Use a Car Registration to Trace the Owner of a Vehicle

Published: 19th August 2010
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There are generally two reasons why someone may want to trace the owner of a vehicle. The first reason relates to the actual registration number. An individual would like to be reunited with the registration mark of the first car or motorbike they ever owned.

Can you remember the registration mark of the first car or motorbike you owned?

A registration number could have a personal meaning to an individual or a member of their family. Colin Smith sees a car drive past him with the personalised number plate 27 CS. He in eager to get in touch with the owner of the car registered as 27 CS to ask if the owner is interested in selling the personalised registration.

If your reason for contacting the owner of a vehicle is primarily to ask if they would like to part with their personalised registration plate, then it is bad news. This would not be viewed as important enough for the DVLA to release information to you. There are however some situations when information about a vehicle or the owner may be released. The decision comes down to whether you can show ‘reasonable cause’ to require the requested information.

Information about vehicles and their keepers in Great Britain is held by the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) at their headquarters in Swansea. This information is protected by the Data Protection Act.

So in what situation could you have ‘reasonable cause’ to request information from the DVLA?

What if you were hit by a vehicle and the driver failed to stop? What if the driver of the vehicle did stop but gave you false information?

Both of these situations may suggest you have ‘reasonable cause’ to obtain otherwise protected information for the purpose of tracing the owner of the vehicle that hit you. You would need to have the correct registration number for the vehicle you wanted to trace in order to correctly start the process.

Another example could be if you were the victim of a crime which the police did not want to investigate. Some fraud or deception cases are not considered to be important enough to investigate, especially when the crime only occurred because of the victim’s own naivety. If you happened to find out the registration number of the fraudster’s car you could attempt to get hold of the vehicle keeper information from the DVLA.

If having read this guide you feel you may have a genuine reason to request information about a vehicle, the correct procedure is to complete DVLA form V888 – Request by an individual for information about a vehicle.

DVLA Form V888 is available for download from the official website of the DVLA. Just search one of the major search engines for the phrase ‘DVLA form V888’.

Just remember, you are not supposed to use this form to trace the owner of your ideal personalised registration plate. That would surely not be classed as ‘reasonable cause’ to release such sensitive data into the public domain.

Resource Box

Lots of useful information for the UK motorist with an interest in personalised number plates at

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