How to find out what BMW model you have

How to Find Out What BMW Model You Have

If you’ve landed here, you probably have a hard time figuring out which exact BMW model you have.

You can identify the model of your BMW by looking up its license plate using an online tool, using a VIN decoder, checking its registration documents, or contacting a BMW dealer.

Let’s dive into the details!

4 Ways to identify the model of your BMW

Can’t identify your BMW model? You may want to try out these four methods:

1. Lookup your License plate

One of the quickest and simplest methods involves using your license plate.

Simply enter your license plate on a website with a database of all registered vehicles in your country.

Here’s how:


If you live in the UK, you can use carVertical. It’s an online platform where you plug in your license plate number, and it reveals a lot about your car.

Simply enter your BMW’s license plate below, and you will find its make and model:

(If you don’t live in the UK, you can still use carVertical, but you need your VIN number instead of the license plate.)

With carVertical, you’ll get details about your BMW, including its model, history, and even any past accidents (fingers crossed there aren’t any!):

carVertical specs & equipment report example

A premium carVertical report (which, unfortunately, is paid) will include any previous damages, mileage rollbacks, recorded images, theft records, and more:

carVertical damage report example

You can check out carVertical’s website here!


If you live in the US, this tool from AutoCheck is a great one to use.

Again, it’s really simple.

Just enter your US license plate and State, and click on the green ‘Check Plate’ button:

Find your car model using AutoCheck license plate checker

AutoCheck will give you a free detailed summary of your BMW model!

2. Use a VIN decoder

Ever heard of a VIN?

No, it’s not someone’s name or a fancy term for wine.

VIN stands for “Vehicle Identification Number,” and think of it as the unique fingerprint of your BMW.

Every car has its own VIN, which means no two vehicles share the same one.

It’s a mix of 17 letters and numbers that can tell you loads about your car. Cool, right?

Each section of the VIN provides a specific piece of information about the car:

  • The first three characters identify the vehicle manufacturer, including the country and make.
  • The fourth to ninth characters can be used to identify the vehicle type, such as the model and body style.
  • The 10th to 17th characters are used to identify the vehicle in question.

Every BMW vehicle also has a unique VIN that you can use to identify it.

The VIN can be found in several different places on the car.

The most obvious location is on the dashboard, just below the windscreen on the driver’s side:

Where to find your VIN Infographic

However, the VIN can also be found on the car’s registration documents or insurance certificate.

Got the VIN? Great! Now, onto decoding it.

For BMW vehicles, we love using the BMW-specific VIN decoder called homepage

Enter your VIN, hit ‘Submit,’ and watch the details roll in.

It’ll tell you the make (but you already know it’s a BMW, of course!), model, engine type, and a lot more:

BMW VIN Decoder example

3. Check your registration documents or owner’s manual

Now, let’s talk about a method that’s as old-school as reliable.

Remember those papers and booklets you received when you first got your BMW? Those aren’t just for show! They’re packed with details about your vehicle.

The easiest is to check your registration documents, which are the official documents you get when registering your vehicle with the local transport authority.

So, grab them and look for a section labeled “Make” and “Model.” The name of your BMW model should be printed clearly.

If you’ve lost your registration documents, your next best bet is to check the owner’s manual. This is the thick booklet, usually stored in your car’s glove compartment.

Open the front cover or the introductory pages. Most of the time, the specific model and series of your BMW will be mentioned, along with other details like the manufacturing year.

Alternatively, your BMW model should be listed in the ‘Technical Data’ section near the back of the manual.

BMW X7 Owner's manual front page

4. Contact a BMW dealer

If all else fails or you’re looking for the most authentic, foolproof method to identify your BMW model, there’s no place better than heading straight to the BMW dealer!

The people who work there are trained to know every little detail about BMWs.

If they suggest you come over, make sure to bring any relevant details or documents (like the VIN or even just a photo of your car).

Sometimes, a BMW expert can identify the model with just a glance!

An overview of the various BMW models

If you’re unfamiliar with all the various BMW models out there, here is a quick overview:

  • BMW 1 Series: This is BMW’s compact series, ideal for city driving with dynamic performance.
  • BMW 2 Series: Offers a mix of coupes, convertibles, and even a multipurpose vehicle (MPV) variant.
  • BMW 3 Series: The iconic sedan, blending luxury with everyday practicality.
  • BMW 4 Series: Sporty coupes and convertibles designed for driving enthusiasts.
  • BMW 5 Series: A luxurious sedan combining comfort with cutting-edge technology.
  • BMW 6 Series: The grand tourer, offering sophistication with powerful performance.
  • BMW 7 Series: BMW’s flagship sedan that’s all about luxury and high-end features.
  • BMW X Series: A lineup of SUVs, from compact to spacious.
  • M Models: High-performance cars, tuned for the racetrack but suited for everyday roads.
  • i Series: BMW’s electric and hybrid models.

FAQs about identifying your BMW model

If you haven’t been able to identify your BMW model yet, this FAQ section will hopefully help you!

Where is the BMW vehicle identification number (VIN)?

You can find the VIN of your BMW by walking up to the windshield on the driver’s side of the car and locating a metal plate on the dashboard containing a 17-character code.

How do I read my BMW VIN?

The first character of your BMW VIN stands for the country where it’s manufactured, the second character for the vehicle manufacturer, the third for the vehicle type, and the others for your vehicle’s model, serial number, and more!

What year is my BMW by VIN?

You can find the year of a BMW by looking at the 10th character of its VIN, which stands for its model year. You can find a table containing VIN model year codes here.


To quickly recap:

There are several accessible ways to identify your BMW model, from license plate lookups and VIN decoders to the traditional methods involving your car’s documentation.

Over the years, BMW released a lot of different models, so we understand if it’s confusing, especially if you know very little about cars.

But we hope today’s article helped you find the information you’re looking for.

Otherwise, don’t hesitate to contact us or place a comment below!

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