Determine vehicle owner: who receives information from the vehicle register and when?

How authorities and lawyers proceed when determining the holder

Determine vehicle owner: who receives information from the vehicle register and when?

Traffic regulations violations, fuel theft, claims for damages after an accident, long-term parkers: There are many reasons why authorities, lawyers and private individuals want to determine a particular car owner.

It is generally not free to determine the owner of a motor vehicle. There is always a small fee for information from the central registers.

But how exactly can authorised persons find the vehicle owner? Who is actually authorized to do this? And what information is required to determine the holder?

When is the vehicle owner determination used?

The keeper detection is most often carried out on motor vehicles that were involved in an administrative offence as part of traffic monitoring. In Germany, driver liability always applies to administrative offences in flowing traffic.

Nevertheless, the fine authorities initially assume that the driver depicted on a speed camera photo is also the keeper – or at least the latter must know who the driver was at the time of the crime.

After knowing the data from the owner of an affected vehicle, the fine authorities can determine whether the owner and driver could be the same person.

This could be excluded, for example, if the keeper is a man but a woman was behind the wheel at the time of the crime or if there was a large difference in age. In these cases, the car owner would receive a witness questionnaire. In this, the authorities request information about who was using the vehicle at the relevant time.

If the vehicle owner whom you were able to identify was also the driver at the same time because age, gender and possibly also the comparison with other images suggests this, the owner would then receive a questionnaire. He can then comment on the alleged crime. Finally, the holder of the fine notice will be sent.

But there are other areas in which the vehicle owner is also indispensable for third parties:

Who is the vehicle owner? An investigation into fuel fraud

Who is the vehicle owner? Investigation into fuel fraud
With the rising petrol and diesel prices, a worrying trend has developed in the individual federal states: refuelling without paying.

According to the police crime statistics (2016 edition, version 2.0), a total of 71,516 cases of tank fraud were reported in 2016. Not even half of the cases were finally cleared up.

Although the number of fraud cases at the petrol pumps is decreasing and video surveillance is constantly being expanded, tank fraudsters still cause millions of dollars in damage every year. However, the police may be able to identify the car owner through the video recordings.

However, this does not automatically have to be accused. However, the determination of the holder for the vehicle concerned can significantly favour the determination of the bank fraud. Also, the cheated tenant of the petrol station can use the information to find a fraudster and raise claims for damages.

Entry or private parking blocked? Determine car owner

Determining the vehicle owner can also make sense if the entry to a property or a private parking space is blocked permanently or regularly by another vehicle.

In this case, those affected, the regulatory office and towing services can determine the owner of the vehicle and bill him for the costs incurred, punish the administrative offence and, if necessary, also raise claims for damages.

Read More: What are Seasonal License Plates?

But also in other cases, the keeper determination helps the towing services to assert claims for reimbursement of costs. If they have to tow or transfer an illegally parked vehicle, the costs are regularly imposed on the keeper.

Determine the owner of a motor vehicle after escape

The unauthorised removal of the accident is punishable. According to Section 142 of the Criminal Code, a person involved in an accident who commits to driving away can be fined or imprisoned for up to three years.

Both the police and the victim can determine the vehicle owner with sufficient data about the fugitive. This is then written to and asked about the allegation.

In connection with testimony, it can ultimately be checked who was behind the wheel at the time of the crime. Criminal proceedings can then be initiated against the accused driver. The injured party can assert civil rights claims against the driver – especially damages and compensation for pain and suffering.

In all cases, the easiest way to determine the holder using a license plate. The police can also determine the vehicle owner using striking vehicle details such as car brand, colour and model as part of an in-depth investigation.

Use the license plate to determine the holder of the vehicle

Determine the keeper: The easiest way to find out is the license plate number.


In principle, the license plate not only provides information about the registration of a car but above all also enables it to be assigned to its owner.

So it can be determined solely by knowing the license plate of the holder.

This is because they are kept at the respective vehicle registration offices together with information on the license plate, vehicle and insurance data in complex directories.

If there is an administrative offence, the criminal offence or an accident, the respective vehicle owner can easily be determined by requesting a license holder from the responsible body to identify the car in question. Alternatively, the vehicle identification number can also be used for this.

Third parties who want to make legal claims using the data can alternatively also receive corresponding information by providing sufficient information about the vehicle data or personal data.

As a rule, the local vehicle registration office is responsible, which stores all vehicles registered in the respective area together with the owner data.
If you got into an accident with a vehicle with a Munich license plate in Berlin, for example, the registration office in Munich is the right contact if you want to determine the holder using a license plate number.
However, you can also request a nationwide keeper query from the Federal Motor Transport Authority.

Holder determination online: enter license plate and go?

Authorities and offices are making more and more areas available for online use. In many federal states such as Berlin, it is now also possible to determine the vehicle owner via an online request. However, there are one or two buts that you should take into account in any case:

  1. After entering the relevant license plate number, the holder is not determined immediately. Initially, it is always only a corresponding application, which the admissions office then examines. If approved, you will then be sent corresponding information in writing.
  2. As part of the application, you must provide a valid reason that entitles you to query the keeper – you will receive comprehensive information on this later.
  3. If you want to identify the vehicle owner using an existing license plate, there are always costs for a corresponding application. According to the schedule of fees for measures in road traffic (GebOSt), a fee of 5.10 euros always applies for the written information (number 141.3 of the Appendix to the GebOSt).
However, most admissions offices do not offer online inquiries. Here you have to request the information in writing – by letter or fax – from the responsible body. The application can be made informally. The fees charged remain the same.

Can we also determine the vehicle owner free of charge?

With a corresponding search query, search engines will regularly show you extensive offers from supposedly reputable providers, via which the holder can be determined easily and, above all, free of charge using a license plate. On closer inspection, however, all of them simply turn out to be attractive offers.

Most of the providers want to market a modified product (such as the driver rating or flirt portals based solely on license plate data), while others sometimes end up with higher hidden costs.

The problem: Even private companies have to contact the responsible vehicle registration authorities in order to determine the respective holder by means of the license plate transmitted.

You do not have appropriate directories yourself. This would violate applicable data protection law. To a certain extent, the providers only interpose another service and only take the written application off the client.

The request for information from a vehicle registration office is bound to the GebOSt. This means that there is never more than the fees currently set at EUR 5.10. If a provider requests more from you, you should refrain from their offer and prefer to contact the responsible body yourself.