How to Check and Decode a Volkswagen VIN

You can find your Volkswagen’s VIN on the dashboard or door jamb on the driver’s side. Here’s what you need to know about this 17-digit code.
Written by Sarah Williams
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Decode your Volkswagen VIN by breaking down its 17-digit code to learn about your car’s country of origin, manufacturer, vehicle information, and more. You can find the vehicle identification number (VIN) on your driver’s side dashboard or door jamb.  
Before renewing your driver’s license, updating your vehicle’s registration, or selling your car, you’ll need to know your VIN. But what do those 17 digits really tell you about your Volkswagen? 
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How to check your Volkswagen’s VIN

VIN stands for
vehicle identification number
. This number is a unique string of 17 digits that identifies your specific Volkswagen.  
There are several places you can find the VIN on your Volkswagen. They include: 
  • Your insurance card
  • Your vehicle title and registration
  • On the corner of your dashboard, visible through the windshield
  • On the driver’s side door jamb
  • On or in front of the engine block
  • Under your spare tire
Additionally, many expensive auto parts will display the VIN to prevent the theft and resale of stolen parts. 
MORE: How can I protect my car stereo from theft?

How to decode a Volkswagen VIN

VINs have been used in the United States since the 1950s but weren’t standardized until 1981. Since then, it’s recognized worldwide what each of the 17 digits is to represent. 
These standard meanings are expressed through the 10 numerical digits (0-9) and the letters of the alphabet, excluding I, O, and Q, as these letters can be easily confused with numbers. 
Here’s what each digit means. 

First position: country of origin

The first three digits of your VIN are the world manufacturer identifier (WMI) code. The first digit refers to the country where the car was manufactured. For example, the numbers 1 or 4 represent the U.S. The letter W represents Germany.  

Positions 2-3: manufacturer information

The next two digits tell you information about the company that manufactured your vehicle. The second digit refers to the brand—V for Volkswagen, in your case. The third character represents the type of Volkswagen you are driving—for example, a pickup truck or passenger car. 

Positions 4-8: vehicle-specific information

The next five digits of your VIN contain vehicle-specific information. Because Volkswagens have a variety of styles and trim levels available, these characters further narrow down the details of your car.  
The fourth digit tells us the body style and trim level; the fifth the engine type; the sixth the restraint system; and the seventh and eighth represent the model

Position 9: the VIN check digit

Unlike the previous digits, this character isn’t specific to your car. Rather, it is in place as a “check digit” for security reasons. Because most of the characters are standardized, it could be easy for someone to generate a fake VIN. The ninth digit is based on the other numbers in your VIN and is used to prevent fake VINs. 

Position 10: model year

With limited characters to draw from, the system for referencing model years has gotten more complicated over time. More VINs are re-using characters from earlier model years.
Here are the VIN model year codes from the last 20 years:
1981 OR 2011
1982 OR 2012
1983 OR 2013
1984 OR 2014
1985 OR 2015
1986 OR 2016
1987 OR 2017
1988 OR 2018
1989 OR 2019
1990 OR 2020
1991 OR 2021
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Position 11: assembly plant

The eleventh character references the assembly location of your Volkswagen—for example,
, Brazil, or Brussels. 

Positions 12-17: vehicle serial number

The final six digits of a VIN are your Volkswagen's unique serial number. These six numbers are entirely unique to your vehicle. Your serial number is generally assigned while your car is in assembly. 

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