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New Mexico Public Records
License Plate Lookup

License Plate Lookup in New Mexico

When you conduct a license plate lookup, you use a search tool to obtain information about the vehicle associated with the license plate by inputting the plate number in the search tool. A license plate lookup can sometimes also provide information on the vehicle driver's history. Still, not all information on the driver may be made available in a public search. Pursuant to the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Department is prohibited from releasing the driver's personal information in license plate searches. Protected information includes the driver's license or ID card number, driver's address, driver's Social Security number, telephone number, and medical records contained in motor vehicle or driver records. The Act only permits law enforcement to find personal information about vehicle owners through license plate lookups.

Typically, you will be able to obtain selected New Mexico traffic records and the following information through a license plate lookup:

  • Vehicle information such as body type and engine specifications
  • Accident report
  • Amount of people that owned the vehicle
  • Traffic citations linked to the vehicle
  • Vehicle registration details
  • Recent odometer readings
  • A vehicle's registration status
  • Vehicle history report

In New Mexico, a license plate lookup may be conducted via the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) or from third-party online sites. To obtain information from the New Mexico MVD, an appointment at a local office may be required. You can be sure to obtain current and accurate reports from lookups conducted from the MVD, while the same cannot be said for information or reports obtained through third-party internet sites, particularly if the search service is free.

You can find third-party vendors offering paid and free license plate search services in New Mexico. Usually, premium services provide users with more comprehensive information than free ones. Persons seeking to obtain vehicle history information when purchasing a used vehicle in New Mexico will find license plate lookups helpful in deciding whether to buy and the value of the vehicles.

What is a New Mexico License Plate?

A New Mexico license plate is a number plate affixed to a vehicle registered in the state for identification purposes. Motorists in New Mexico have been required to display license plates since 1912. Since 1961, only rear number plates have been required in New Mexico. Per Section 66-3-18 of the New Mexico Statutes, license plates are required to be affixed to the rear of vehicles for which they are issued; however, road tractors or truck tractors must have license plates attached to the front of the automobiles. License plates must be securely fastened at all times and fixed in a horizontal position at the height of not less than 12 inches from the ground, measuring from the bottom of the plate.

New Mexico issues various license plates, including standard license plates and specialty number plates. Certain persons and vehicle types are also issued unique license plates in New Mexico. These include elected officials, state agencies, government agencies, manufactured homes, recreational vehicles, and trailers.

New Mexico standard license plates may come in the standard centennial design, standard red and yellow license plate, or the Chile plate design. The standard centennial design has an embossed yellow serial on a turquoise plate with a borderline, yellow and red Zia sun symbol embossed in the center, and "NEW MEXICO" screened in white centered below serial. The expression "CENTENNIAL 1912-2012" is screened in white centered at the top, while "LAND OF ENCHANTMENT" is screened in yellow at the bottom center area.

The Chile plate design displays the word "USA" to differentiate it from license plates from Mexico, which borders the state of New Mexico to the southwest. The current design was introduced in 2017 and has an embossed yellow serial on a black plate with borderline: red and green chili peppers screened on the left, and "New Mexico USA" written in red centered below the serial number. The slogan "CHILE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD" is also screened in the top center in yellow, with the green-colored slogan "Land of Enchantment" in the bottom center.

The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division also permits residents to obtain personalized license plates. A vehicle owner, including owners of motorcycles, may apply for the issuance of special "prestige" or "vanity" plates. The New Mexico (MVD) permits the traditional yellow and turquoise designs and the Chile plates on regular and motorcycle prestige plans. Only alphanumeric characters may be used on these license plates.

A yellow prestige plate may have between one and seven characters (1-6 characters for a motorcycle). A turquoise prestige plate may have between one and eight characters (1-6 characters for a motorcycle). A Chilean prestige plate may have between one and six characters (1-5 characters for a motorcycle). Any combination of numbers and letters may be used as characters. A character set may be denied if it:

  • Duplicates an existing plate;
  • Is deemed disparaging or vulgar by the division; or
  • Falsely claims or indicates that the vehicle or driver represents the authority of a governmental agency or official. Special characters such as the Zia symbol, a hashtag, an asterisk, a dash, an underscore, or a space are not permitted.

Passenger License Plates vs. Commercial License Plates

New Mexico Motor Vehicle Department distinguishes between passenger and commercial vehicles and issues license plates accordingly. Passenger license plates are the standard vehicle plates issued to regular vehicles used for personal purposes. Commercial license plates are issued to self-propelled or towed vehicles, other than special mobile equipment, used on public highways in commerce to transport property or passengers when the vehicle:

  • Is operated interstate and has a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, or gross vehicle combination weight rating or gross weight rating of at least 10,001 pounds or 4,536 kilograms; or is operated exclusively in intrastate commerce and has a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, or gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, of at least 26,001 pounds;
  • Is intended for or used to carry more than eight people, including the driver, for pay;
  • Is built or utilized for the transportation of more than 15 people, including the driver, and is not used for compensation; or
  • Is used to carry hazardous chemicals in quantities or types that need placarding under relevant federal or state legislation.

