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Maine Public Records
License Plate Lookup

License Plate Lookup in Maine

A Maine license plate lookup uses a vehicle's license plate number to obtain more information about the vehicle linked with the number plate through a lookup tool often located online. Prospective buyers usually perform a license plate lookup to obtain information on a vehicle, such as a vehicle's current owner, the vehicle's last renewal date, condition, and any related lien. Additional information that may be obtained from a Maine license plate search includes:

  • Branded title
  • Accident or damage report
  • Car registration issues
  • Recent vehicle inspections
  • Limited license plate owner information
  • Driver's criminal history
  • Odometer readings
  • Vehicle description

Although a license plate lookup is more commonly done when purchasing a used vehicle, it can also be performed for selected Maine traffic record information or when an individual is involved in an accident when quick information is required about the vehicle and the driver for submitting a complaint to law enforcement.

In Maine, you may perform a license plate lookup by visiting the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Generally, information or vehicle records obtained from the Maine BMV are accurate and current. Alternatively, you may do a license plate search using one of the many online vendors that provide the service. While some of these third-party vendors provide the service free, others charge a fee. Often, free services offer only basic vehicle reports, which may not be up to date. If you use a paid service or conduct your license plate lookup through the Maine BMV, you are more likely to receive updated and accurate vehicle reports and information.

What is a Maine License Plate?

Maine license plates are metal number plates containing characters such as numbers and alphabets assigned to be affixed by the state to vehicles for registration and identification purposes. Maine requires most categories of vehicles to bear front and rear license plates, while only rear plates are required of trailers and motorcycles. License plates were first officially issued in Maine in 1905. Since then, the Maine license plate has changed colors and designs. License plates in Maine are issued by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Maine's general issue license plate is also known as the Chickadee Plate. This design is the basic design for any plate in the state. It is issued in various classifications, including, Antique, Combination, Bus, Commercial, Commercial Tractor, Disability, Disability Motor Home, Hire, Motor Home, Horseless Carriage, Special Equipment, Farm, and Street Rod. Maine also issues specialty plates to designate a particular association or distinction.

The Chickadee Plate has a black embossed serial on a reflective white plate with borderline, a black-capped chickadee on pine cone and tassel screened at left, and a green pine forest silhouette screened at the bottom. The word "MAINE" is also screened in black centered at the top of the plate. The design has the slogan "vacationland" screened in black in the center of the pine forest silhouette.

Passenger License Plates vs. Commercial License Plates

Maine passenger license plates are general issue license plates issued to road motor vehicles, other than motorcycles, designed for the carriage of passengers and intended to seat about nine persons, including the driver. On the other hand, commercial license plates are issued to commercial vehicles. Maine defines a commercial vehicle as any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle in commerce used for transporting passengers or property when the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight or gross combination vehicle weight, or gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating reaching 10,001 pounds or more. The vehicle must also be used to transport 15 or more passengers, including the driver, or transport hazardous materials in quantities requiring placarding.

To obtain passenger license plates in Maine, you need only title and register your vehicle as a passenger vehicle with the Maine BMV. All vehicles weighing above 6,000 pounds are registered by weight in Maine. The state assigns a commercial license plate to any vehicle registering for more than 6,000 pounds regardless of whether the registrant is a business or a private person. For more information on registering commercial vehicles by weight, visit the commercial vehicles or motor carrier services page of the BMV website.

How Do I Get a License Plate in Maine?

To obtain a license plate from the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, you must complete your vehicle registrations. License plates are issued after completing vehicle registrations. To complete registrations for passenger vehicles purchased from Maine-based licensed dealers, the following are required:

  • Pay the applicable excise tax at your local town office. You may contact your local municipal office for further information. If the vehicle is brand new, you must present the manufacturer's recommended retail price label (also known as the Monroney Label) or duplicate the sticker to the tax collector.
  • Prepare these documents:
    • Bill of sale or sales agreement from the dealer.
    • Blue title application. This is required if the vehicle's model year is 1995 or newer.
    • Proof of insurance. ID card, policy, or binder is acceptable.
    • The White and yellow copy of the registration application and excise tax receipt received from the town office.
  • Visit a BMV branch office with the above-listed documents if your municipality does not participate in the BMV registration program. Applicants contact local municipal offices to determine if they participate in the registration program.
  • Pay the appropriate registration fees based on the type of plate selected.
  • Vanity plates may be obtained from a BMV branch office on chosen license plate types. The state charges an additional annual fee of $25 for vanity plates. You may complete an availability check for a vanity plate online.
  • A disability plate may be obtained but with a physician's signature on the application.

