Vehicle identification number (VIN)

Vehicle identification number (VIN) is your car's equivalent of our DNA. The VIN is a unique code that stays with the car for its lifetime

Vehicle identification number (VIN) is your car’s equivalent of our DNA. The VIN is a unique code that stays with the vehicle for its lifetime

What is a vehicle identification number VIN?

Every car has a unique vehicle identification number (VIN) the car’s identity code, sometimes known as the chassis check number.

A VIN contains 17 characters (digits and capital letters) giving a car its identification.

The VIN acts as the car’s fingerprint. No two vehicles have the same vehicle identification number.

VIN Decode explained

The DVLA VIN shows the car’s features and specifications as well as the country of manufacture. Cars built in the UK contain SA-SM in the VIN.

Vehicle identification number (VIN) for cars explained

How to find your car’s VIN

Here is where to check the VIN on your vehicle:

  • On the door frame/door post of the drivers front door.
  • On the dash near the windscreen.
  • On the engine (machined pad on the front of the engine).
  • In the left-hand inner wheel arch.
  • On the steering wheel/steering column.
  • On the radiator support bracket.
  • On car’s V5C vehicle registration certificate.

The VIN helps detect car theft

The vehicle identification number serves to track car registrations, warranty claims, and car crime, as well as the manufacturer, recalls.

VIN check when you buy a car

When you buy a car, the VIN is one of the things that you must check to ensure you are not buying a stolen car.

What else must you check before you purchase a car:

  • Outstanding finance
  • Stolen vehicles
  • Written-off
  • Inspection report
  • Mileage problems
  • Vehicle identity
  • Stolen V5C document
  • Plate transfer
  • Number plate and VIN chassis number match
  • CO2 rating
  • Valuation

Buying a car

Other Young Car Driver information – buying a car

Buying a car privately


A car will be less buying private but so will your legal rights...

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Checking a car’s history

car history

Is the car to good to be true? Check the history!...

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V5C Vehicle Registration Certificate (Logbook)

V5C Vehicle Registration Certificate (Logbook) displays the registered keeper of the car.

Don't even think about buying a car without a valid V5C...

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MOT Check (MOT certificate)

MOT check. Is the MOT certificate genuine?

Over 3 years old the car needs a valid MOT? You must see it!...

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