To register a commercial vehicle in New Mexico, the following are required:

  • Complete vehicle titling at any of the MVD Field Offices.
  • Completed IRS Form 2290 with the appropriate weight category code. This form applies to vehicles weighing 55,000 lbs. or more.
  • Complete the New Mexico International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA).
  • Complete the Apportioned Registration Application Schedule A & B (MVD Form 11026).
  • File a quarterly IFTA fuel tax report.
  • Register online for the state Weight Distance Tax E-Permit.
  • Obtain authority from the state Public Regulation Commission (PRC) of you intend to provide transportation of persons or property for hire, from point-to-point in New Mexico. You can find more PRC information by visiting the MVD website or contacting the PRC at (505) 827-4519.
  • Apply for a United States Department of Transportation (DOT) number from the New Mexico Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) office in Albuquerque. You can obtain an application by the New Mexico FMCSA at (505) 346-7858.
  • File a quarterly New Mexico weight-distance tax report.

The requirements for obtaining a passenger license plate are the same as obtaining a standard license plate in New Mexico.

How Do I Get a License Plate in New Mexico?

A resident of New Mexico who owns a registered and titled car may obtain either the regular yellow plate or the Centennial Plate (Turquoise). Both are standard license plates in the state. There are no fees or forms required, and any of these plates may be sought at the time of the vehicle's original registration.

However, to register a new vehicle in New Mexico, the following will be required:

  • An original or certified copy of the dealer's invoice or purchase agreement
  • An original copy of the MCO (Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin)
  • Odometer Statement. This may be one of:
    • MVD Form 10002 - Application for Title and Registration
    • MVD Form 10187 - Odometer Mileage Statement
    • Odometer mileage state on the back of the MCO
  • Proof of insurance

To register used vehicles, the following are required:

  • Certificate of Title
  • Odometer Statement
  • Completed Assignment of Title section on the back of the Certificate of Title Bill of Sale - MVD Form 10009
  • MVD Form 10187 - Odometer Disclosure Statement
  • MVD Form 10002 - Application for Vehicle Title and Registration
  • Proof of insurance

Vehicle registration fees vary depending on weight. You may obtain more information about registration fees, registration for other types of vehicles, and access required forms by visiting the vehicle registration page of the New Mexico MVD website. Registrations may be completed by visiting any MVD locations in New Mexico.

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

A license plate lookup may be used to determine the owner of a vehicle registered to a New Mexico license plate. A license plate lookup in New Mexico will present publicly accessible information associated with a license plate's registration in the state. While this information may not include a vehicle owner's name or contact information (for privacy reasons), it may contain information that assists in identifying the vehicle owner.

If you need this information for legitimate purposes, contact the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) and request to look up the MVD records. Additionally, law enforcement authorities may be contacted to identify the license plate owner if a crime has been committed.

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.

New Mexico License Plate Renewal

License plates are renewed when vehicle registrations are renewed in New Mexico. You can renew your registration by mail, online, or by visiting a New Mexico MVD Field Office.

To complete vehicle registration renewal online, you will be required to provide:

  • License plate number and the last six characters of the vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Control number. The control number is available on the reminder renewal postcard.
  • Credit card information. This will be used to pay your registration fees with a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover card.

To complete your renewal by mail, mail in the registration renewal form received from the New Mexico MVD with a check for either a one-year renewal or two-year renewal. A check must be made payable to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division. Cash or credit card information is not accepted. Send payment and completed application to:

Motor Vehicle Division
P.O. Box 25129
Santa Fe, NM 87504-5129

For in-person visits to any New Mexico MVD Field Office, take your current registration information along and prepare to provide payment for a one-year or a two-year renewal. MVD Field Offices accept payments with cash or check. Note that you can receive up to a 5% discount on renewal if you complete the process using the online method.

Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?

Yes. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) may be used to check for license plates. While a vehicle owner is required to register a vehicle with the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Department, the registration process also requires registrants to provide additional information about the vehicle and the vehicle owner, which the MVD will maintain. Thus, if the vehicle's VIN is known, information on the license plate linked with the VIN may be obtained.

VIN Number Lookup

A VIN, or vehicle identification number, is a unique 17-character identifier assigned to each vehicle. A VIN lookup is a search that uses a tool to obtain a lot of information about the vehicle to which it was given. In New Mexico, a VIN lookup can assist you in avoiding the purchase of a vehicle with a problematic history. Another significant reason to verify VIN information in New Mexico is to ascertain the accuracy of the VIN itself. Unfortunately, VINs may be changed by the seller for any purpose, including concealing the vehicle's genuine history. If a car is stolen or the seller wishes to convey misleading information regarding the vehicle's brand, model, or edition, VIN manipulation may occur. Conducting a VIN lookup is critical before purchasing a car or entering into any agreements. Looking up VINs guarantees that you do not purchase a vehicle from someone who is not revealing all relevant information about the vehicle's history.

Before performing a VIN lookup, you must first find out the VIN. The VIN is often located in the bottom left corner of the windscreen. You may need to look through the glass to see the VIN since it is often not visible from the inside. Certain automobiles also print VINs on other parts of the vehicle. While VINs are more commonly found in the front areas of vehicles, you may also find VINs in the locations listed below:

  • The engine block
  • Inside the driver side door
  • The trunk or spare tire well
  • The front end of the frame


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