To register a private sale-purchased passenger vehicle in Maine, follow these steps:

  • Pay your excise tax at the town office. For further information, contact your local municipal office.
  • Prepare these documents:
    • Bill of sale signed (The BMV provides a bill of sale template on its website)
    • If the car is model year 1995 or newer, the prior owner(s) signed over the title to the new owner(s)
    • Insurance documentation (ID card, policy, or binder)
    • The white and yellow copy of the registration application and excise tax receipt obtained from the town office
  • If you reside in a municipality not participating in the BMV registration program, it is recommended that you visit a BMV branch office with the documents listed above. You may check with your local municipality to see whether they participate in our registration service.
  • Pay the 5.5% Maine sales tax on the vehicle's purchase price.
  • If applicable, pay the $33 title application fee (for model year 1995 or newer).
  • Pay the required registration fees for the kind of plate chosen.
  • For an extra yearly price of $25.00, vanity plates are available at any BMV branch office on certain plate types. You can find out whether a vanity plate is available online.
  • Disability plates are available. The plate application must be signed by a physician.

For more information on completing vehicle title and registrations for other types of automobiles, and new Maine resident vehicle registrations, visit the registration and plates page and the passenger vehicle registration page of the BMV website. You may also contact the BMV at:

101 Hospital Street
Augusta, ME
Phone: (207) 624-9204

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

Individuals interested in locating the owner of a Louisiana license plate may accomplish the task by using any license plate lookup tool that searches public databases or motor vehicle records. A license plate search will provide basic information about the vehicle and its owner but will most likely not reveal personal information such as the vehicle owner's name. In search results, sensitive vehicle owner information is typically withheld in compliance with the Driver's Privacy Protection Act. The Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) prohibits the public's access to vehicle owners' names, addresses, and phone numbers. Only approved persons, such as licensed security services, government agencies, and insurance firms, have a legal right to access this information. They may do so only for legitimate reasons (court proceedings, notice to owners of towed vehicles, employment, surveys).

Nonetheless, by cross-referencing the information received from a license plate search with publicly accessible information discovered in other public databases like phone directories, it is possible to swiftly establish a link between a Maine license plate and its owner.

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.

Maine License Plate Renewal

You may renew your license plates in Maine when your vehicle registration is due for renewal. Vehicle registrations are typically due for renewals annually. If your municipality offers Rapid Renewal, an online registration renewal service, you may be able to complete your full renewal online. For further information, please visit the Rapid Renewal website. If your municipality does not participate, you must visit your local town hall and follow the processes outlined below to renew your vehicle registration.

  • Pay your excise tax at the town office.
  • Documents required:
    • Insurance documentation (ID card, policy, or binder)
    • Copy of registration application in white and yellow, as well as excise tax receipt (from town office)
  • If your municipality is not partaking in the BMV registration program, you must visit a BMV branch office with the documents listed above. You may check with your local municipality to see whether they participate in the registration program.
  • Pay the required registration fee.
  • For an extra yearly price of $25.00, vanity plates are available at any BMV branch office on certain plate types. You may check the availability of vanity plates and buy them online.
  • Disability plates are available. However, the application must be signed by a physician.

For further information on renewals, contact the BMV Registration Section at (207) 624-9000 ext. 52149 or by email at

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes. Both the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and a vehicle's license plate are linked in public vehicle records. The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles obtains vehicle information, including VINs and license plate numbers, when receiving applications for vehicle registrations in the state. The records are then maintained in a database and can be searched by visiting any of the BMV branch offices in the state.

VIN Number Lookup

The VIN, also called the Vehicle Identification Number, is a unique serial number attached to vehicles by manufacturers for identification purposes. A VIN lookup is a search conducted by putting a known vehicle identification number in a lookup tool to obtain vehicle information. To find the VIN of a vehicle, you may check the driver's side dashboard by standing outside the vehicle and looking at the corner where the dashboard meets the windshield. The VIN may also be located in the driver's side door or doorjamb, printed on a sticker. Other places where a VIN can be found are on the vehicle title, vehicle insurance card, or insurance policy.

A Maine VIN check can protect you from purchasing a vehicle with a questionable history. A VIN lookup will reveal information about:

  • Past ownership
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Flood damage
  • Accident history
  • Airbag deployments
  • Liens held on the vehicle
  • Faulty odometer settings

Another important reason why individuals conduct VIN lookups is to verify the VIN number information in Maine is to ascertain the accuracy of the VIN number itself. Unfortunately, VINs may be changed by vehicle sellers for any purpose, including concealing the vehicle's real history. If a vehicle is stolen or the seller intends to provide misleading information regarding the vehicle's brand, model, or edition, VIN manipulation may occur.



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