When it comes to buying a used car, there are a few things you need to be sure of. Sure, you need to check the car over. You also need to make sure all the paperwork is in order. Not least of all the car ownership and tax documents. Car ownership is different from the car’s registered keeper and to make things even more confusing, the tax and insurance may be in someone else’s name too! Knowing what the different documents are will ensure the whole process for buying a used car is smoother.

What is a V5C?

The VV5C is the four-page logbook that is issued by the DVLA.  It’s less like a book and more like a large piece of folded paper. This is the document that proves a car is registered to you. It has all the car’s information like the registration, engine size, the VIN (vehicle identification number), fuel type and emissions.

When buying a second hand car privately, the seller needs to transfer ownership of the vehicle online with the DVLA or by sending the V5C form back in the post.  As the new keeper, the seller should give you the green slip from the V5C when you hand over their payment. It will be your responsibility to tax and insure the car and you’ll need the green slip to do that. 

Since 2014, road tax hasn’t been transferable so you’ll need to re-tax the car before you drive it away.  You’ll need the 12 digit reference number on the new keeper slip in order to pay for road tax, as the car will not be registered to you yet. 

If you are buying from a dealer it’s a bit easier – they will usually arrange the road tax for you.

Different styles of V5C documents

The old V5C form from 2004 is blue and green but changed in 2012 to have a red front page with blue, green, yellow and red sections for various changes of the vehicle’s status.  Both types of V5C are valid, but drivers are encouraged to apply for the new version if they still have the old one.

With the old-style logbook, the new keeper section is part 6 and the green slip you give to the new keeper is in part 10 labelled ‘the new keeper supplement’ or V5C2.

New style logbooks are slightly different and the new keeper section is in part 2 of the form labelled ‘selling or transferring my vehicle to a new keeper’.  The green slip to give to the new buyer is in section 6. 

If you have lost your V5C you should apply for a new one from the DVLA asap.  It is possible to sell a car without one, but it’s not recommended.  Buyers would be wary of any seller without a V5C. Those who did go ahead to buy a car without a V5C would need the seller’s original bill of sale to apply for a new one and complete the V62 form with DVLA.

Although you can sell a car without a logbook, you can’t tax it without one. There is an 11 digit reference number on the V5C form that you need to get vehicle tax.  

Car ownership vs Registered Keeper

A car can be owned by one individual and registered to someone else, or they can be the same person for both. 

The registered keeper is named on the V5C and responsible for taxing the vehicle and ensuring the yearly MOT.  Any fines will be sent to the registered keeper and penalty points endorsed from them too, so bear this in mind if you let anyone drive your car.  If you do receive a fine for a time that you weren’t behind the wheel, you’ll have the opportunity to nominate the actual driver of your car and pass the penalty onto them.

The car owner is the person who bought the car and would be on the original bill of sale receipt.  When buying a second-hand car, it is imperative that you ask to see both the V5C and the bill of sale to make sure the person selling you the car is legally allowed to sell it.  Their details on the logbook are not proof of the car ownership. 

Change of Details

Once you own a car and have it registered in your name it is compulsory to advise the DVLA of any changes such as address or a new registration plate.  There is a section on the V5C form to do this.  If you don’t you can be liable for a fine of up to £1000.

For all V5C document changes, you’ll need to complete a specific section, post it to Swansea and wait for them to send a replacement V5C back to you. This can take up to 4 weeks. You sometimes need to send additional evidence with the standard form if you’ve made changes to the engine, fuel or weight of the vehicle.

Download our FREE Used Car Checklist.

Join our community to download our Used Car Checklist with everything there is to know about buying a used car.