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Rhode Island Public Records
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License Plate Lookup

License Plate Lookup in Rhodeisland

Rhode Island license plate lookup involves searching information about the person registered to a license plate and a vehicle's details using a license plate number. Performing a license plate lookup before purchasing a used vehicle in Rhode Island is recommended to avoid buying a stolen vehicle. Rhode Island license plate lookup can provide details about a vehicle's ownership history, maintenance history, inspection information, title information, and mileage. It can also return selected Rhode Island traffic records, a vehicle manufacturer's name, model, engine capacity, and year of manufacture.

Anyone can conduct a free license plate lookup in Rhode Island by searching resources providing such services online. They can also ask law enforcement, hire a private investigator, or request information from the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, these services may require some fees. Generally, paid license plate lookup provides more accurate and reliable information than free license plate lookup services.

What is a Rhode Island License Plate?

A license plate is a plastic or metal plate containing a vehicle's unique identifying number assigned by a relevant government agency after a vehicle registration. Title 31 Section 3(2) of the Rhode Island General Laws requires every vehicle to have a license plate, including trailers, motorized campers, pickup campers, and pickup coaches. Also, Title 31 Section 3(18) of the Rhode Island General Laws requires motor vehicles to have two license plates, one in front and one at the rear. However, trailers, in-transit vehicles, motorcycles, transporters, vehicles owned by car dealers, and commercially-used bailees can have single license plates attached to the rear.

The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles issues several categories of license plates, including:

  • Preferred license plates: These are for people who wish to choose their license plate characters. The types of license plates under this category are:
    • Passenger license plates
    • Commercial license plates
    • Combination license plates
    • Motorcycle license plates
    • Antique license plates
    • Suburban license plates
    • Veteran license plates
    • National guard license plates
    • Public license plates
  • Veteran license plates: These are given to persons who served in the U.S. military. They include:
    • National guard license plates
    • Disabled veteran license plates
    • Veteran license plates
    • Purple Heart license plates
    • Prisoner of war (POW) license plates
    • Veteran gold star parent license plate
  • Wave plate design license plates: These have the Rhode Island design of a light blue wave against a white background and the license plate numbers in dark blue color.
  • Sailboat design license plates: These have the alternate Rhode Island design of a gray sailboat against a white background and license plate numbers in dark blue.
  • Charity license plates: These are for members of certain charity organizations. The types of license plates under this category include:
    • Conservation through education license plates
    • Bristol Fourth of July license plates
    • Wildlife rehabilitators license plates
    • Gloria Gemma breast cancer resource foundation license plates
    • New England patriots license plates
    • Plum beach lighthouse license plates
    • Rhode Island community food bank (Mr potato head) license plates
    • Red sox foundation license plates
    • Autism awareness license plates
    • Rocky point foundation license plates
    • Rhode Island saltwater anglers foundation license plates
    • Rhode Island day of Portugal license plates
    • Providence college license plates
    • Gaspee days committee license plates
    • D-Strong license plates
    • Boy scouts of America license plates
    • Boston Bruins foundation license plates
  • Firefighter license plates: The DMV issues these license plates to members of the Rhode Island fire department who have served actively for a year or more or retired honorably.
  • Amateur radio operator license plates: These are for amateur radio operators whose vehicles have a gross weight of 9,000 pounds or less.
  • Electric hybrid license plates: These are for vehicles powered wholly or partly by an electric storage battery.

How Do I Get a License Plate in Rhode Island?

The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues license plates in the state. To obtain a license plate from the DMV, a person should:

