manufacturers use the last three digits to number vehicles. Large annual volume manufacturers
use the last six digits.
The VIN has four sections. The first consists of the first three VIN characters. For large
manufacturers, these three positions represent a manufacturer identifier, which meets both the
requirements of Part 565 and International Standard 3780: Road vehicles – World manufacturer
identifier (WMI) code (Small manufacturers must use a six character manufacturer identifier
consisting of the first three VIN positions and positions 12 – 14). In International Standard 3780,
adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1980, the first three digits
of the VIN are referred to as the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). Although it is common
to refer to the first three digits of the VIN as the WMI, the first three digits will be referred to
here as the “manufacturer identifier” because Part 565 does not use the term “WMI.” Also, Part
565’s requirements for the first three digits of the VIN differ somewhat from those of
International Standard 3780 and it is Part 565’s requirements that are affected by the final rule.
NHTSA currently contracts with the SAE International (SAE) to coordinate and issue
manufacturer identifiers that comply with Part 565 to U.S. manufacturers. In issuing these
identifiers, SAE also ensures that the identifiers comply with the requirements of International
Standard 3780 for WMIs.
Part 565 currently requires that manufacturers identify manufacturer, make and type of
motor vehicle in the first three digits of a VIN. To comply with International Standard 3780, this
section of the VIN must also indicate the country in which the vehicle was manufactured.
The proliferation of vehicle makes for passenger vehicles has resulted in large
manufacturers with multiple makes of vehicles having to obtain multiple manufacturer
identifiers. This, in combination with large manufacturer identifiers issued to large