The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is the identifying code for a specific automobile. A VIN is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN displays the car's unique features, specifications, and manufacturer. Prior to 1981, VINs varied in length from 11 to 17 characters.
The Hull Identification Number (HIN) is a 12 or 14 character serial number that uniquely identifies a motorboat or vessel.
VIN verification is not required if a title will not be issued. See title requirements for vehicles or off-road vehicles for more detail on title requirements.
When Verification is Required
- Vehicles with Salvage Documentation.
- Vehicles that are being titled under bond.
- Vehicles with registrations from any foreign country, including Canada.
- Vehicles over 15 years old, for which a Vermont resident is seeking an "exempt title."
For all VIN verifications involving U.S. Servicemen or Vermont residents, in which a physical examination of the vehicle cannot be completed by the agencies or persons listed above, the Chief Inspector's office may authorize the VIN verification to be performed by other agencies or persons acceptable to the Chief Inspector's office.
Vehicles with discrepancies in the documentation or which do not conform to established standards may be required to have a VIN verification performed under terms and conditions as prescribed by and at the discretion of the Vermont DMV Chief Inspector's office.
VIN Verifications in Vermont
VIN verifications conducted in Vermont are to be completed by a Vermont law enforcement officer, personnel employed by a law enforcement unit who, for this purpose, are under the direct supervision of a law enforcement officer, or DMV employees designated by the Vermont Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.
VIN Verifications Out-of-State
VIN verifications completed out of state are to be examined by motor vehicle officials, state-level law enforcement officials, or by personnel authorized by that state to perform VIN verifications. Military personnel may have the VIN verification completed by the Commanding Officer or Provost Marshal of the military base. VIN verifications performed out-of-state must be accompanied by a letter of identification of the agent on their department or agency's official letterhead and are subject to approval by the Vermont Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) VIN Decoder
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website offers two free VIN check tools that allow you to either decode your VIN or check for a recall.
The first group of three numbers and letters in a VIN make up the world manufacturer identifier (WMI).
For example, cars made in the U.S. start with 1, 4 or 5. Canada is 2, and Mexico is 3. Japan is J.
The next six digits are the vehicle descriptor section.
These numbers describe the car and include the model, body type, transmission type, engine code, etc.
The next eight characters are the vehicle identifier section.
This includes the model year and where the vehicle was assembled.
The final six digits indicate the sequence number of the vehicle.