Minnesota License Plate Lookup

Minnesota License Plate Lookup

Do you want to buy a newly produced or used car? If so, you should do a Minnesota license plate lookup to know more about the vehicle. By doing so, you can know the full story about vehicles registered in Minnesota. For instance, the following facts are available:

  • Vehicle title
  • Last inspection time
  • Distance traveled measured by odometer
  • Mileage
  • Accident history
  • Use for special purposes such as taxi, police, or rental use
  • History of damage caused by fire and/or water
  • Thefts, liens, or repossession history (theft history search is easier when you have VIN – verification identification number)

The license plate search is easy. There are online platforms that provide info about vehicles. You should just insert the license plate number in the online platform and check the details. The other way is to submit a public record request to the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV).

To obtain owner information for a license plate in Minnesota the person needs to have an acceptable DPPA reason. DPPA stands for Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. It is a US federal law that tries to protect drivers’ personal information from disclosure. This law was a response to improper use of licensed drivers’ personal information collected by DMV.

Vehicle registration in Minnesota

Generally, to drive legally in Minnesota you must have a license plate. That means that most of the vehicles must have plates.

The first step for applying for a Minnesota license plate is registering the vehicle with the Driver and Vehicles Services Division of the Department of Public Safety. You can do that either by mail or in person. For that, just complete and send the title application form to an available certified titling office near you. The other option is sending it by email to the address mentioned in the form.

There are different deadlines for doing the registration. If you are a new resident you must register your vehicle within 60 days.

Unlike that, if you are not a Minnesota resident buying a vehicle in that state you should obtain a 31-day permit. That will allow you to transport your vehicle to your home state within that period.

On the other hand, residents who have bought an auto from a Minnesota dealer may acquire a 21-day permit. That will allow them to drive legally while waiting for their license plate. Usually, dealers help in this process. In particular, they handle the paperwork.

Applying for Minnesota license plate

For gaining a license plate in Minnesota you must present these documents: Certificate of vehicle title, proof of car insurance, application form completed, vehicle owner’s driver license, ID, reading of odometer, and registration fee. In many cases lease agreement is also required.

Also, each vehicle must have 2 license plates: one is for the front part – rear and the other for the bumper. Nevertheless, there are exceptions. The Department of Public Safety issues a single plate only when the passenger vehicle is a model of the year 1972 or even earlier. For having one plate it must be utilized for only general transportation.

Very importantly, if you have moved to Minnesota, you should first get a driver’s license in the state.

Minnesota license plate validity period

Once you acquire a license plate in Minnesota you must change it in 7 years. That means that the plate validity period for automobiles is 7 years. Moreover, you can see the year of expiration on the lower right corner of the license plate. Similarly, the month of expiration is mentioned on the lower left side of the plate.

Types of license plates

There are 16 types of plates in Minnesota. Each type has its requirements. You can choose from the mentioned plates. Here are the types:

  1. Bus
  2. Dealer plates
  3. Commercial plates
  4. Motorcycle or moped
  5. Disability plates
  6. Limousine plates
  7. Prorate plates
  8. Personalized plates
  9. Standard plates
  10. Recreational Vehicle plates
  11. Special registration plates
  12. Specialized plates
  13. Van pool plates
  14. Weight class plates
  15. Tax exempt local plates
  16. Tax exempt state plates

Standard plates

In case you don’t request to receive other types of plates you will get a standard plate. It has a white-blue background, several blue letters, Minnesota’s emblem, and “10 000 lakes” at the bottom.

Specialty plates

Examples of specialty license plates are firefight, military veterans, ex-POW, medal of honor, national guard, or critical habitat license plates, etc. These plates have a unique design. The plate costs $10 and registration – another $10. Moreover, yearly donations start from $35.

Disability plates

Those who have permanent, temporary, short-term, or long-term disabilities can get a placard or a disability license plate. It allows them to park in special parking spots designated for disabled people.

