A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique code, including a serial number, used by the automotive industry to identify individual motor vehicles, towed vehicles, motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, as defined in ISO 3779:2009.

VINs were first used in 1954 in the United States.[1] From 1954 to 1981, there was no accepted standard for these numbers, so different manufacturers used different formats.

In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States standardized the format.[1] It required all on-road vehicles sold to contain a 17-character VIN, which does not include the letters I (i), O (o), and Q (q) (to avoid confusion with numerals 1 and 0).

There are vehicle history services in several countries that help potential car owners use VINs to find vehicles that are defective or have been written off. See the Used car article for a list of countries where this service is available.


There are at least four competing standards used to calculate the VIN.

  • FMVSS 115, Part 565: Used in United States and Canada[2]
  • ISO Standard 3779: Used in Europe and many other parts of the world
  • SAE J853: Very similar to the ISO standard
  • ADR 61/2 used in Australia, referring to ISO 3779 and 3780[3]


Modern VINs are based on two related standards, originally issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1979 and 1980: ISO 3779[4] and ISO 3780,[5] respectively. Compatible but different implementations of these ISO standards have been adopted by the European Union and the United States, respectively.[6]

The VIN comprises the following sections:

Standard 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
ISO 3779 World manufacturer identifier VDS VIS
European Union[7]

more than 500 vehicles/year

World manufacturer identifier Indication of "the general characteristics of the vehicle" Indication that provides "clear identification of a particular vehicle"
European Union[7]

500 or fewer vehicles/year

World manufacturer identifier 9 Indication of "the general characteristics of the vehicle" Indication that provides "clear identification of a particular vehicle"
North America

more than 2000 vehicles/year

World manufacturer identifier Vehicle attributes Check digit Model year Plant code Sequential number
North America

2000 or fewer vehicles/year

World manufacturer identifier 9 Vehicle attributes Check digit Model year Plant code Manufacturer identifier Sequential number
VIN in a GM-T-Platform body next to a passenger seat

World manufacturer identifier

The first three characters uniquely identify the manufacturer of the vehicle using the world manufacturer identifier or WMI code. A manufacturer who builds fewer than 1000 vehicles per year uses a 9 as the third digit, and the 12th, 13th and 14th position of the VIN for a second part of the identification. Some manufacturers use the third character as a code for a vehicle category (e.g., bus or truck), a division within a manufacturer, or both. For example, within 1G (assigned to General Motors in the United States), 1G1 represents Chevrolet passenger cars; 1G2, Pontiac passenger cars; and 1GC, Chevrolet trucks.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in the U.S. assigns WMIs to countries and manufacturers.[8]

The first character of the WMI is the region in which the manufacturer is located. In practice, each is assigned to a country of manufacture, although in Europe the country where the continental headquarters is located can assign the WMI to all vehicles produced in that region (Example: Opel/Vauxhall cars whether produced in Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom or Poland carry a WMI of W0L because Adam Opel AG is based in Rüsselsheim, Germany).

In the notation below, assume that letters precede numbers and that zero is the last number. For example, 8X–82 denotes the range 8X, 8Y, 8Z, 81, 82, excluding 80. [8]

Country codes

A–H = Africa J–R = Asia S–Z = Europe 1–5 = North America 6–7 = Oceania 8–9 = South America

AA-AH South Africa
AJ-AN Ivory Coast
AP-A0 not assigned
BA-BE Angola
BF-BK Kenya
BL-BR Tanzania
BS-B0 not assigned
CA-CE Benin
CF-CK Madagascar
CL-CR Tunisia
CS-C0 not assigned
DA-DE Egypt
DF-DK Morocco
DL-DR Zambia
DS-D0 not assigned
EA-EE Ethiopia
EF-EK Mozambique
EL-E0 not assigned
FA-FE Ghana
FF-FK Nigeria
FL-F0 not assigned
GA-G0 not assigned
HA-H0 not assigned

