PA License Plate Lookup

A license plate lookup is an electronic search that is done on a vehicle's license plate number to dig out certain information about the vehicle. This database search should usually fetch important information like the car’s manufacturer, car owner, car model, and other public records of the car.

A Pennsylvania vehicle's license plate is required for every Pennsylvania resident, regardless of whether it's old or new. As a new resident of Pennsylvania, you need to register your vehicle within 20 days of moving to the state, and getting accommodation. This article contains all there is to know about Pennsylvania License Plates and a Pennsylvania license plate lookup.

How Does A Pennsylvania License Plate Work?

Pennsylvania License plates are issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in the Vehicle and Drivers Section. Rear license plates are required on commercial vehicles and other classes of vehicles. On the other hand, both front and rear license plates are required for personal vehicles owned by the government and vehicles owned by photographers who work with the press.

As a resident of Pennsylvania, you need to title and register your car within 20 days of moving to Pennsylvania. Otherwise, you will be deemed an illegal driver. A vehicle cannot be registered without it being titled and without that you can not get your vehicle's license plate. Even after getting all of those certificates, you still need to get your vehicle inspected before it becomes roadworthy. It is also illegal to drive a car without PA license plates on the streets of Pennsylvania as a resident.

An out-of-state vehicle must be fully registered. The penalty for driving an unregistered vehicle in Pennsylvania is a fine of $75 or in some cases, the registration fee is doubled. If the vehicle has been registered in another Commonwealth state 60 days before conviction, you are poised to pay a fine of $25. If the vehicle is not a trailer, the fine is $50. However, if it was registered in another Commonwealth state, the fine is going to be double the registration fee depending on the size of the vehicle.

Types Of Pennsylvania License Plates

There are 4 types of vehicle license plates in Pennsylvania:

State or Standard License Plates

The state-issued license plates are usually colored blue, white, and yellow with the characters on them in blue. This license plate is given to you when you register your vehicle.

Specialty License Plates

There are different types of specialty license plates, depending on what entry you make. You could be issued one for a university, organization, profession, or any other entry you may make.

Below is a list of some of the types of specialty license plates available in Pennsylvania:

    College License Plates

    The money raised from getting this kind of license plate is given to local college fraternities, schools, and charities.

    Special Service License Plate

    The money raised from these license plates is given to local clubs and organizations for support. Clubs like Shriners Society, e.t.c.

    Special Fund License Plate

    The money raised from these plates is given to a society, for example, for honouring the military plates.

    Military License Plates

    These license plates are for honoring military personnel by either showing off their military positions, their awards, or the war they participated in.

    Antique License Plates

    These license plates are for cars older than 15 years or from the 1900s.

Getting these license plates attracts an additional fee plus the standard registration fees and there is also a license renewal plates fee. So, the fees depend on the type of specialty license plates.

Disability License Plates

If you have a proof of disability (obtainable from a doctor), you can file for a disability license plate. Pennsylvania offers license plates for veterans with disabilities and people with permanent disabilities. They also provide placards for people with permanent and temporary disabilities.

Personalized License Plates

Pennsylvania gives the option of customizing your plate with any unique number or character of your choice. Before you can be eligible for personalized license plates, the characters on the plate must:

  • Be 7 characters including numbers and letters
  • Not include profanities
  • Not already have been used. Check online to see if your customized numbers have already been used.

There are fees attached to getting a personalized license plate asides the fees attached to get a standard registration for your vehicle or license plate renewal.

When Do You Need To Run A Pennsylvania License Plate Lookup?

There are so many reasons why Pennsylvania residents run a PA license plate lookup. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • In the case of a hit-and-run motor accident, you can take a quick snapshot of the vehicle's tag before it drives off. This will help in investigative work.
  • If you are moving to Pennsylvania for the first time and you get a vehicle, there may be a license plate on it so with a quick license plate lookup, PA will reveal all there is to know about that vehicle.
  • Before getting car insurance (a requirement for titling or registering a vehicle). Running a Pennsylvania license plate lookup could help you know if the car has an existing insurance or not as it is typical of many PA owners to have one before selling their cars.
  • You need to run a license plate lookup if you suspect fraud. If you have suspicions about the car’s owner or its history, executing a Pennsylvania license plate lookup may be necessary.

What Info Can You Obtain Through A Pennsylvania License Plate Search?

  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number): This is a 17-digit-code that can be used to get information about a vehicle.
    • The following information can be sourced from a VIN on a Pennsylvania license plate search:

      • The car manufacturer
      • Car model
      • Previous insurance on the car
      • If the car has been used as collateral for a current debt
  • The Owner's Information
    • The following information can be sourced from a VIN on a Pennsylvania license plate search:

      • Name
      • Address
      • Phone number
      • Ordinarily, the above information is usually kept away from the public. Therefore, you may need a permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

  • The Vehicle's History Report
  • The Vehicle's Public Records
  • The Vehicle's Description (that is to see if the license on the vehicle is up to date)


How much does it cost to run a license plate lookup?

PA License plates search is free with websites like VinPit. Should you choose to do so with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you would have to fork out a certain fee.

How can I run a license plate lookup?

All you need for a license plate lookup is the license number. Once you enter the characters and letters on the license plate into the database, all public information about the vehicle pops up.

Who can request for and receive a copy of my Pennsylvania vehicle's record?

Employers, insurance agencies, law enforcement agencies or attorneys who are representing you can gain access to your vehicle's record.

How can I get a copy of my vehicle's record?

If the vehicle was registered in Pennsylvania, you can request for a copy of its public records at the DMV office. Another option is downloading and filling the "Request for Vehicle Information" form on the PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) website and mailing it to the PennDOT's office.

What form of payment is accepted for renewing my driver's license in PA?

PennDOT accepts checks and money orders. PennDOT will not accept cash as a means of payment for renewing your driver's license.


A Pennsylvania license plate lookup helps you to avoid scams or get tricked by car dealers into buying stolen vehicles. Some car dealers will sell a faulty car to you without batting an eyelid but with a license plate search, you get to see all the reports of that car and know if it's a good or a bad deal. Our website, VINPit, offers VIN search, VIN decoders, license plate lookup, and vehicle history reports. So you no longer have to stand in line at the DMV when you get all the information you need in just one click.