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Kentucky License Plate Lookup

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License Plate Lookup in Kentucky

A Kentucky license plate lookup is a process of getting vehicle information by using the vehicle's license plate number to perform a search on a search tool. Beyond the brand or model, a license plate lookup reveals some critical information about a motor vehicle. When a Kentucky resident wants to purchase a secondhand motor vehicle, completing a Kentucky license plate search may provide several helpful information about the vehicle. The lookup may disclose the used vehicle's market worth and aid the prospective buyer in negotiating the vehicle cost. More significantly, a Kentucky license plate lookup can potentially stop residents from purchasing stolen automobiles.

A license plate lookup provides Kentucky traffic records as well as the vehicle's make, model, year, and VIN. Additionally, it displays odometer readings, mileage, theft reports (if any), and inspection and accident histories. Additionally, a Kentucky license plate search might provide information on a vehicle's title and history of recalls and repairs.

Several online sites provide free license plate lookup services for anyone interested in performing license plates lookups in Kentucky. Most free license plate search services provide basic vehicle information; still, the information obtained through these sources cannot be wholly relied on. You are more likely to obtain accurate and updated information and a comprehensive vehicle report if you use a paid service to conduct a license plate lookup. Also, if you perform a license plate lookup at the Kentucky Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing, you can be sure to obtain authentic information.

What is a Kentucky License Plate?

Kentucky license plates are number plates tagged or affixed to vehicles registered in the state. Without a valid license plate, driving on Kentucky roads is illegal. Kentucky only requires license plates to be affixed to the rear of vehicles for most automobiles registered in the state. Kentucky issues license plates through the Motor Vehicle Licensing division of its Transportation Cabinet.

Kentucky's Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing issues more than 150 different types of motorcycle and passenger license plates. Categories under which license plates are issued include Regular, Special, University, Independent College, Military, Military Motorcycle, Miscellaneous, Disabled, and Special Motorcycle Plates. The state permits motorists with the standard-issue motorcycle plate, special plates, and military plates to personalize their number plates. The state regulates personalized plates pursuant to Section 186.164 and 186.174 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes and Kentucky Administrative Regulations (KAR) 601 KAR 9:012.

Personalized passenger license plates may have up to six alphas and numeric characters in addition to a space or dash. However, in other instances, the characters may impede the plate's design. It is advised that you check the plate's image to establish the optimal spacing. Personalized motorcycle license plates may have up to five alpha and numeric characters, as well as a space or dash. Only letters A–Z, digits 1–9, spaces, and dashes are allowed characters. A personalized plate character combination may only appear on one license plate at any particular instance.

The most common design of the Kentucky license plate has a flat, digitally printed dark blue serial in white and light blue gradient plate. A State of Kentucky image icon is screened on the left with a blue-screened "KENTUCKY" word centered above and a "BLUEGRASS STATE" word screened above in a smaller font. Also, the county name is screened on a blue sticker in a box centered at the bottom of the design. The license plate design also has the slogan "IN GOD WE TRUST" screened in blue and centered above the county sticker.

Passenger License Plates vs. Commercial License Plates

Kentucky passenger vehicles are privately registered vehicles such as vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Passenger vehicles are typically issued standard license plates. Hence, to obtain a passenger license plate, you only need to register your vehicle in the state. Commercial license plates are issued to commercial vehicles after registering as commercial vehicles. Per Section 281A.010 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, the state defines a commercial motor vehicle as a motor vehicle or combination motor vehicle used in commerce that is:

  • Built to convey property and has a gross vehicle weight rating which has been adopted into the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's administrative regulations pursuant to Chapter 13A of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.
  • Built to convey 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
  • Transporting hazardous materials and required to be placarded under Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 172.
  • Any other vehicle required by the Transportation Cabinet administrative regulation, under Chapter 13A of the Kentucky Revised Statutes. to be operated by a licensed commercial driver.

Commercial vehicle registration requirements vary depending on the weight of the vehicle. For more information on the various requirements for registering commercial vehicles, visit the commercial motor vehicle credentials page of the Transportation Cabinet website.

