vehicle identification number

What’s a Vehicle Identification Number?

What’s Your Number?

Most people don’t realise that since the dawn of mass production, virtually every vehicle has had some form of a unique identifier stamped onto its body.

These numbers helped manufacturers to link production to orders but numbering conventions varied by manufacturer.

VINs were first used in 1954. From 1954 to 1981, there was no accepted standard for these numbers, so different manufacturers used different formats.

In 1981 a global policy was established that largely combined various methodologies into a standard 17 digit alpha numeric sequence by International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

ISO 3779 specifies the content and structure of a vehicle identification number (VIN) to establish, on a world-wide basis, the uniform identification numbering system for road vehicles. This standard applies to motor vehicles, towed vehicles, motorcycles and mopeds.


World Manufacturer Identifier

The first three positions of the VIN make up the World Manufacturer Identifier or the WMI. These three positions reflect the manufacturer and the country of manufacture.

Where to Find Your VIN

Most passenger vehicles display a ‘visible VIN’ on the bottom of the windscreen but all vehicles have a VIN somewhere.

The most common locations are listed below:

  1. Dash by windshield
  2. Driver’s door or post
  3. Firewall of the vehicle
  4. Left-hand inner wheel arch
  5. Steering column
  6. Component parts

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