How to Find Out Who Owns a Car

by Meg Butler
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If you want to find out who owns a car, you'll have to do some legwork. With the correct pieces of information, you can find that information available from several sources. However, the information is not available to just anyone. To obtain information about a car's owner from a government agency, you must have a valid reason for your search. If your search is for personal reasons, you may have to hire someone to conduct your search for you.

Step 1

Go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you know the VIN number of the car, you can fill out a form to officially request information about the car's current owner. However, in accordance with the Drivers Privacy Protection Act, the DMV can only release the information if your inquiry concerns a theft or the transferal of records into your name.

Step 2

Go to the local police department with the car's license plate number. Again, you will only be able to find out who owns the car if your search involves a criminal matter, safety issue or you want to make sure that the person you're buying a car from really owns the car.

Step 3

Hire an online private investigator. Companies like or allow you to search for private investigators in your area. Or, go to the website of your state's association of licensed private investigators like the California Association of Licensed Investigators ( According to the Drivers Privacy Protection Act, licensed private investigators are allowed to search public records to find the owner of a car.

Step 4

Join a public record database like or that allows you to look up the owner of the car via its license plate number. The fees for searching these databases generally range from $25 to $50 for an annual membership.

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