We now give you the option of checking your vehicles history by doing a licence plate check by entering the licence plate into our database checking tool. The licence plate is also known as the number plate and is located at either end of the vehicle on the bumper or just below the bumper.

The licence plate is made up of a series of numbers and letters and to use the best license plate lookup Canada offers, you should enter this into our tool without any spaces or dashes.

An example of this is: FTY675

Some licence plates are known as personalised, where people have paid to buy a plate with a word on it rather than a series of random letters and numbers. These plates can still be put through our licence plate check tool.

The information that our database holds for a licence plate check vs a VIN check is the same so you can be rest assured that no matter what number you enter of these two, that you will receive the same information from official data sources. So, it’s up to you which one you use, but a lot of people prefer performing a licence plate check because it’s easier to find on their specific car than the VIN number.

license plate check



Why Do A Licence Plate Check?

Buying a second hand car in Canada can be a daunting process, especially if you don’t have much experience in this type of process. One way to ensure that you are making a wise investment is by getting a vehicle history report by licence plate number on the vehicle you are considering purchasing. Here are some of the key benefits of a licence plate check when buying a used vehicle:

  1. Verification of Vehicle Ownership

A licence plate check can provide you with information about the current registered owner of the vehicle. This can be helpful in verifying that the seller of the vehicle is the legal owner and has the authority to sell it. 

This is especially important if you’re looking to buy a vehicle in a private sale as you’re not dealing with a registered car sales business. You can also verify that the vehicle has not been reported stolen, which is essential when making such a significant purchase.

  1. Accurate Vehicle History

By conducting a licence plate check, you can obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report. This report will provide you with detailed information about the car’s previous owners, service and repair history, accident history, previous damage, airbag deployment, recalled parts information and so on. 

You can use this owner information to make an informed decision about whether or not to purchase the vehicle.

  1. Outstanding Liens and Financial Obligations

If there are any outstanding liens or financial obligations on the vehicle, checking license plate numbers will reveal this information. This can prevent you from purchasing a used car with a hidden debt, which can be costly and stressful to deal with because if you buy the vehicle it could be repossessed from you by the loan company if the previous owner fails to pay them back the debt. 

You can also check if a car has a lien on the Government of Canada website, but these public websites don’t have as much detailed information as our comprehensive Canada license plate lookup.

  1. Peace of Mind

Finally, conducting an Ontario licence plate lookup, Quebec, Alberta, or BC license plate lookup on a second hand car can provide you with peace of mind. By knowing as much information as possible about the vehicle you are purchasing, you can be confident that you are making a wise investment. This can also help you negotiate a fair price for the vehicle based on its condition and history.

Be Aware of License Plate Swaps

People can illegally swap the licence plate between different vehicles quite easily, so it pays to check that the make, model, color etc of the vehicle you’re doing the licence plate check on, matches all the information shown within the vehicle history report. 

This practice is on the increase in Canada and the USA; in Houston alone there were 516 licence plates stolen in the first three months of this year according to the Houston Police Dept as reported in ABC13. Unscrupulous sellers may use the license plates of other cars to hide the history of a used vehicle.

If the report shows a different vehicle, then you’ll need to locate the VIN number on the vehicle and do a VIN check instead, because the VIN belongs to the chassis of the vehicle and is far less likely to be swapped. To play it safe, we’d recommend doing both a licence plate and VIN check at the same time.

Simply click on the button below and this will take you to our licence plate tool where you can enter your plate number and get the vehicle history report for the car you’re looking to buy. It’s much quicker and easier than going to the local DMV, and unlike government agencies where there’s always an additional fee, our license plate lookup is free online in Canada.



Features of a License Plate Canada

Canada is a vast and diverse country, and its license plates reflect this diversity. Here are some common features of Canadian license plates:

1. Provinces and Territories:

Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories, each with its unique licence plate designs and formats. These plates often feature symbols or imagery that represents the region:

  • Ontario plates have a graphic of a trillium.
  • Quebec plates have “Quebec” or “Je me souviens.”
  • British Columbia plates have a depiction of a mountain.
  • Northwest Territories plates feature the northern lights.
  • Prince Edward Island features maple leaves
  • New Brunswick has a bly sky above the license plate numbers
  • Newfoundland and Labrador have a graphic that shows parts of the provincial flag
  • Nova Scotia has a very distinctive image of famous ship the Bluenose in the middle of the plate
  • Alberta license plates have red lettering on a plain white background.

Interestingly, only Ontario, British Colombia, and Manitoba require license plates on the front and back of the vehicle. In other provinces, you only need a single plate on the back.

2. Serial Numbers:

Most Canadian plates consist of a combination of letters and numbers. These serial numbers are specific to each plate and are used to identify individual vehicles.

licence plate quebec

3. Stickers and Registration Information:

License plates often display plate stickers that indicate the plate’s expiration date. Additionally, these stickers may also signify that the vehicle has been registered with the province or territory’s transportation authority.

4. Custom and Personalized Plates:

Many provinces and territories in Canada offer the option of custom or personalized license plates in Canada. This means vehicle owners can choose a specific combination of letters and numbers, or in some cases, words. These special plates are sometimes also called a vanity plate.

These custom plates often come with an additional fee and are subject to specific guidelines and restrictions.

5. Special Interest Plates:

Some provinces offer specialty license plates that support various causes and organizations. For example, in British Columbia, you can obtain special interest plates featuring wildlife imagery or supporting various charities.

The extra fees paid for these plates often go towards the cause they represent.

Licence Plate Check - Frequently Asked Questions

Can I check a vehicle’s history using the licence plate?

Yes, a vehicle’s history can be checked using just the licence plate alone without the need for the vehicle’s VIN. You can get the same information from using the licence plate check as you would with a VIN check.

What history information can I get about a vehicle using the licence plate?

You can get information on the vehicle’s previous owners, previous damage, any liens on the vehicle, previous use of the vehicle, its service history, and much more.

Is there any downside to checking a vehicle’s history with the licence plate rather than the VIN?

Because a licence plate can be swapped between two different vehicles, we do encourage users to check the basic details of the vehicle history report in terms of the brand, model, color, etc of the vehicle to see that the report matches the details of the physical vehicle. If they don’t match then the plates have been swapped and the report isn’t relevant to the vehicle you want to check.

Can I check personalized licence plates on Vehicle Check Canada?

Yes, because personalized licence plates have been assigned to the vehicle in question, just like any other number plate, you can use the vehicle history report we provide on this website as you would with a normal vehicle check.

Is the cost to check a vehicle’s history via the licence plate the same as the cost to do it via the VIN?

Yes, because the vehicle history reports information is the same with both methods of checking, the cost is also the same.

number plate check