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Searching for a vehicle by license plate isn’t common, but it can be done. Most often, VIN is the preferred choice when trying to search vehicle history, service history and other associated details. Scenarios where the VIN isn’t available such as when buying a vehicle from a private party or finding information about an abandoned vehicle, might necessitate conducting a license plate search in New Mexico.

A license plate search can yield information about vehicle specs, history, title records, and accident history and if you have permissible reasons, you can also request for ownership record. In this guide, we’ll share different ways to search a tag in the “Land of Enchantment” state and what data you can expect from the search.

Ways to Search a New Mexico License Plate

You can search for a license plate of a New Mexico registered vehicle in two ways. One is the MVD and the other is using third-party lookup services. There is also a third option, but that involves hiring a PI (Private Investigator), which will cost you a significant sum.

1) New Mexico MVD (Motor Vehicle Division)

The MVD is responsible for registering and titling vehicles in New Mexico. It also issues license plates to vehicle owners. As such, the MVD has records of all the plates registered in the state, but the records aren’t made public for privacy reasons.

The New Mexico Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) governs the release of personal information collected by the MVD. The records can only be accessed by vehicle owners, insurance companies, towing companies or governmental agencies with a permissible purpose. You can read more about who and for what purposes the data can be made available here.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, fill out the DPPA form and mail it to the following address:

NIC New Mexico,
Attention Office Manager 4001 Office Court Dr.,
Suite 704 Santa Fe,
NM 87507

2) Third-party services

Third-party lookup services allow you to search for a plate online with just a few clicks of button. These services rely on public records and proprietary data sources to find the plate information, but often, they just have technical data related to the vehicle. You can expect to find in-depth vehicle history, service history, recall history and more. Some services may also yield ownership details but require a DPPA-compliant request.

At LookupAPlate.com, you can search for a New Mexico registered plate for free and view technical vehicle information. If you’re buying a used car, you can request a more comprehensive report from our partner website that includes accident history, whether the car was stolen or not, and much more.

How to identify a New Mexico license plate?

Before running the license plate number, it is important to identify the state in which the vehicle is registered. In most cases, the design and wording on the plate give a good hint.

The New Mexico motor vehicle division issues three standard plates: Standard Centennial License Plate, Standard Red and Yellow License Plate and Chile Plate.

Of the three, the standard red and yellow plate is more popular and the design is something you’re likely to see on the road.

Centennial License Plate: The background of the plate is turquoise in color, with yellow letters and a yellow border. The top of the plate features the text “CENTENNIAL 1912-2012” in white. The bottom of the plate reads “NEW MEXICO” in white, below which the text “LAND OF ENCHANTMENT” is printed.

Standard Red and Yellow License Plate: The plate comes in a yellow and red color combination with yucca graphics and a Zia sun symbol separator at the center. The state name “NEW MEXICO USA” appears below the registered number and further down “LAND OF ENCHANTMENT” is printed in small letters.

Chile Plate: The Chile plate has black backing with a yellow border. On the center-left, there is a graphic of red and green peppers. The top of the plate reads “CHILE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD” while the bottom has the state name “NEW MEXICO USA” printed in red. Further below, “LAND OF ENCHANTMENT” is printed in small letters.

New Mexico License Plate Types:

New Mexico License Plate Sample

The Motor Vehicle Division of New Mexico (MVD) offers a variety of license plates to choose from. Some are available for an additional fee, while others can be personalized. Some specialty plates may have their own eligibility criteria.

Standard Plates: These are the general issue plates allotted to anyone who doesn’t opt for custom design.

Personalized Plates: Also known as vanity plates, these can be ordered with a custom combination of letters and numbers.

Special Plates: These are available to members of the military, certain organizations, colleges or causes.

1) Collegiate Plates

  • Eastern New Mexico University
  • University of New Mexico
  • New Mexico Military Institute
  • New Mexico Highlands University
  • New Mexico State University
  • New Mexico Tech
  • Western New Mexico University
  • Northern New Mexico College
  • Central New Mexico Community College
  • New Mexico Junior College

2) Handicapped Plates

3) Historical Plates and Vintage Plates

4) Military and Veterans

5) Organizations and Causes

  • Amateur Radio Operator
  • Autism Awareness
  • Patriot License Plate
  • Wildlife Artwork
  • Bass Fishing
  • Boy Scouts Centennial

6) Police, Firefighters and EMT Plates

  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)
  • Fraternal Order of Police
  • Retired Firefighters
  • Retired NM State Police
  • Retired Law Enforcement
  • Firefighters and Volunteer Firefighters

7) Professional Plates

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)
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