  • Download and complete a TR-1 Form (Application for Registration Certificate and Title Certificate Form)
  • Provide a valid car insurance
  • Provide a completed dealer Sales Tax Form, if applicable
  • Provide a government-issued photo identification
  • Submit a bill of sale if the vehicle was bought from a private party
  • Provide a gift letter and completed SU 87-65 Form (Gift of Motor Vehicle Affidavit) for gifted vehicles; the letter must be notarized if the gift was from a non-immediate family member
  • Present evidence of previous vehicle owner, such as a registration certificate, if the vehicle was gifted and is of a 2000 model or older
  • Provide the gross vehicle weight (GVWR), if the vehicle was gifted (GVWR is usually stamped on the driver's side door VIN plate)
  • Pay the required fees via cash, credit card, bank check, money order, or personal check, payable to the Division of Motor Vehicles
  • Provide proof of residency in Rhode Island, such as:
    • Utility bill (cable, electric, gas, or telephone), payroll check stub, bank statement, or personal check, issued within 60 days preceding the application and bearing the applicant's name and address
    • Letter issued by the Rhode Island shelter or halfway house issued within 30 days before the application
    • Property tax bill or home insurance policy with the applicant's address and name
    • School records bearing the applicant's address, if the person is a minor

If a vehicle has multiple owners on the title, all parties must be present when submitting the license plate application. If one of the owners cannot be physically present, their signature on the TR-1 Form must be notarized. Also, if the license plate application is being submitted by a third party, the TR-1 Form must be notarized.

License plates applicants in Rhode Island can submit all the required documents and fees in person at any of the following DMV offices:

State of Rhode Island - Division of Motor vehicles
600 New London Avenue
Cranston, RI 02920-3024
Phone: (401) 462-4368

State of Rhode Island - Division of Motor vehicles
52 Valley Road
Middletown, RI 02842
Phone: (401) 846-5451

State of Rhode Island - Division of Motor vehicles
4808 Tower Hill Road
Wakefield, RI 02879
Phone: (401) 789-1430

State of Rhode Island - Division of Motor vehicles
Diamond Hill Plaza
2000 Diamond Hill Road
Woonsocket, RI 02895
Phone: (401) 597-0550

Anyone applying for a license plate with the Rhode Island DMV must book an appointment with the nearest DMV branch.

Passenger License Plates vs Commercial License Plates

Commercial license plates are those attached to motor vehicles used primarily for business purposes. On the other hand, passenger license plates are for vehicles used in transporting people for non-profit purposes. The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues commercial license plates primarily for trucks transporting property for profit.

How Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in Rhode Island

A person can search a Rhode Island license plate number on a third-party license plate lookup tool to retrieve information about its owner. They can use the information retrieved to obtain details about the license plate owner. For example, they can run a phone phone number disclosed by a license plate lookup tool through a phone number lookup database to find further information. Looking up a license plate at the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can also reveal information about the person registered to a vehicle.

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.

Rhode Island License Plate Renewal

The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) renews license plates in Rhode Island. Rhode Island license plates require renewal every two years, and the renewal process typically takes two weeks. The DMV mails renewal notices to vehicle owners before license plate expiration. However, a person with outstanding vehicle property taxes will be exempted from DMV renewal notification until they pay their tax and have their tax clearance sent to the DMV. To renew a Rhode Island license plate, a person needs a renewal notice or current vehicle registration, vehicle insurance card, and renewal fees.

Vehicle owners can renew their Rhode Island license plates through any of the following means:

  • Mail: To renew a license plate through this method, mail the renewal notice and required fees to:

Division of Motor Vehicles Attention: Registration Renewal
600 New London Avenue
Cranston, RI 02920

A person who did not receive a renewal notice should complete a Registration Renewal Form and mail it with the required fees to the DMV.

  • Online: A person renewing a Rhode Island license plate online should use the renewal portal and execute the instructions provided. Online renewal is not available for all types of motor vehicles. The DMV provides a list of vehicle types eligible for online license plate renewal.
  • Dropbox: A vehicle owner can renew their license plate in Rhode Island by depositing their renewal notice or Registration Renewal Form at any DMV office in a dropbox.

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes, anyone can use a VIN to look up a license plate. The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) links VINs with vehicles' license plate numbers during registration.

VIN Number Lookup

VIN lookup is the process of searching the details of a motor vehicle using its VIN. A person can conduct a VIN lookup online using a VIN lookup tool. A VIN lookup can return information on a motor vehicle, such as its odometer and accident history. A VIN can be found on the engine block, dashboard, windshield, or driver's side door pillar.

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