Vehicle Identification Number
A VIN consists of 17 characters which uniquely identifies a vehicle or trailer. The VIN shall be permanently marked on right side of the vehicle and also appears on the manufacturer’s plate affixed to the vehicle. The characters “I, O and Q” shall not be used anywhere in the VIN as these can be confused with numerical characters.
The 17 characters of the VIN can be divided into 3 sections:
Section 1: World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI)
A WMI is the first 3 characters of a vehicle Identification Number (VIN) which uniquely identifies the manufacturer of a motor vehicle or trailer. The code is assigned to a vehicle manufacturer in order to allow identification of the said manufacturer and when used in conjunction with the remaining section of the VIN, ensures uniqueness of the VIN for all vehicles manufactured for a period of 30 years.
NSAI is the Irish national organisation responsible for issuing manufacturers with a WMI in accordance with International standard ISO 3780. If the manufacturer produces fewer than 500 vehicles in the year the 3rd character of the WMI will be denoted with the number “9” and the 12th, 13th and 14th characters of the VIN will also be assigned by NSAI.
Section 2: Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS)
It provides information describing the general attributes of the vehicle. This shall consist of 6 characters. If the manufacturer does not use one or more of these character spaces the spaces not used shall be filled by alphabetical or numeric characters of the manufacturer’s choice. The coding and sequence of this section are determined by the manufacturer.
Section 3: Vehicle indicator section (VIS)
This shall be the last section of the VIN and shall consist of 8 characters; the last four shall be numeric. If the manufacturer chooses to designate year and/or plant in this section; it is recommended that the year be indicated by the first character of the VIS and the plant of manufacture by the second character. Below is the recommended table from which ISO 3779 (1) could be used for assigning the year code for the VIN.
(1) International Standard ISO 3779 "Road Vehicles - Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), Content and Structure.
The VIN should be assigned and marked in accordance with International standard ISO-3779 “Road vehicles – Vehicle Identification number (VIN) content and structure” and also EC directive 76/114/EEC “on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to statutory plates and inscriptions for motor vehicles and their trailers, and their location and method of attachment”
Once the WMI has being assigned, NSAI shall notify SAE (the world co-ordinator for WMI codes) who will log it on their database.
The fee for assigning a WMI to a manufacturer is 253 euro (plus VAT).
Who needs to be assigned a WMI?
If you are the manufacturer of a vehicle or trailer based in Ireland and are required to get National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA) or European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (EWVTA) than you may need to apply for a WMI in order to complete the VIN
How to apply for a WMI?
NSAI would require the following in order to assign a WMI to a manufacturer:
- A letter on headed paper from the company applying for a WMI number. The letter should state if the manufacturer produces more than 500 units per type per year. This letter should include name ,address and contact details of the company and also the company's registration number (as per the CRO website, Companies Registration Office) and the company's VAT number.
- Submit a technical specification of the vehicle or trailer, giving a technical description including drawings, size, lengths, widths and weights.
- A copy of the procedure for the control, issuing and recording of VIN's e.g.
- so that the year code is changed for each production year,
- to record serial numbers and ensure that no two vehicles are assigned the same VIN,
- what process is in place to deal with the same VIN allocated to two vehicles,
- who issues and assigns the VIN.
- Along with the above NSAI would require a detailed description from the manufacturer on how they intend to assign characters for their VIN.