I'm trying to write an app that gives basic anonymous car data (make/model/year) from a picture.

I assumed the best way to do that would be to take a license plate number, look up the VIN from the plate, and gather other data through a VIN lookup. However, there doesn't seem to be a database for the US out there that gives you just the VIN from the license plate, and all other license plate lookup services are either scams or for law enforcement / security services due to all of the private information related to car registration numbers.

Is there a way (preferably an API) to lookup just the VIN from an American car plate? I'm not interested in any of the owner data so privacy shouldn't be an issue. I'm just trying to avoid a user from entering in a 17 digit number that they won't know offhand.

  • Edge case: I have an American car, with VIN, currently running on European plates in Europe. Now imagine the converse: someone imports a car with no VIN and puts American plates on it. Be sure to handle that Use Case.
    – Mawg
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 9:49
  • It might be tough. ehow.com/how_6069562_vin-using-license-plate-number.html states "The DPPA protects the privacy of people by prohibiting the release and use of drivers' personal information from state motor vehicle records (see Reference 1). These restrictions include who can run license plate numbers to retrieve information (such as VINs). Those who have legal authority to run license plate numbers include licensed private investigators, law enforcement, employers, those who have obtained a release for such information from the vehicle owner and the owners themselves" ...
    – Mawg
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 9:53
  • 1
    Five years later, you might consider closing this and asking a new question on Open Data
    – Mawg
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 10:55

5 Answers 5


There is one more option on RapidAPI that you can give it a try to check VINs for US license plates: https://rapidapi.com/vincheckinfo/api/us-license-plate-to-vin/details

They charge $0.06, $0.08 or $0.10 per request based on the plan you subscribe to.


You haven't specified which country you are interested in.

In the UK, you can apply for access to the information from the DVLA under the Open Gov scheme.


I was looking into this and found https://platetovin.com, it's not free but it worked well for me and is only $0.05 per lookup, seems to be the cheapest I can find.

  • Welcome Tomas! Do you have any affiliation with your recommendation? If so, please edit your answer to indicate your affiliation. If not, all is good. Again, welcome! Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 21:49
  • I don't have any affiliation no, I just had a look at some of these and found none were at the same low price as the company I found Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 15:14

There are plenty of APIs available to do this lookup, but they are unfortunately not free. They can charge $0.20 cents per request Here is an Example http://vehicleregistrationapi.com/


You can also try to use the new application for mobile mechanics BeeFixi, but you can get a VIN code from the license plate as well and it's free.

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