How Do I Get a License Plate in Kentucky?

To obtain a vehicle license plate in Kentucky. You must first complete your vehicle title and registration. License plates are issued when vehicle registrations are completed. To title an in-state vehicle, the following is required:

  • Photo ID.
  • Proof of Kentucky insurance. The issue date must be within 45 days of submitting the vehicle title application.
  • Completed TC96-182 form and signed-over Kentucky title. Note that signatures are required to be notarized.
  • An affidavit showing that the name on the title is the same as the one listed on your ID. This is only required if the name stated on your title is not the same as the name listed on your ID. A divorce decree or marriage license is accepted.

The same documents listed above are required to title an out-of-state vehicle in addition to an attestation of the inspection of the vehicle. Vehicles brought into Kentucky from other states must complete an inspection at a Sheriff's office.

To complete vehicle registration, registrants are advised to visit the Office of the County Clerk in the county of residence. The following will be required to complete registration:

  • Photo identification.
  • Proof of Kentucky insurance with an effective date within 45 days. This proof must be current and original. Copies are not accepted. The 45-day issue date requirement is not applicable to commercial, military, or self-insured policy types.
  • Payment for the applicable taxes and fees. It is recommended that registrants verify the appropriate fees and forms of payment with their county clerk's office.

All requests must be pre-approved by the Personalized Plate Review Committee of the Transportation Cabinet before applying to the county clerk to apply for personalized plates. The following forms and steps are required to initiate the personalized plate application process:

  • Visit the Plate List application page to determine the availability of the requested character combinations. Availability check is accomplished by clicking on the picture of the plate of interest and then on the "PERSONALIZE THIS PLATE" button.
  • After confirming availability, make your online request by clicking on the "REQUEST THIS PLATE" option.
  • Upon receiving a pre-approval application, take the e-mail notification and any required documents to your county clerk. Pre-approved notices are sent to the email addresses referenced on the online request form.
  • Pay a $25 fee to the clerk for a personalized plate. This fee is in addition to the registration fee applied to each plate.

Persons who have their personalized plate application rejected will receive rejection notifications in the mail and will be advised on the next steps via the mail. Such persons may reapply with a new request or appeal their current requests. To appeal a rejection determination, complete the online appeal form. Plate requests will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis. Note that a character combination may become unavailable if another request for the identical character combination was received before your submission.

For more inquiries on personalized plates in Kentucky, contact the Transportation Cabinet by emailing

How Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in Kentucky?

Anyone interested in finding the owner of a Kentucky license plate may do so using any tool that offers to search public databases for license plate and vehicle information. Such tools return information on the individuals or vehicles associated with state-registered license plates. Generally, in accordance with the Kentucky Driver's Privacy Protection law, the DMV will not share personal information received in connection with a motor vehicle with anybody other than the vehicle owner.

However, by cross-referencing the basic information obtained from a license plate search with public information in databases and other sources, you may quickly determine the vehicle owner, address, and mobile phone number. Additionally, you may even be able to access the owner's criminal history, email address, and social media accounts, as well as the vehicle's VIN and information connected with that license plate.

Third-party aggregate sites are a reliable alternative for obtaining license plate information. These sites are maintained by independent establishments which collate the information from government-run repositories. Obtaining records from these sites often proves substantially easier than government alternatives. However, requestors may be required to provide any information required to facilitate the record search and pay any required fees to access the record of interest.

Kentucky License Plate Renewal

To renew your license plate in Kentucky, you have to renew your vehicle registration. To complete vehicle registration renewal, visit the Office of the County Clerk in your county of residence to complete the process. The following are required to complete the process:

  • Kentucky certificate of registration.
  • Current original evidence of Kentucky insurance with an effective date within 45 days.
  • Photo identification.
  • Money for applicable taxes and fees. You may check with your county clerk's office to verify accepted forms of payment.