JA-J0 Japan
KA-KE Sri Lanka
KF-KK Israel
KL-KR Korea (South)
KS-K0 Kazakhstan
LA-L0 China
MA-ME India
MF-MK Indonesia
ML-MR Thailand
MS-M0 Myanmar
MT-M0 not assigned
NA-NE Iran
NF-NK Pakistan
NL-NR Turkey
NS-N0 not assigned
PA-PE Philippines
PF-PK Singapore
PL-PR Malaysia
PS-P0 not assigned
RA-RE United Arab Emirates
RF-RK Taiwan
RL-RR Vietnam
RS-R0 Saudi Arabia

SA-SM United Kingdom
SN-ST East Germany
SU-SZ Poland
S1-S4 Latvia
S5-S0 not assigned
TA-TH Switzerland
TJ-TP Czech Republic
TR-TV Hungary
TW-T1 Portugal
T2-T0 not assigned
UA-UG not assigned
UH-UM Denmark
UN-UT Ireland
UU-UZ Romania
U1-U4 not assigned
U5-U7 Slovakia
U8-U0 not assigned
VA-VE Austria
VF-VR France
VS-VW Spain
VX-V2 Serbia
V3-V5 Croatia
V6-V0 Estonia
WA-W0 West Germany
XA-XE Bulgaria
XF-XK Greece
XL-XR Netherlands
XX-X2 Luxembourg
X3-X0 Russia
YA-YE Belgium
YF-YK Finland
YL-YR Malta
YS-YW Sweden
YX-Y2 Norway
Y3-Y5 Belarus
Y6-Y0 Ukraine
ZA-ZR Italy
ZS-ZW not assigned
ZX-Z2 Slovenia
Z3-Z5 Lithuania
Z6-Z0 not assigned

1A-10 United States
2A-20 Canada
3A-3W Mexico
3X-37 Costa Rica
38-39 Cayman Islands
4A-40 United States
5A-50 United States

6A-6W Australia
6X-60 not assigned
7A-7E New Zealand
7F-70 not assigned

8A-8E Argentina
8F-8K Chile
8L-8R Ecuador
8S-8W Peru
8X-82 Venezuela
83-80 not assigned
9A-9E Brazil
9F-9K Colombia
9L-9R Paraguay
9S-9W Uruguay
9X-92 Trinidad & Tobago
93–99 Brazil
90 not assigned

Vehicle descriptor section

The fourth to ninth positions in the VIN are the vehicle descriptor section or VDS. This is used, according to local regulations, to identify the vehicle type, and may include information on the automobile platform used, the model, and the body style. Each manufacturer has a unique system for using this field. Most manufacturers since the 1980s have used the eighth digit to identify the engine type whenever there is more than one engine choice for the vehicle. Example: for the 2007 Chevrolet Corvette, U is for a 6.0-liter V8 engine, and E is for a 7.0 L V8.

North American check digits

One element that is fairly consistent is the use of position nine as a check digit, compulsory for vehicles in North America, and used fairly consistently elsewhere.

Vehicle identifier section

The 10th to 17th positions are used as the 'vehicle identifier section' (VIS). This is used by the manufacturer to identify the individual vehicle in question. This may include information on options installed or engine and transmission choices, but often is a simple sequential number. In North America, the last five digits must be numeric.

Model year encoding

One consistent element of the VIS is the 10th digit, which is required worldwide to encode the model year of the vehicle. Besides the three letters that are not allowed in the VIN itself (I, O and Q), the letters U and Z and the digit 0 are not used for the model year code. The year code is the model year for the vehicle.

The year 1980 was encoded by some manufacturers, especially General Motors and Chrysler, as "A" (since the 17-digit VIN was not mandatory until 1981, and the "A" or zero was in the manufacturer's pre-1981 placement in the VIN), yet Ford and AMC still used a zero for 1980. Subsequent years increment through the allowed letters, so that "Y" represents the year 2000. 2001 to 2009 are encoded as the digits 1 to 9, and subsequent years are encoded as "A", "B", "C", etc.

Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year
A = 1980 L = 1990 Y = 2000 A = 2010 L = 2020 Y = 2030
B = 1981 M = 1991 1 = 2001 B = 2011 M = 2021 1 = 2031
C = 1982 N = 1992 2 = 2002 C = 2012 N = 2022 2 = 2032
D = 1983 P = 1993 3 = 2003 D = 2013 P = 2023 3 = 2033
E = 1984 R = 1994 4 = 2004 E = 2014 R = 2024 4 = 2034
F = 1985 S = 1995 5 = 2005 F = 2015 S = 2025 5 = 2035
G = 1986 T = 1996 6 = 2006 G = 2016 T = 2026 6 = 2036
H = 1987 V = 1997 7 = 2007 H = 2017 V = 2027 7 = 2037
J = 1988 W = 1998 8 = 2008 J = 2018 W = 2028 8 = 2038
K = 1989 X = 1999 9 = 2009 K = 2019 X = 2029 9 = 2039

On April 30, 2008, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopted a final rule amending 49 CFR Part 565, "so that the current 17 character vehicle identification number (VIN) system, which has been in place for almost 30 years, can continue in use for at least another 30 years", in the process making several changes to the VIN requirements applicable to all motor vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States. There are three notable changes to the VIN structure that affect VIN deciphering systems:

  • The make may only be identified after looking at positions one through three and another position, as determined by the manufacturer in the second section or fourth to eighth segment of the VIN.
  • In order to identify the exact year in passenger cars and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 or less, one must read position 7 as well as position 10. For passenger cars, and for multipurpose passenger vehicles and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) or less, if position seven is numeric, the model year in position 10 of the VIN refers to a year in the range 1980–2009.[citation needed] If position seven is alphabetic, the model year in position 10 of VIN refers to a year in the range 2010–2039.
  • The model year for vehicles with a GVWR greater than 10,000 lb (4,500 kg), as well as buses, motorcycles, trailers and low-speed vehicles, may no longer be identified within a 30-year range. VIN characters 1–8 and 10 that were assigned from 1980–2009 can be repeated beginning with the 2010 model year.

Plant code

Compulsory in North America is the use of the 11th character to identify the factory at which the vehicle was built. Each manufacturer has its own set of plant codes.

Production number

In the United States, the 12th to 17th digits are the vehicle's serial or production number. This is unique to each vehicle, and every manufacturer uses its own sequence.

Check-digit calculation

Check-digit validation is compulsory for all road vehicles sold in North America.

When trying to validate a VIN with a check digit, first either (a) remove the check digit for the purpose of calculation or (b) use a weight of zero (see below) to cancel it out. The original value of the check digit is then compared with the calculated value. If the calculated value is 0–9, the check digit must match the calculated value. If the calculated value is 10, the check digit must be X. If the two values do not match (and there was no error in the calculation), then there is a mistake in the VIN. However, a match does not prove the VIN is correct, because there is still a 1/11 chance that any two distinct VINs have a matching check digit: for example, the valid VINs 5GZCZ43D13S812715 (correct with leading five) and SGZCZ43D13S812715 (incorrect with leading character "S"). The VINs in the Porsche image, WP0ZZZ99ZTS392124, and the GM-T body image, KLATF08Y1VB363636, do not pass the North American check-digit verification.

Transliterating the numbers

Transliteration consists of removing all of the letters, and substituting them with their appropriate numerical counterparts. These numerical alternatives (based on IBM's EBCDIC) are in the following chart. I, O, and Q are not allowed in a valid VIN; for this chart, they have been filled in with N/A (not applicable). Numerical digits use their own values.

Transliteration key: values for VIN decoding
A: 1 B: 2 C: 3 D: 4 E: 5 F: 6 G: 7 H: 8 N/A
J: 1 K: 2 L: 3 M: 4 N: 5 N/A P: 7 N/A R: 9
S: 2 T: 3 U: 4 V: 5 W: 6 X: 7 Y: 8 Z: 9

S is 2, and not 1. There is no left-alignment linearity.

Weights used in calculation

The following is the weight factor for each position in the VIN. The 9th position is that of the check digit. It has been substituted with a 0, which will cancel it out in the multiplication step.

