People often ask if it is possible to obtain someone’s home address using only their car registration plate details.
There are many reasons that an individual, business or agency may be asking this question and do not already hold the address details of the person driving a vehicle:
Someone may wish to obtain a person’s address from the car registration plate if they have been involved in a road traffic accident with that car or if the driver of that car has caused damage to their own vehicle or property and left the scene without providing their details.
It may be that a vehicle has been left abandoned on private property or land and the owner of the land needs to obtain the details of the person responsible for the vehicle and its removal to prevent them from having to meet these costs themselves.
A business or company may need to ascertain the identity and residency of a person who has left their premises having taken goods of services without paying for them, in order to contact the person to request payment or to take legal action to pursue this.
A parking enforcement agency or company, or other driving penalty enforcement agency may need to gain information relating to the address of the owner of a vehicle to issue or pursue a parking or other driving offence penalty or paperwork.
There may have been a disagreement, altercation or conflict with the person driving the vehicle; they may be unknown to the person seeking the information but have caused damage to their property or harmed them in some way. The person may be seeking to pursue this through legal means or may even be seeking retribution in other ways and need the address of the individual to do so. The registration plate may be the only information they hold.
There may have been a driving offence committed and unseen by the police, or something concerning that a person has observed such as a person getting into a vehicle to drive when under the influence of alcohol or other substances, a baby being transported without adequate and legal safety measures employed or something about the vehicle which indicates it is unroadworthy and the observer wishes to gain the address or contact details of the person to follow this up with them.
Possibly there has been an incident of road rage that has occurred, and a person wishes to continue this or take matters further and requires the home address of the other person involved to act on this.
The answer to whether or not you can obtain a person’s address from their registration plate is sometimes yes and sometimes no! There are situations where this is possible, but this is determined by a number of factors and by privacy laws covering personal information.
An initial obstacle to obtaining someone’s home address from their vehicle registration that needs to be taken into account is the fact that the person driving the vehicle at the time of the incident in question may not be the owner of the vehicle; they may be a friend or relative of the owner and borrowing the vehicle, they may be a named driver or driving under their own fully comprehensive and transferrable insurance or they may even have stolen the vehicle.
It might be a hire car or company fleet vehicle. This would all mean that the vehicle registration would never trace back to this individual even if you did get hold of this information. There is also the matter of false registration of vehicles; individuals provide the home address of the vehicle themselves.
Whilst it would invalidate insurance if this was found not to be the location that the vehicle was actually kept at, a person who is engaged in illegal or harmful activities and behaviours is unlikely to be concerned by this and if they do not want their home address to be traced through the registration of the car that they drive they may well have provided false information when registering ownership of the vehicle. It could also be that the person now driving and owning the vehicle did not complete documents on transfer of the vehicle ownership or have not updated these following a move or change of address.
All of this means that no matter what information you are able to access through a car registration number, there is a possibility that any address details you gain will be unhelpful, inaccurate, false or out of date.
There are online sites advertising a service where a person seeking the address of an individual from their car registration plate can input this and pay a fee to receive this information; however, on deeper inspection, it becomes clear that these sites have been somewhat dishonest in their initial claims and that you are not going to get the actual address of the person but other details such as ownership history, MOT records and failures and any credit or finance outstanding on the vehicle. This is a con; you can gain all of this information yourself for free simply by going on the government website.
You can use the UK vehicle enquiry service at www.vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk to type in the registration plate number of any vehicle and obtain details of MOT history, credit outstanding and transfer of ownership dates etc at absolutely no cost at all. This is in place so that potential purchasers of vehicles can be sure that they are getting what they think they are getting when they hand over money for a car and that the seller is being honest with them about any mechanical or financial issues past or outstanding. This will not, however, provide you with the address details of the current owner but neither will the scam websites offering to do this so save your money!
There are occasions where a person can legitimately obtain the address details of the owner of the vehicle through the registration plate number. It needs to be remembered that if the vehicle is incorrectly registered or the person using the vehicle at the time of the incident is not it’s owner then this will not directly resolve the issue, but may help with the eventual achieving of this. A person or business can, at no cost, use the government service on www.gov.uk/request-information-from-dvla to complete specific forms requesting that the DVLA provide the address details for the owner of the car registration supplied. However, the sharing of this information is restricted by the Data Protection Act and an application will need to be deemed legitimate to result in the provision of an address. Examples of situations where an address would be provided by the DVLA include:
- Finding out the person who was responsible for a road traffic accident
- Finding out who is the owner of an abandoned vehicle that has been left on private land or a vehicle that has been parked on private land
- Parking enforcement agencies to provide tickets or penalties or pursue this
- Finding a person who has left without paying for an item(s) or service received
- Finding someone who is suspected of committing insurance fraud
It will not be possible to find out the address of a person using their registration plate details if there is not a legitimate reason behind this and the address is wanted to pursue or retaliate following an altercation, argument or incident of road rage.
If illegal activity or criminal behaviour has been observed to be undertaken by the person driving the vehicle it is not necessary to obtain the address of the driver but important to report this concern to the police, along with the registration plate number, so that they can follow this up in a legal and enforceable manner with the driver.