Everything you need to know about VIN verifications & VIN Verifiers

Table of Contents
What is a VIN verification?
  • A VIN Verification is a physical inspection of your vehicle (the vehicle must be present) that is required by California’s DMV for vehicles coming from out of state, or vehicles who are no longer in the DMV’s database. In addition to the VIN, we document things like, number of wheels, fuel type, vehicle configuration (BTM). Here’s the full list of things that are documented on a VIN verification form:
  • License plate number
  • State the vehicle is licensed in
  • Number of axles
  • Fuel Type
  • BTM (vehicle’s configuration)
  • Model year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Number of wheels
  • Estimated weight of trailers
  • VIN location
  • Indicator if the US Federal Certification Label
  • Odometer
  • Comparison of the VIN to the supporting documents
  • Emissions label
  • When and where the inspection was done

Watch this video to see what our eyes see when we do one:

Why do I need to have a VIN verification done?
  • Vehicles coming in from other states or countries – example, you’re moving from Vermont to California. This includes brand new vehicles that were purchased from a dealer or from a manufacturer.
  • Body type model changes – example, your dump truck is now a flat bed vehicle, this change in configuration will require you report the change to the California DMV and will require you to do a VIN verification. Some insurance carriers will force you to change the BTM to reflect the actual vehicle type, example: 2020 Lincoln Navigator is listed as a “UT” (utility vehicle) but your insurance carrier is covering you as a limousine company, you will change the BTM to “LM” to become insurable for your carrier.
  • Vehicles that have a VLT stop from the California DMV lien sale unit – the VIN verification process is used confirm that someone has physical possession of the vehicle.
  • Vehicles that are on the IRP program uses the VIN verification process to verify the mileage.
  • Old vehicles that have fallen off of the DMV system need to be inspected and reintroduced into the DMV system.
  • Corrections of a VIN – if the VIN on your title and the VIN on your car do NOT match the VIN verification process is the way to fix this problem.
  • Corrections of odometers – if your odometer was incorrectly reported, a VIN verifier is going to be someone you will need to visit to start the process to getting this fixed.
  • Correction of the year – if the year on your title is NOT the correct one, guess what, a VIN verification is how you fix that.
  • Corrections in general – at times, someone who originally keyed in the vehicle information may have keyed in the wrong information, such as incorrect number of axles, or incorrect fuel type, or other minor things
  • Converting a vehicle from automobile to commercial, or vice versa, or in other cases, making a vehicle an off highway vehicle to on-highway.
The VIN number on my car does not match my title:

If there is a mismatch between your car’s VIN and the VIN on your title the California DMV has a solution for that. The process is very simple:

  • Have a VIN verification done by a licensed VIN verifier, CHP officer, DMV employee or AAA.
  • Sign the bottom of the form [read the fine print – the very bottom signature is for this specific scenario]
  • Bring the erroneous title along with the VIN verification into the DMV, and the DMV will correct the VIN, and a new title will be issued.

It is very important to be mindful that in the case where the VIN number that is on your car already has a record, this will obviously open up a can of worms into another problem you may have. This is possible scenario, but not likely.

My car had a lien done on it, now I need a VIN verification, why?

If your car was a tow yard at some point it’s very possible that a lien sale was done on it. If this happens, depending on the situation, you may have what is called a “VLT stop” placed on it by the California DMV’s lien sale unit. The reason they do this is because in some situations, to prevent fraud, they place this “VLT stop” – a VLT stop is basically a hold on the vehicle’s registration or titling – no one can do anything until that VLT stop is lifted. To remove the VLT stop, the lien sale unit requires that you do a VIN verification on the vehicle to establish that you have possession – because you cannot do a VIN verification you do not have possession of.

The year or make, or something else, is wrong with my title

When it comes to title corrections the way it’s done is simple: get a VIN verification. However, there are some situations in which a correction has to be substantiated. If your vehicle has a 17 digit VIN and can easily be decoded you will not have any issues with this. However, there are some late model vehicles that require supporting documentation to substantiate the correction.

Funky VIN verification stuff (my subjective opinion):
  • A huge crane, with 5 axles, can be listed as an “automobile” and will not have to pay weight fees (there are specific characteristics of the crane that have to be met to fit this criteria).

  • A pick-up truck (PK) with no camper shell pays weight fees and is registered as a commercial unit, but put a camper shell on it and it is now a (PM) and is now an automobile and pays no weight fees.

  • VIN verifiers cannot do VIN verifications on armored vehicles, only the CHP can.

  • You cannot perform a VIN verification your own vehicle

  • Some BTMs can be used for either or automobile or commercial

  • There is a BTM for nearly any vehicle out there, however, for those that don’t have a category, the BTM “VA” or “VARIED” is used.

  • By far, the most pain in the butt VIN verifies to do are the ones for CCHPT (coach trailer park models) – these can be the biggest pains in the butt!

I changed my vehicle’s configuration [BTM change]

There are situations in which a vehicle’s configuration is a certain way, and then later on, something is added or removed that changes its configuration. In those cases, what needs to happen is that a VIN verification needs to be done to change the BTM. An example of this would be buying a flatbed truck that is turned into a utility truck; or, a coach trailer has been gutted and had the dwelling portion removed, and it is now a flatbed trailer. You will need the following to make this correction:

  • The VIN verification form [REG31]
  • The title
  • The statement of facts for [REG256] specifying the change of BTM [from old BTM to new  BTM] and section G stating whether or not the weight has changed.
I was referred to the CHP for my VIN verification

Click here for more information

I’m out of state, far away, but I need a VIN verification, how do I get it done?

