A VIN verification is typically conducted by certified Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) officials. In general, a vehicle identification number (VIN) is used to identify a car and verify its ownership. This is possible because each number is unique and tied to one particular vehicle. Current federal VIN laws require new numbers to be 17 characters long and permanently attached to its vehicle. Thus, prospective buyers or new owners may look up and verify a VIN number in order to learn more about a car’s history. Furthermore, inspecting newly-purchased or re-registered vehicles is necessary in order to ensure that a VIN is deemed valid and intact. On the other hand, it is important to note that VIN lengths and inspection requirements may differ depending on the state.

After a vehicle verification has been completed, owners may title and register the car, thus being allowed to legally operate it on public roads. As such, despite the fact that most states conduct VIN inspection procedures at no cost at their DMV offices, additional vehicle registration and car title fees may apply. In any case, a DMV VIN verification form must be completed in person, and this type of inspection cannot be performed without an official inspector present. To learn more about this procedure, read the sections below.

When is a VIN verification required?

A VIN inspection is typically performed when a vehicle’s ownership must be verified, or when a car’s identification documents are missing. Depending on the state, an inspection will be required during the following circumstances:

  • The vehicle was transferred from another state or country.
  • The car has a missing, altered or damaged VIN.
  • The vehicle has a missing title, and thus requires a new title and registration.
  • The car has been built or rebuilt from salvage and/or used parts.
  • The vehicle was abandoned and requires a new title.
  • This is a composite, military, antique or three-wheeled vehicle.

Because VIN verification requirements vary from state to state, exceptions to the abovementioned circumstances may apply. For instance, certain states do not require VIN inspections for cars undergoing registration renewals, nor do they demand these procedures for vehicles that do not require titles. On the other hand, other state car inspection regulations may have stricter rules. For example, Washington DC requires all cars to be inspected before they can be registered.

Regardless of the specific eligibility laws, if an owner needs to verify a VIN number, he or she must complete the state’s verification steps in order to legally operate the car in question on public roads. To learn more about the particular requirements and methods that apply to your vehicle, click on your state below:

Where can I go to obtain a VIN inspection?

Depending on the state and on an applicant’s particular circumstances, car verification inspections may be carried out by military officers, law enforcement officers, DMV staff members, authorized mechanics, notary publics or licensed dealers. For example, in Oregon, you may bring your vehicle to the DMV, to a dealership that has that car model is in stock, or to the state’s department of environmental quality. Conversely, in Alabama, a vehicle VIN verification must only be performed by DMV registration officials or law enforcement officers.

In certain cases, a state may recognize out-of-state VIN inspections. However, an additional letter of identification may be required to validate those assessments. Conversely, certain states may require you to visit specific car inspection stations. As an example, eligible Alabama residents must bring their vehicles to a designated inspection site. In contrast, Connecticut residents are permitted to bring their cars to group inspection lanes at most DMV centers.

What to Bring to a VIN Number Verification

The VIN verification process may require you to bring supporting documents to the inspection site. Ownership documents, such as a bill of sale, certificate of title or certificate of origin may need to be surrendered to the inspector as part of the examination. In most cases, a DMV VIN verification form needs to be completed by the inspector and handed to you after the exam is complete. This form may then be used to title or register your vehicle at a state DMV branch.

Various states issue one-time permits to owners driving unregistered vehicles to car inspection stations. As such, applicants must be in possession of these permits when operating these cars without proper registration credentials. Furthermore, certain fees may be charged at the time of a VIN inspection. However, these costs will vary from state to state. Moreover, additional registration and titling fees may apply.

A vehicle VIN verification can only be performed if the car is in proper working condition and deemed eligible for use on public roads. In addition, all parts and pieces of equipment that are required by state and federal laws must be intact and operational for an inspection to be conducted.

What to Do After Completing a VIN Inspection

After you verify a VIN number through a qualified inspector, you may apply for a new car title or registration at a local DMV branch. However, be mindful that registration and titling rules will differ from state to state. In general, a VIN inspection form must accompany your title or registration request in order for the application to be successfully processed. Moreover, power of attorney forms may be required in the case of vehicle owners who are unable to submit this paperwork themselves.

Certain states have established deadlines in the event that you lose a DMV VIN inspection form. For example, Connecticut allows applicants to replace a lost form within 30 days. If you fail to do so during that timeframe, a new inspection must be scheduled, and you will be required to pay a $10 fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Furthermore, DMV inspection forms may require your signature, and must be completed with accurate information. Fines and penalties may apply if an applicant knowingly falsifies information on official DMV documents.

Generally, VIN verifications do not have to be completed in a set time frame. However, a state’s particular car registration deadline may play a role in when you must undergo this type of inspection. For example, Florida applicants must register their vehicles within 30 days of becoming residents. Therefore, an inspection must be scheduled and completed before the 30-day deadline in order for a car owner to apply for a registration.

Last updated on Thursday, October 4 2018.

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