weight rating of vehicles' manufacturers. These license plates are used to raise money for special groups within the state. They include Animal Welfare license plates, Environmental license plates, Stop Child Abuse license plates, and Keep Delaware Beautiful license plates. Others are Delaware Equine Council license plates and Agricultural Farmland Preservation license plates.
  2. Organizational License Plates - These license plates are issued to members or former members of certain organizations or groups in Delaware. License plate types under this category are Military license plates and College license plates. There are specific eligibility criteria that organizations or their members must meet to obtain them. Members of non-profit organizations can also apply for organizational license plates in Delaware. However, state law requires at least 200 applications from such organizations for the DMV to approve the issuance of the license plates. The only exemptions to this law are high school and university alumni associations, which can obtain these license plates with only 25 applications.
  3. Vanity License Plates - Also known as personalized license plates, vanity license plates may bear a single letter, combination of letters, or blend of numbers and letters. None can have only numbers as an inscription. A vanity license plate with a mixture of letters or a combination of letters and numerals cannot exceed seven in length. The maximum a motorcycle can have is five characters, irrespective of whatever combination the owner chooses. The DMV only issues vanity license plates to vehicles registered in Delaware.

How Do I Get a License Plate in Delaware?

To get a license plate in Delaware from the state's Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), a person must have insurance, make the vehicle available for inspection, and get the vehicle title.

Step 1 - Getting Liability Insurance

Anyone intending to obtain a license plate in Delaware must provide the DMV with proof of vehicle insurance. The DMV accepts the following documents as insurance proof:

  • A valid insurance policy.
  • Original copy of a valid insurance identification card or an electronic insurance card. Applicants can access electronic insurance cards via the insurance company's mobile app from electronic devices such as tablets, phones, or laptops. The DMV also accepts faxed copies sent to the Division directly by the insurance company.
  • A written binder from an insurance company on their letterhead (only valid for within 30 days of issuance).

Step 2 - Vehicle Inspection

A person must present their motor vehicle at any DMV's inspection lanes in the state for proper inspection to obtain a license plate. The DMV will conduct a full vehicle check or simply a VIN verification depending on the vehicle's model year or registered weight. To avoid rejection and going back for re-inspection, the DMV advises license plates applicants to check their motor vehicles parts thoroughly and ensure none is defective before presenting them for inspection.

Step 3 - Obtaining Vehicle Title

To obtain a vehicle title in Delaware, a person must provide the following:

  • Evidence of liability insurance.
  • Vehicle inspection report (MV-210) and Application for Certificate of Title (MV-212).
  • If there is a lien on the applicant's vehicle, they must send a form (MV-35) provided by the DMV to the lien-holder.

The DMV charges $40 annually for passenger vehicle registration and license plate issuance in Delaware. For commercial vehicles, the cost is $40 for the first 5,000 pounds with $18 for every 1,000 pounds above 5,000 pounds. Owners of recreational vehicles and recreational trailers pay $40 annually for the first 5,000 pounds with $6.40 increments for every 1,000 pounds above 5,000 pounds as license plate fees. Also, trailer owners pay $15 for 1,000 pounds, $20 for 1,001 pounds to 2,000 pounds, and $40 for 2,001 pounds to 5,000 pounds, annually. For every 1,000 pounds above 5,000 pounds, they pay $18. The DMV accepts cash, checks, and money orders as forms of payment. They also accept Visa cards, MasterCard, Discover cards, and American Express cards.

License plate applicants in Delaware can submit all required documents and proof of appropriate payments to one of the following DMV offices:

Delaware City Office
2101 Mid County Drive
New Castle, DE 19720
Phone: (302) 326-5000

Georgetown Office
23737 DuPont Boulevard
Georgetown, DE 19947
Phone: (302) 853-1000

Greater Wilmington Office
2230 Hessler Boulevard
New Castle, DE 19720
Phone: (302) 434-3200

Dover Office
303 Transportation Circle
P.O. Box 698
Dover, DE 19903
Phone: (302) 744-2500

These DMV offices receive license plate requests between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and between 12:00 noon and 8:00 p.m., Wednesdays.

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.

Passenger License Plates vs Commercial License Plates

Commercial license plates are for vehicles transporting goods or people for business purposes, while vehicles meant for private use carry passenger license plates. Commercial license plates help differentiate motor vehicles used for commercial purposes from those intended for personal use. Delaware has no special requirements for obtaining passenger and commercial license plates. All requirements are the same as other license plate categories in the state.

How Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in Delaware?

Generally, it is illegal to do a license plate lookup on another person. The Delaware DMV will not disclose a person's personal information in their records to another individual except authorized by statute or the owner approves it. Only law enforcement can look up a person's license plate to find the owner's information.

Away from law enforcement and the DMV, anyone can check the owner of a vehicle in Delaware by looking up the vehicle's license plate using some online tools offering free license plate lookup in Delaware. Any information obtained from such checks can be used to find the identity of the person whose vehicle is registered to that license plate through other means. For instance, if a person retrieves the phone number of the vehicle owner, they can find the owner of the license plate via phone number lookup.

Delaware License Plate Renewal

The DMV is responsible for license plate renewals in Delaware. Typically, the Division notifies license plate owners of the imminent expiration of their registration via email or text messages 90, 60, and 30 days before the expiration date. The DMV encourages vehicle owners to register for Vehicle Registration Email Expiration Notification to enable them to receive such notices. License plates in Delaware are due for renewals annually.

Before renewing a license plate in Delaware, the vehicle owner must present evidence that the vehicle has passed the state's vehicle safety inspection and emission test. The vehicle owner must have their motor vehicle inspected anytime within 90 days before their registration expiration date. However, in Delaware, trailers weighing 4,000 pounds or less do not need re-inspection before renewing their license plates. A vehicle whose license plate needs renewal must also be adequately covered by liability insurance.

A valid driver's license, vehicle odometer reading, Delaware insurance card, current registration card, and payment of required fees are all needed for Delaware license plate renewal. License plate renewal costs the same as obtaining a new license plate. However, the DMV charges a $20 late fee for license plate renewals done after vehicle registration expiration. Applicants can submit the required documents and information at any of the Delaware DMV offices for license plate renewals.

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Anyone can look up a license plate using its VIN. The DMV links a vehicle's VIN with its license plate during registration in Delaware.

VIN Number Lookup

VIN stands for a vehicle identification number, a unique identifying code assigned by vehicle manufacturers to every motor vehicle. It consists of 17 characters, a combination of numbers and letters (upper case). Generally, VIN lookup discloses information about a motor vehicle using VIN as a search parameter. A person can conduct a VIN lookup using the available tools online. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also provides a free VIN search tool to help identify vehicles subject to recall.

Most vehicles have their VINs on the driver's side of the dashboard, while some have them at their doorpost. Sometimes, they can be found on the top or front of an engine block. A VIN lookup reveals the following information on a vehicle:

  • Odometer readings
  • If the vehicle is stolen or rescued
  • Multiple owner histories
  • Salvage history
  • Fire or water damage
  • Undisclosed issues with used cars