Vehicle registration renewals may also be completed online for an eligible plate. You can view a list of eligible plates on the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Licensing website. The following must also apply for you to be eligible to complete renewals online:

  • The vehicles must have unexpired registrations.
  • The vehicle owners must not have overdue property taxes on any other vehicles owned.
  • The vehicle must be insured for a minimum of 45 days with the same insurance company for database verification.
  • Leased vehicles are ineligible to be renewed online.
  • Vehicles registered in separate counties to the current owner must be renewed separately.

To complete renewals online, you must have the vehicle's title number, the plate number of the vehicle, and a Debit or Credit Card. Payments may be completed using American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or VISA. The online renewal process may take 5-7 working days to complete. Note that there is a $2 fee per vehicle to cover mailing costs in addition to the non-refundable online service fee.

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes. Vehicle license plates are identifiable by their Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN). In Kentucky, the Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing issues license plate numbers to registered motor vehicles and obtains and maintains all registration paperwork, including the vehicle's VIN and other important information, in a database. Individuals interested in obtaining a vehicle registration plate in Kentucky may contact the state's DMV to access its public vehicle records.

VIN Number Lookup

A VIN lookup is a search that employs a tool to find out information about the vehicle associated with the number. To run a VIN search, you will need the vehicle's identification number. A VIN number, also known as the Vehicle Identification Number, is a string of seventeen characters that uniquely identify a vehicle. The number is unique to each vehicle and can help unveil a vehicle's history. VINs were standardized as 17-digits strings in 1981 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Per NHTSA requirements, portions of the string are assigned values manufacturers must comply with; other parts are left for use according to manufacturers' discretion. Before 1981, vehicle manufacturers defined their own VIN; hence, the length and format of the numbers vary.

Typically, a VIN is imprinted on a plate or printed on a sticker attached to a vehicle in several places, including on the driver's side door jamb and inside the engine bay. The VIN number may also be located on the rear-wheel well or underneath the spare tire.

A VIN number lookup can be essential when considering purchasing a used vehicle. By conducting a VIN lookup, you can obtain detailed information about the car, such as the place of manufacture, the kind of airbags installed, the engine size, the plant name, any safety recalls, trim level, insurance coverages, and claims. A VIN lookup can also provide information on a vehicle's accident history, ownership history, sale history, and market value, among other relevant information.

Can Civilians Lookup License Plates in Kentucky?

Civilians can look up license plates in Kentucky. Some of the information that may be found using a license plate search includes information about the vehicle (make, year of manufacture, etc.), inspection records, and accident reports.

Some searches may provide information about the previous owner(s). However, access to these records are restricted by the provisions of the Federal Driver Privacy Protection Act.

What Do Police See When They Run Your Plates in Kentucky?

When a law enforcement officer in Kentucky runs a plate, they are able to retrieve information about the vehicle and the vehicle record. This includes the vehicle's VIN, its make and model, expiration date for registration, as well as its insurance status. The law enforcement officer will also see who it is registered to in Kentucky.

Using the information on the license plates and the driver's license, police officers can also run checks on another database to see if there are any outstanding warrants as well as the driver's driving record. Most of the information found falls under the Driver Privacy Protection Act, which means it may not be disclosed or accessed except for critical reasons.

Free License Plate Lookup in Kentucky

The Kentucky state government, in cooperation with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, provides online access to motor records via the Online Vehicle Information System (OVIS). However, this look-up service will require a registered account as well as a subscription.

Some of the information that can be accessed using this service include the vehicle model, make and year, registration type, registration status, and the dealer assignment title. Access to records via this platform is governed by the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act, which means requesters must provide a valid reason before they can use the service.

How to Search for Ticket by License Plate in Kentucky

Kentuckians with misplaced tickets may be able to find them by license plate using the search platform maintained by the Kentucky Court of Justice. Users can conduct searches by providing a first name, birth date, and driver's license number. Searches can also be filtered to reveal results for tickets issued in specific county courts. Alternatively, motorists can search for tickets with a license by contacting the court that issued the ticket.