Weight factor table
Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Weight 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 10 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Worked example

Consider the hypothetical VIN 1M8GDM9A_KP042788, where the underscore will be the check digit.

VIN 1 M 8 G D M 9 A K P 0 4 2 7 8 8
Value 1 4 8 7 4 4 9 1 0 2 7 0 4 2 7 8 8
Weight 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 10 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Products 28 48 35 16 12 18 10 18 56 24 10 28 24 16
  1. The VIN's value is calculated from the above transliteration table. This number is used in the rest of the calculation.
  2. Copy the weights from the above weight factor table.
  3. The products row is the result of the multiplication of the vertical columns: Value and Weight.
  4. The products (8, 28, 48, 35 ... 24, 16) are all added together to yield a sum, 351.
  5. Find the remainder after dividing by 11
    351 MOD 11 = 10
    351 ÷ 11 = 31 10/11
  6. The remainder is the check digit. If the remainder is 10, the check digit is X. In this example, the remainder is 10, so the check digit is transliterated as X.

With a check digit of X, the VIN 1M8GDM9A_KP042788 is written 1M8GDM9AXKP042788.

A VIN with straight-ones (seventeen consecutive 1s) has the nice feature that its check digit 1 matches the calculated value 1. This is because a value of one multiplied by 89 (sum of weights) is 89, and 89 divided by 11 is 8 with remainder ​111; thus 1 is the check digit. This is a way to test a VIN-check algorithm.

Example code

private static int transliterate(char c) {
	return "0123456789.ABCDEFGH..JKLMN.P.R..STUVWXYZ".indexOf(c) % 10;

private static char getCheckDigit(String vin) {
	String map = "0123456789X";
	String weights = "8765432X098765432";
	int sum = 0;
	for (int i = 0; i < 17; ++i) {
		sum += transliterate(vin.charAt(i)) * map.indexOf(weights.charAt(i));
	return map.charAt(sum % 11);

private static boolean validate(String vin) {
    if(vin.length()!=17) return false;
	return getCheckDigit(vin) == vin.charAt(8);

VIN scanning

VINs may be optically read with barcode scanners or digital cameras, or digitally read via OBD-II in newer vehicles. There are smartphone applications that can pass the VIN to websites to decode the VIN.

List of common WMI

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) assigns the WMI (world manufacturer identifier) to countries and manufacturers. The following list shows a small selection of world manufacturer codes.