There is nothing in the VIN verification handbook that states that we cannot travel far distances, even in other states, to conduct the VIN verification. We have driven as far as Nevada and Arizona to meet clients to get their VIN verifications done. I will tell you, the customer paid a lot of money for the inspection, but it got done. If you do not want to pay these fees, you can have member of law enforcement do the VIN verification. I do want to note, there are certain VIN verifications that can ONLY be conducted by the CHP and that cannot be done by anyone else. So, if you find a cooperative member of law enforcement, they will be able to fill out the form for you.

VIN Verifier information:

How do you become a VIN verifier:

  • Submit Application for a Vehicle Verifier’s Permit (OL 19) form
  • Purchased a vehicle verifier surety bond(you can buy this from me) (OL 26)
  • Submit application for occupational license personal history questionnaire (OL 29I)
  • Get live scanned fingerprinted and submit form Request for Live Scan Service (DMV 8016)
  • Submit a $51 non-refundable application fee and a $1 family support program fee
  • Submit application by mail to the following address:
    • Department of Motor Vehicles
      Occupational Licensing
      Individuals Unit
      PO Box 932342 L224
      Sacramento, CA 94232-3420
  • More information directly from the DMV’s website: Vehicle Verifier License
  • Do you want to work for me? email me your resume to resumes@quickautotags.com
  • To learn more about the wonderful world of becoming a VIN verifier and what we do – Check out my VIN Verifier Beginner’s Guide
How much money does a VIN verifier make:

VIN verifiers, are much like notaries, in that they make their money in different ways, depending on the clientele they chose to service. Each decision you make has its benefits and its drawbacks in terms of earnings. The earnings will vary depending on how much marketing you do, your willingness to travel far and the frequency and efficiency you do them. My estimates are based on real time, realistic expectations for a 1 person operation to make the money. Below I’ll list what potential clientele setup you can have. One can have one type, or a variety of them:

  • Traveling / Mobile VIN verifiers – Estimated earnings $35,000 – $65,000:
    • Benefit: By far, this is the best way to maximize your earning potential, because you can charge for the VIN verification and a travel fee. Another benefit is you can travel and see new clients every day, exposing you to different cities, unique vehicles, different scenery, unique scenarios and the marketing of your other services (if you are a registration service) is a great benefit when you can meet your client in person and sell them on your other services.
    • Drawback: You can end up driving in a lot of traffic, which in itself is a waste of time and money. You may also end up driving very far just to find out that you cannot help the customer. Although you have more earning potential, you will spend money on gas, and put miles on your company vehicle. In addition, if you are mobile, you have to market your services, either online or in other ways – more money to spend.
  • Non-mobile VIN verifier $14,000 – $25,000:
    • Benefit: This method, in my opinion, is the way you can make the least amount. You don’t have to travel – the customer comes to you – there is predictability in your schedule because you set the times when your customer comes to do a VIN verification. Furthermore, there are no surprises, you find out right away whether you can do the job or not. And finally, there’s no wear and tear on your car or any fuel costs.
    • Drawback: Your earning potential is less because customers in need of a mobile VIN verifier cannot be serviced. Also, it’s boring, you stay in the same place, all the time.
  • Fixed clients $45,000:
    • Benefit: You see the same customers, every week, at the same place, at the same time. There is predictability in your schedule, and, you get to charge a travel fee. 
    • Drawback: Other money making opportunities will take a backseat to your fixed appointments. Also, your client may experience a slow down in how many vehicles they have for you, this fluctuation kills your money making opportunities you were not able to fill in that empty time in your appointment schedule. In addition, you will most likely have a fixed price.
Tips for new VIN verifiers:
  • Use a fuel-efficient vehicle to maximize your profits – you don’t want to lose all your profits in fuel.
  • When you’re writing out a VIN verification write them out with perfection – no errors are allowed – DO NOT BE LAZY – when in doubt – rewrite it. Write them with the attitude that another expert with a hawk eye is going to review it. Never allow a customer to walk away with a form with an error.
  • Invest in a good telephone and in good telephone service – there is nothing worse than having no internet when you’re trying to look something up and your telephone provider failing you.
  • Invest in good pens & clipboard – these are the tools of the trade – don’t be cheap
  • Try to network with other VIN verifiers – other verifiers may service areas you don’t, and vice versa,  you may service areas they don’t – by having this open exchange of leads you open yourself up to money making opportunities in your area & doing jobs that are more efficient for you to do.
  • Never be influenced by anyone to commit fraud or do anything you’re not supposed to. If you are ever asked to do something, tell them it would cost them $400,000 for you to do that, because that’s how much potential earnings you can lose by doing so.
  • MOST IMPORTANT TIP FOR MOBILE VIN VERIFIERS: Thoroughly screen your clients before you schedule an appointment and go to them. The back of the VIN verification form, the REG 31, details which verifications are allowed to be done by private VIN verifiers. Avoid wasting time and gas by screening your customer before you go out there. This is by far the biggest mistake you can avoid.
Vehicle Verifier Licensing Authority:
  • California Vehicle Code (CVC) §§675.5, 675.6, and 11300-11310. The CVC is available for purchase from DMV.
  • California Code of Regulations Title 13, Chapter 1.
  • Government Code §6157 (a) – (d).

Contact us with your questions.

We can verify your car, truck, trailer, or motorcycle and we can also help you register or transfer your vehicle into your name.