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What is the VIN?
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Understanding the VIN
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Understanding the VIN
VINs, also known as vehicle identification numbers are alphanumeric codes that uniquely identify every different individual motor vehicle. The VIN can be found both the vehicle itself, and on many documents associated with the vehicle such as registration documents, insurance documents, etc.
VINs were first introduced in 1954, and for many years there was no common format used by all manufacturers of vehicles. Different manufacturers encoded different information in their VINs, and the length of the VIN varied between 11 and 17 characters depending on the manufacturer.
However, since 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States has mandated a standard 17 character format (now known as "FMVSS 115, Part 565"), which is now used for all vehicles in the United States and Canada. (Please note however that other countries use slightly different 17 character formats for their VINs).
VINs consist of a combination of 17 characters, and may include both numeric digits and letters. However the letters I, O, and Q are not used, since these could easily be mistaken for the digits 1 or 0. Additionally, certain additional characters can appear in some positions (example: the 10th character can be U or Z).
Here is how the VINs are encoded are according to the North American standard, FMVSS 115, Part 565:
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