Personalized plates

Personalized license plates contain up to seven characters out of which at least one is a letter and the others are numbers. However, no inappropriate suggestion is acceptable. Unlike that, motorcycles must have a maximum of 6 characters. You should pay $100 for the application and $11 for filing.

The DMV may reject specific license plates for one or more reasons, check out our Minnesota banned license plates page for more details.

Renewing Minnesota license plate

Note that Minnesota vehicle registrations are expiring each year. That means that you should renew it every single year. However, there are states like Missouri where this period is shorter.

Usually, DVS sends you a reminder with the expiration date. That notice will also contain the fee you should pay. The costs for registration are different for various vehicles. After the reminder, you can renew the plate.

There are three options for renewing the tags.

Minnesota license plate lookup : Renewing in person

For renewing your plates you need to visit Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) Deputy Registrar Office. You should present the following documents:

  • Renewal reminder and/or the present registration of the car
  • Proof of vehicle insurance
  • Payment fee.

In person registration is a must when you are also changing your name. In addition, you should provide the office with the following documents in case of name change:

  • A marriage certificate
  • A divorce decree and/or other court order that specifies your name change.

Make sure to modify your driver license as well in case you change your address or name. For that, you have 30 days.

However, there are registration exemptions. Motor vehicles belonging to personnel on active duty are usually exempt from any tax. But those conditions need to be met for the exemption.

  • First, the vehicle needs to be registered in Minnesota but located outside the country or state.
  • Second, the vehicle should belong to a person on active duty or maximum in up to his/her 90 days of service.
  • Third, the applicant needs to present a military order and/or a letter from the commander that would confirm the applicant was on active duty.
  • Finally, the owner can’t operate the vehicle on the main highways in Minnesota except during the leave.

Remember that registration exemption can be completed only in person.

Renewing by mail

To renew your plate by mail you should follow these instructions.

  • First of all, make sure your renewal month, name, and address are correct on the renewal notice sent by DVS.
  • While you can update the address, a name change is possible only in person. Update the address if you need to.
  • Pay the fee.
  • You can use the envelope attached with the renewal notice. Send the renewal form along with your payment to

DVS Renewal,
P.O. Box 64587,
St. Paul,
MN 55164-0587.

The DVS will process your renewal within 10 days. Alternatively, it will need additional days if you do a name change as well.

Renewing online

Renewing online seems easier. Just go to the DVS website and enter the plate number. You will also need the last three digits of the vehicle identification number. Then you must verify the info is correct. After that, you need to make the payment.

Replacing Minnesota license plates

There are cases when license plates, registration certificates, or stickers are stolen, mutilated, lost, or damaged. In that case, you should replace them. For that, you should just visit the DVS and apply for a new one. Those duplicates cost $11.

Surrendering license plates in Minnesota

Usually, surrendering license plates is done for two reasons. Firstly, you can surrender your plates if you want to have a new plate type or design. Secondly, you may surrender your plates when you want to request a refund. In general, it is plausible to apply for a registration refund when you sell your car before the expiration date.

By the way, you don’t have to surrender your plates when you move to another state.

Transferring license plates in Minnesota

Generally, you cannot transfer standard license plates in this state. You can only transfer special and personalized license plates to a new car. For that, you should:

  • be the registered owner of the auto
  • submit an application
  • register your new car
  • pay the fee.

The fee for the transfer varies by plate.

Minnesota license plate lookup : Costs

Since 1st of August, 2021 Minnesota DVS has increased the plate costs. You can contact the DVS office to calculate the payment amount. Fees vary depending on vehicle or plate type, and year.

To mention a few, the title costs $8.25. Transfer Tax is $10. The filing fee for the application is $11 and the renewal is $7. In short, refer to the DVS website for more information.

Marine K

Marine K

Marine is an IT project manager and content writer. She has a degree in Management from YSEU. Currently she writes user friendly content for various business websites.