WMI Manufacturer
AAV (South Africa) Volkswagen
AHT (South Africa) Toyota
AFA (South Africa) Ford
CL9 (Tunisia) Wallyscar
JA (Japan) Isuzu
JC1 (Japan) Fiat Automobiles/Mazda
JF (Japan) Fuji Heavy Industries
JHL (Japan) Honda
JHM (Japan) Honda
JMB (Japan) Mitsubishi
JM6 (Japan) Mazda
JN (Japan) Nissan
JS (Japan) Suzuki
JT (Japan) Toyota
JY (Japan) Yamaha
KL (South Korea) Daewoo/GM Korea
KMH (South Korea) Hyundai
KN (South Korea) Kia
KPT (South Korea) SsangYong
L6T (China) Geely
LBE (China) Beijing Hyundai
LBV (China) BMW Brilliance
LDC (China) Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën
LE4 (China) Beijing Benz
LFM (China) FAW Toyota (Sichuan)
LFP (China) FAW Car
LFV (China) FAW-Volkswagen
LGB (China) Dongfeng Nissan
LGJ (China) Dongfeng Fengshen
LGW (China) Great Wall (Havel)
LGX (China) BYD Auto
LH1 (China) FAW Haima
LHG (China) Guangzhou Honda
LJ1 (China) JAC
LJD (China) Dongfeng Yueda Kia
LLV (China) Lifan
LMG (China) GAC Trumpchi
LPA (China) Changan PSA (DS Automobiles)
LS5 (China) Changan Suzuki
LSG (China) SAIC General Motors
LSV (China) SAIC Volkswagen
LTV (China) FAW Toyota (Tianjin)
LVG (China) GAC Toyota
LVH (China) Dongfeng Honda
LVR (China) Changan Mazda
LVS (China) Changan Ford
LVV (China) Chery
LWV (China) GAC Fiat
LZW (China) SAIC GM Wuling
MM0 (Thailand) Mazda
MS0 (Myanmar) KIA Myanmar
NMT (Turkey) Toyota
NM0 (Turkey) Ford Otosan
PL1 (Malaysia) Proton
SAJ (United Kingdom) Jaguar
SAL (United Kingdom) Land Rover
SAR (United Kingdom) Rover
SAT (United Kingdom) Triumph
SB1 (United Kingdom) Toyota
SCC (United Kingdom) Lotus Cars
SCF (United Kingdom) Aston Martin Lagonda Limited
SCE (United Kingdom) DeLorean
SFD (United Kingdom) Alexander Dennis
SHH (United Kingdom) Honda
SHS (United Kingdom) Honda
SJN (United Kingdom) Nissan
TCC (Switzerland) Micro Compact Car AG (SMART 1998-1999)
TMA (Czech Republic) Hyundai
TMB (Czech Republic) Škoda
TRU (Hungary) Audi
TSM (Hungary) Suzuki
U5Y (Slovakia) Kia
UU (Romania) Dacia
VA0 (Austria) ÖAF
VF1 (France) Renault
VF2 (France) Renault
VF3 (France) Peugeot
VF4 (France) Talbot
VF5 (France) Iveco Unic SA
VF6 (France) Renault Trucks/Volvo
VF7 (France) Citroën
VF8 (France) Matra/Talbot/Simca
VF9 (France) Bugatti
VFE (France) IvecoBus
VNK (France) Toyota
VSS (Spain) SEAT
VV9 (Spain) Tauro Sport Auto
WAG (Germany) Neoplan
WAU (Germany) Audi
WAP (Germany) Alpina
WBA (Germany) BMW
WBS (Germany) BMW M
WBX (Germany) BMW
WDB (Germany) Mercedes-Benz
WDC, WDD, WMX (Germany) DaimlerChrysler AG/Daimler AG
WEB (Germany) EvoBus
WF0 (Germany) Ford of Europe
WJM (Germany) Iveco
WJR (Germany) Irmscher
WKK (Germany) Karl Kässbohrer Fahrzeugwerke
WMA (Germany) MAN
WME (Germany) Smart
WMW (Germany) Mini
WP0 (Germany) Porsche car
WP1 (Germany) Porsche SUV
WUA (Germany) Quattro
WVG (Germany) Volkswagen
WVW (Germany) Volkswagen
WV1 (Germany) Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
WV2 (Germany) Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
W09 (Germany) Ruf Automobile
W0L (Germany) Opel/Vauxhall
W0SV (Germany) Opel Special Vehicles
XLR (Netherlands) DAF Trucks
YK1 (Finland) Saab
YS2 (Sweden) Scania, Södertälje
YS3 (Sweden) Saab
YS4 (Sweden) Scania, Katrineholm
YTN (Sweden) Saab NEVS
YV1 (Sweden) Volvo Cars
YV2 (Sweden) Volvo Trucks
YV3 (Sweden) Volvo Buses
ZA9 (Italy) Bugatti
ZAM (Italy) Maserati
ZAR (Italy) Alfa Romeo
ZCF (Italy) Iveco
ZFA (Italy) Fiat Automobiles
ZFF (Italy) Ferrari
ZGA (Italy) IvecoBus
ZHW (Italy) Lamborghini
ZLA (Italy) Lancia
1B (United States) Dodge
1C (United States) Chrysler
1F (United States) Ford
1G (United States) General Motors
1G1 (United States) Chevrolet
