To look up Rhode Island license plates for free, you only need to enter the plate number in a public records search portal. However, you will only see things like the vehicle make, model, and year. You won't see any personal details of the vehicle owner. If you require additional information, you can purchase a complete report, but you must follow all state and federal privacy laws. Rhode Island has an online portal for subscribers only who require multiple driver reports. The service costs $75 per year, but with a subscription, you can access multiple types of motor vehicle records and reports. They offer monthly billing for the number of records accessed. When applying to become a subscriber, you need your name, address, phone number, tax ID, and business information.
When registering a vehicle in Rhode Island, you will need a few pieces of documentation such as proof of insurance, tax form, bill of sale, RI driver's license, a Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO) or Title (if model year of the vehicle is 2001 or newer), and a VIN check. You must pay the sales tax at the time of registration.
Rhode Island has a special application form you must also fill out. Anyone who is under the age of 18 and registering a vehicle must have an additional GU-1338 proof of insurance form signed when they come in.
You can renew your Rhode Island vehicle registration through the mail, online, or at a local AAA office if you are an AAA member. If you owe any taxes on your vehicle, you will not be able to register until you pay them. Leased vehicles can now be renewed online also.
The state of Rhode Island has standard license plates that display a light blue wave on them. You can pick up your plates at any Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) location or any AAA branch (if you are a member). Rhode Island also offers residents an alternate standard plate that is red, white, and blue with a sailboat on it. Additionally, they have specialty plates for things like:
Rhode Island also offers residents Preferred Plates which are: "Passenger plates with 1 letter with 1-3 digits; 2 letters with 1-2 digits; and 1-4 digits (1-9999); Commercial, Combination, Motorcycle plates with 1-4 digits (1-9999) and Antique plates (1-2000); Suburban and Veteran plates with 1-3 digits (1-999), and National Guard and Public plates with 1-2 digits (1-99).
Rhode Island cares about the privacy of its residents. Therefore, access to motor vehicle records is covered by the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and Rhode Island's Chapter 27-49 - Motor Vehicle Theft and Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud Reporting – Immunity Act, Section 27-49-3.1 - Disclosure of personal information obtained in connection with motor vehicle records.
In the state law, Rhode Island defines personal information as: "an individual's photograph, social security number, driver identification number, name, address (but not the 5 digit zip code), telephone number, and medical or disability information, but does not include information on vehicular accidents, driving violations, and driver's status".
Rhode Island allows access to motor vehicle records through their subscription service for valid businesses and other types of individuals. Each record costs money, and there is an annual subscription fee as well.
It is entirely legal to look up a license plate in Rhode Island if you are simply looking for basic vehicle information like the year, make, and model. If, however, you are searching for personal information about the vehicle's owner, you cannot just look it up online without a valid reason. Violation of privacy laws may lead to serious fines and jail time, along with other penalties like making reparations to the person whose information you accessed.
When signing up to become a state-authorized user on the subscriber network, you will need to provide a bit of information. They will need your name, address, phone number, business name and address, state of incorporation, federal tax ID, and the type of business or individual. You must fall into one of several allowable categories to gain access to motor vehicle records.
Using the current Rhode Island subscriber system, it is not possible to lookup license plate records using a VIN. However, you have other options available. You could try a third-party vendor or the NHTSA database lookup tool where you can find crash reports, recalls, and more data. There is also the national title registry, which may give you even further details about the vehicle.
The state of Rhode Island's privacy laws prevents you from looking up the owner of a license plate. Personal details about motor vehicle owners are protected by strict DPPA laws both at the state and federal level. The consequences of violating these laws are substantial. If you need to locate the owner of a vehicle in Rhode Island, unless you qualify under DPPA laws, you might want to contact the local police for help.
In compliance with strict DPPA laws, Rhode Island only allows certain types of businesses and individuals access to motor vehicle records that contain personal details. On their sign-up form for the subscription service, you must select from the following types when applying:
All it takes is an online public record portal to look up a Rhode Island license plate for free. However, you will only see things like the vehicle make, model, and year. You won't see any personal details of the vehicle owner.