Finding Vehicle Owner by VIN
Is that possible to find vehicle owner by VIN?
Yes, it is possible to find vehicle owner by VIN, because the VIN number is tied to the vehicle's registered owner and the information is kept by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Knowing who owned a used vehicle is one of the ways to protect yourself prom numerous troubled associated with buying a car with a problem history. But it is not so easy. The federal statute called Drivers Privacy Protection Act restricts disclosure of private information regarding vehicle owners, not just to private persons but also those who have legitimate grounds for searching vehicle owner by VIN in order to to carry out its functions, be it a person or a company. The purpose is to prevent obtaining drivers' information for unlawful purposes. This means that if you want to find vehicle owner by VIN you'll have to provide a substantial reason for requesting that kind of information to the DMV. Some businesses, like wrecker or towing services, may actually need to find the owner based on the VIN. However, even they are requested to provide their business license and DOT number together with the request. Courts, police and other government agencies are generally allowed to search for the owner by VIN number without restrictions.
Can I find car owner by VIN myself?
Department of Motor Vehicles can provide the information about the last owner written in the vehicles title after you make a request by filling out a special form. Although the laws regulating discloser of vehicle owner's private data vary in different states, all local Departments of Motor Vehicles conform to the Drivers Privacy Protection Act, so the chance to get the owners's name and address based on the VIN are small unless you prove that you really need it. California has more restrictions than all other states. However, there is one trick that may work in some states or counties. Vehicle owner names are closed information, but tax information is public. Vehicle owner name and address may show up if you run property tax search based on VIN number. In particular, this works for Greenville County, SC (use the site greenvillecounty.org). You may want to check tax databases for other states. You can also find the previous vehicle owner's name if you get the copy on the title. As to the past owners, the current owner may be able to give you this information.
Do car history reports help find the owner by VIN?
If you browse the web you may find some pages that recommend you to visit a VIN number check site and get a vehicle history report to learn about the vehicle's history and it's past and current owners. However, this information is misleading - it's a common misconception that vehicle history reports provided online list current and previous vehicle owners. Indeed, the reports include ownership data which is limited to the number of owners in the history of a specific vehicle, the states where the ownership has been registered, ownership change dates, if the vehicle has been owned by an insurance company and was given a salvage title, police, car rent companies or any other businesses associated with specific uses of vehicles. However, owner names are never included in the reports in accordance with the Drivers Privacy Protection Act that prohibits third parties, such as AutoCheck, CARFAX or other car history companies from distributing such information. No names or addresses! Nevertheless, in you can understand and interpret reports you can easily do without vehicle owner check at the DMV. In addition, a VIN report with a problem vehicle history can give you grounds to request the owner's info at the DMV.
Please, note that with boats you can find the owner by VIN (HIN, a 12-digit code). Unlike with cars, boat owner information is considered public records so you may just need to contact the state DMV and, possibly, pay a small fee for the service. Boat VIN number check is also a popular service as boats are also often prone to hidden damage and problems resulting form addidents, wear and poor maintenance.