1G3 (United States) Oldsmobile
1G9 (United States) Google
1GC (United States) Chevrolet
1GM (United States) Pontiac
1HG (United States) Honda
1J (United States) Jeep
1L (United States) Lincoln
1M (United States) Mercury
1N (United States) Nissan
1VW (United States) Volkswagen
1YV (United States) Mazda
2DG (Canada) Ontario Drive & Gear
2F (Canada) Ford
2G (Canada) General Motors
2G1 (Canada) Chevrolet
2G2 (Canada) Pontiac
2HG (Canada) Honda
2HH (Canada) Acura
2HJ (Canada) Honda
2HK (Canada) Honda
2HM (Canada) Hyundai
2M (Canada) Mercury
2T (Canada) Toyota
3F (Mexico) Ford
3G (Mexico) General Motors
3HG (Mexico) Honda
3HM (Mexico) Honda
3KP (Mexico) Kia
3N (Mexico) Nissan
3VW (Mexico) Volkswagen
4F (United States) Mazda
4J (United States) Mercedes-Benz
4M (United States) Mercury
4S3 (United States) Subaru
4S4 (United States) Subaru
4S6 (United States) Honda
4T (United States) Toyota
4US (United States) BMW
5FN (United States) Honda
5J6 (United States) Honda
5L (United States) Lincoln
5N (United States) Hyundai
5T (United States) Toyota
5U (United States) BMW
5X (United States) Hyundai/Kia
5YJ (United States) Tesla
55 (United States) Mercedes-Benz
6F (Australia) Ford
6G (Australia) General Motors
6G1 (Australia) Chevrolet
6G2 (Australia) Pontiac
6H (Australia) Holden
6MM (Australia) Mitsubishi
6T1 (Australia) Toyota
7A3 (New Zealand) Honda
8AP (Argentina) Fiat
8AF (Argentina) Ford
8AG (Argentina) General Motors
8AW (Argentina) Volkswagen
8AJ (Argentina) Toyota
8A1 (Argentina) Renault
8AC (Argentina) Mercedes Benz
8BC (Argentina) Citroën
8AD (Argentina) Peugeot
8C3 (Argentina) Honda
8AT (Argentina) Iveco
9BD (Brazil) Fiat Automóveis
9BG (Brazil) General Motors
9BW (Brazil) Volkswagen
9BF (Brazil) Ford
93H (Brazil) Honda
9BR (Brazil) Toyota
936 (Brazil) Peugeot
935 (Brazil) Citroën
93Y (Brazil) Renault
93X (Brazil) Souza Ramos - Mitsubishi / Suzuki
9BH (Brazil) Hyundai Motor Company / Hyundai
95P (Brazil) CAOA / Hyundai
94D (Brazil) Nissan
98R (Brazil) Chery
988 (Brazil) Jeep
98M (Brazil) BMW
9BM (Brazil) Mercedes Benz
99A (Brazil) Audi
99J (Brazil) JLR Jaguar Land Rover
9C2 (Brazil) Honda Motorcycles
9C6 (Brazil) Yamaha
9CD (Brazil) Suzuki Motorcycles
93W (Brazil) Fiat Professional
93Z (Brazil) Iveco
953 (Brazil) VW Trucks / MAN
9BS (Brazil) Scania
9BV (Brazil) Volvo Trucks
9UJ (Uruguay) Chery
9UK (Uruguay) Lifan
9UW (Uruguay) Kia

See also


  1. ^ a b "Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs)". National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Retrieved 2011-07-24. 
  2. ^ "eCFR – Code of Federal Regulations – Title 49: Transportation – PART 565—VEHICLE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (VIN) REQUIREMENTS". www.ecfr.gov. Retrieved 2013-04-09. 
  3. ^ "ComLaw Legislative Instruments – Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule 61/02 – Vehicle Marking) 2005 (ADR 61/02)". Comlaw.gov.au. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  4. ^ ISO 3779:2009 Road vehicles—Vehicle identification number (VIN)—Content and structure
  5. ^ ISO 3780:2009 Road vehicles—World manufacturer identifier (WMI) code
  6. ^ "United States Federal VIN Requirements (Title 49, Chapter V, Part 565)". Access.gpo.gov. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  7. ^ a b "Directive 76/114/EEC - Automotive - Enterprise and Industry". European Commission. Archived from the original on 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  8. ^ a b "ISO 3780:2009 Road vehicles – World manufacturer identifier (WMI) code". ISO. 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 

External links