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Although you can look up Maryland license plates easily for free, you won't see much of useful information. Free vehicle records are limited because of DPPA rules. However, you can also use public records databases to search for records but must be very careful about how you use the information. Using the Maryland online lookup tool, you can get more details like:
When using the system, you must fall into one of the exception categories for access and provide your name, address, and phone number plus the owner's VIN, make, model, and year of the vehicle. Maryland only allows a limited few to access those records.
When renewing your Maryland vehicle registration, you need to have the title and license plate number. You need the same information when ordering new or replacement license plates. New plates cost $20. You may also order personalized plates for $50, but you have to wait for approval of the message and the custom plates to arrive.
Maryland vehicles can be registered for a period of two years. Standard plates cost $135. Other fees may also apply.
When moving to Maryland, you have 60 days to register your vehicle. You must apply for a title and registration at one of Maryland's MVA's full service branch offices. You will need the title, odometer statement, inspection certificate, and lienholder information when you register. Registering a new vehicle must be done in person but then after that you can renew online.
Maryland has one "general" style license plate and then other specialty plates. However, vehicles with plates for individuals with disabilities or personalized plates can wear the Chesapeake Bay or Agricultural Plates. The complete list of license plate options in the state of Maryland are:
Each plate type is a different price, and any of them that are personalized will cost even more. Plates that sponsor groups, universities, organizations, or foundations help to fund them through the proceeds of the extra fees.
Maryland follows the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act closely. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration(MVA) website states "As of July 1, 2000, every driving and motor vehicle record in the State of Maryland is closed unless you request, in writing, that your records be open to the public". The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration considers the following information public information in records:
Additionally, the MVA website explains that the "Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) (18 USCA 2721) as amended by Section 350 of Public Law 106 Appropriations Act prohibits the dissemination or disclosure of a photograph, social security numbers, medical or disability information from motor vehicle records without the express consent of the person to whom the information pertains".
Yes, it is legal to look up a license plate in Maryland, and because of their public records laws, you may see even more information than you expected. However, vehicle owner details and other identifying information may be hidden unless you qualify for a release of that data. You can use online portals to search license plates as long as you follow federal DPPA laws.
When requesting records from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, you need to provide some information. They have a special form you can use to request, and you will need the Tag Number (license plate), VIN, and if you have it, the year, make, and model of the car. You will also need to provide your own name, address, phone number, and license number. You also have to prove you are eligible for access.
Using the same form as listed above, you can request license plate records using the VIN number. Again, you must follow all DPPA rules when requesting records that contain personal details. However, you can use online resources or the national title registry to get information on the crash history and recalls.
It is not legal to look up the owner of a license plate in Maryland to contact them for any reason other than the "exceptions" listed in the DPPA laws. Instead, you can contact the police and have them locate the person you need and give them your contact information.
When requesting records, you need to fill out form DR-057 and complete as much of it as possible. You must select the records required but also choose one of the acceptable purposes for the data. As listed on the form they include:
You must pay the fees (based on what type of report you want) at the time of ordering.
You can easily look up a Maryland license plate for free online using various public records or database portals. However, you will only be able to see the vehicle's year, make, model, and color.